The Cho Show
Airdate: 11-11:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21 (VH1)
It's entirely possible that it didn't happen this way but you get the sneaky suspicion that "The Cho Show" began when Margaret Cho saw Kathy Griffin's "My Life on the D-List" and thought to herself, "You know what? I could do this, too."
Cho and Griffin have more in common than just being women comedians. Both achieved a level of celebrity that makes them familiar to most viewers and both know what it's like to be snubbed. In Cho's case, that's served her well. A lot of her material and even concert films are about her frustrations with industry suits.
Cho burst on the national scene in 1994 as the star of ABC's "All-American Girl," TV's first all-Asian comedy, but the show lasted just one season. She introduces "The Cho Show" with a reference to past struggles and compromises, and then promises, "I'm going to do it my way."
Her way lets viewers glimpse at parts of her personal life (her house, her parents) but carefully withholds other details. For example, the most poignant part of the premiere is when her traditional parents return home after buying a stunning outfit for a baby boy Cho does not have. They bought it, they say, "just in case."
Cho reveals some ambivalence about the subject before sweeping it away with a joke about adopting a Chinese baby. There is no mention that, since 2003 she has been, at least officially, married to Al Ridenour. Cho has said their situation was not traditional and that "it's not a committed marriage. We're just friends. We share space." Maybe so, but not in the opening episode. Ridenour is neither seen nor spoken of.
The baby part is a slight diversion. The main theme is Cho's being named "Korean of the Year." First, she anguishes over whether she should accept. Then it's about what to wear and, finally, what to say. There's a lot more anxiety than you would expect from such a veteran stand-up.
A lot of the show is about Cho's entourage: hair stylist John Blaine, makeup artist John Stapleton, wardrobe stylist Charlie Altuna and assistant Selene Luna. The men are her gay glam squad, Cho says. More than that, they serve as supporting cast, kitchen cabinet and Greek chorus.
VH1 supplied only the premiere for review. Assuming other episodes follow suit, "The Cho Show" could give Cho the kind of boost Griffin got from "D-List."
Crossroads Television. Executive producers: Margaret Cho, Rico Martinez, Dan Lindau, Katherine Dore, Alex Demyanenko, Jeff Olde, Jill Holmes, Noah Pollack, Jennifer Levy; Co-executive producer: Christy Spitzer; Line producers: Casey Spira, Rodney Frazier; Supervising story producer: Alicia Bean; Producer: Justin Silva; Production managers: Michael Simmons, Jason Watters; Director of photography: Jacob Pinger; Supervising editor: Patrick Reardon; Cast: Margaret Cho, John Blaine, John Stapleton, Charlie Altuna, Selene Luna.