by Mandi Bierly
On Aug. 24, Margaret Cho will release a comedy music album, Cho Dependent, featuring collaborations with the likes of Fiona Apple, Ani DiFranco, Patti Griffin, and Ben Lee. â€œItâ€™s funny songwriting, but itâ€™s not song parody,â€ Cho told us recently while sitting down with EW and her Drop Dead Diva costar Brooke Elliott. Then, she launched into the story behind her favorite track on the album, â€œIâ€™m Sorry,â€ co-written by Andrew Bird.
MARGARET CHO: I fell in love with a guy who worked on All-American Girl, which was my first TV show, and he didnâ€™t like me back at all. He didnâ€™t like me back. And it broke my heart. I was early 20s, really in love with him. I was in love with him for 17 years, and I never Googled him, because I didnâ€™t want to know what had happened. In my mind, I thought Iâ€™m sure heâ€™s married and livinâ€™ in a white house with a wife and kid, this fantastic life that I had imagined for him. So I never Googled him, and then finally, 17 years later, I turned 40, and I thought I should Google him and just see. [Laughs] â€˜Cause he might get divorced or something. You never know, in their 40s, people switch partners. So I Googled him, and this thing came up on Wikipedia, and it said his name, and it said American screenwriter, producer, worked on All-American Girl with Margaret Cho, and in 2007, was arrested for murdering his wife. He bludgeoned her to death and stuffed her body in the attic for a month until it had partially mummified.
[Silence, as Elliott and Entertainment Weekly look at each other, jaws dropped.]
MC: So, itâ€™s really good that we didnâ€™t hook up. He told her family that she was in rehab, and she was an alcoholic, so they didnâ€™t come lookinâ€™ for her. They had a baby. The baby he left crying in a crib. So he had just killed the mother of his child, and then was trying to take care of the baby while his wife was decomposing.
BROOKE ELLIOTT: In the attic.
MC: So Iâ€™m, like, shaking in front of my computer thinking, Well, I guess thatâ€™s not gonna work out. But I loved this man for 17 years, and always held in my mind the possibility. I mean, I loved him.
BE: Did you feel free after that?
MC: I felt free, and then when I saw his picture, he didnâ€™t look good in orange. He lost his looks, and you know, he looked all murderous.
BE: Sure. And mean.
MC: It was horrible. I was so destroyed that all I could do was write a song. I had to talk about it because it was just so profound to me, that I couldâ€™ve loved somebody like that. [He ultimately pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 26 years in prison.] A person that was a perfect match for me was Andrew Bird. We went and wrote a fantastic murder ballad about that. Itâ€™s from the murdererâ€™s perspective. Itâ€™s sort of a country murder ballad. Itâ€™s actually a very classic kind of song for an American country music story, so it makes sense to me. So the songs are humorous, but theyâ€™re stories from my life, which has a lot of gravity. They also help me unearth stuff that is almost impossible to talk about in stand-up comedy. Things, like, that are so terribleâ€¦. Heâ€™s not allowed to profit from the murder in any way. Heâ€™s a writer, so he canâ€™t write about it. But the song gives me a lot of comfort because how do you love someone who was capable of that? He did push me one time, and we werenâ€™t even goinâ€™ out. He had a violence in him. I donâ€™t know if that drew me to him or what it was. Maybe it was a fatalistic urge in myself or something. But those are the kinds of things that I write songs about.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Youâ€™ll play some of the album in your act though?
MC: A couple of the songs. Iâ€™m also dying to do stand-up comedy again. Iâ€™ve been working on my act in clubs around Atlanta [where Drop Dead Diva films], so Iâ€™m very like rarinâ€™ to go. Tickets for my tour go on-sale June 11.
BE: Sheâ€™s done some of her songs in her show. Theyâ€™re really good.
MC: Itâ€™s about finding that good balance. My favorite is Bette Midler, because she balances comedy and music and finds a balance that is interesting.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Like a country murder ballad.
MC: Partially mummified. In the attic. I mean I loved him. I still have presents that I got him that I havenâ€™t given to him, that I had meant to give to him, that Iâ€™ve held onto for 17 years. Iâ€™m like, Should I bake it in a cake? I donâ€™t know. I donâ€™t know how to deal with that.