Margaret Cho: A Silent Comedian?

Comedian Margaret Cho, best known for her loud, raunchy stand-up routines, including her 2000 special “I’m the One that I Want,” was just about to start a nationwide tour, when she lost her voice. Doctors diagnosed her with vocal cord nodules and she was ordered not to speak – at all! But Cho took the news in stride, modifying her performance to accommodate the doctor’s orders. She performed the first half of her tour without speaking 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.”

She also using the text to voice function of her computer, as well as having friends and celebrity guests deliver some of her lines.

The vocal cords are two folds of smooth muscle within the voice box (larynx).  The larynx lies at the top of the windpipe (trachea), just below the back of the tongue. Air passing through the vocal cords causes them to vibrate, and produce the sound of your voice. Vocal abuse or misuse,such as excessive use of the voice when singing, talking, smoking,coughing, yelling, or inhaling irritants can cause abnormalities of the vocal cords, such as nodules, polyps, or cysts. The difference between these abnormalities is mostly a function of what kind of tissue is involved. Vocal cord nodules are also known as “calluses of the vocal fold.” They appear on both sides of the vocal cords, typically at the midpoint, and directly face each other. Like other calluses, these lesions often diminish or disappear when overuse of the area is stopped.

For more information:

Vocal Cord Cysts, Nodules, Polyps
Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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