Margaret Cho stages stand-up with songs that aren't a joke 

onicling the life of a model reincarnated in the body of an overweight woman "? a seemingly peculiar choice, considering her previous series experience.

"I fell in love with the show's creator," Cho said. "I loved the script and felt so moved by the story, I had to be involved in it. Given my history, I am very careful about what I accept in terms of television, but I love this show."

For the moment, her focus is shifting to music, with an album slated for release in the near future. It's easy to be skeptical, but Cho's comedy record is no joke. Tentatively titled "Guitarded," the disc includes collaborations with such artists as Andrew Bird, Jon Brion and singer/songwriter Patty Griffin.

"My project was comedy plus serious music, so I put together the most serious musicians I know," Cho said. "It's going to be an amazing record. I am such a fan of all of these people, and they did such a beautiful job with the music. The lyrics are funny, too. I've spent the last year learning guitar and banjo, and am now able to play decently. I'm still a comic. I'm just trying something different."

Before embarking on her current nationwide tour, which brings her to Midwest City for an 8 p.m. Thursday show at Rose State College, the unthinkable happened: Cho's voice was silenced, literally, when nodes on her vocal chords resulted in doctor's orders not to speak or sing. At all.

"I lost my voice and had to do the first part of the tour with no voice at all," she said. "Some of the things I had to do were so surprisingly good that I'm keeping them. It's a work in progress depending on the status of my voice, but it's great that I can do a great show without opening my mouth at all. I think that's very impressive."

Cho has been recruiting the text-to-voice function on her computer, as well as bringing along friends and celebrity guests to be her voice for each performance. Her voice is currently on the mend, although she insists there's little missing from the performance.

"My voice is doing better, but I'm still doing the shows silently," she said. "My initial reaction to the diagnosis was, 'Um, no, this is not happening.' It was a Monday, and I had to do a show in Los Angeles that Thursday. Jon Brion suggested I still do the show and said he'd sing my songs and read my material. We went ahead and did the show, and it was tremendous. I found I could work around being silent, and it's helped me be even more creative in the development of the show."

A good lesson in overcoming not just adversity, but continually thwarting those who try to keep her down, Cho is living her lifelong dream and plans to continue doing just that, regardless of what life or politics throws her way.

"I just wanted to do comedy, and I didn't care where it would lead, because it was exactly what I wanted to do," she said. "I knew I was a comic inside, and that I would do this my entire life. I didn't have goals other than to do comedy every night. That's what I did, and it all turned out OK."

Margaret Cho performs at 8 p.m. Thursday at Rose State College's Performing Arts Center, 6420 S.E. 15th in Midwest City.

"?Becky Carman

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