Margaret Cho is best known for her bawdy stand up act. She has been perfecting her on stage shtick since she was 16 years old. Twenty five years later she is one of the best in the biz at what she does. She is now touring North America with her latest national tour of a show called "Cho Dependent".
The show was very much what we've come to expect from Cho as it was filled with funny bits about her parents, her time on Dancing With the Stars, gay rights, and how it is harder to find people to sleep with at her age (41). But this show is a little different in that it features Margaret singing a few songs. Funny ones, of course.
Cho Dependent is the title of her recently released CD. It features humorous songs about things like various body parts – male and female – and about a guy she was in love with about 17 years ago who ended up bludgeoning his wife to death then hiding her body in the attic for one month leading to her being found partially mummified and him going to prison. The recording had Cho working with artists like Ani DiFranco, Tegan and Sara, Andrew Bird, and Fiona Apple. As a result on this tour she has taken her usual on stage act and rounded it out with four songs that she performs alone or with her opening act John Roberts. Her belief in and love of diversity has made its way into her live act.
The comedian has gained a large following for her outspoken nature on stage. What would surprise many is that off the stage she is soft spoken and rather shy. On stage she makes clear her views on gay marriage, politics, bisexuality, and being Asian. She has the talent for making you understand how she feels about any number of subjects without making you feel like she is beating you over the head with them. Cho is very generous of spirit and that theme runs throughout her latest show.
Opening the show was John Roberts. A gay native New Yorker comedian who used different wigs throughout his 20 minute act. While most of his stuff didn't hit the mark for me I still got some laughs out of him.
I was worried when Margaret Cho first took the stage at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier because she looked rather tired. Don't get me wrong she looked great having lost some weight (due, no doubt, to her stint on Dancing With the Stars) and wearing some fantastic purple suede boots, but still her face looked tired. And who could blame her as her schedule has been crazy lately what with her touring at the same time she was participating in the reality show? But that tired look did not translate into her show. There was plenty of energy and laughs over the course of her 75 minutes on stage.
The bulk of her act dealt with sex and politics. And most of which is so adult in content that I can't share it here with you. She talked about Proposition 8 (the law banning gay marriage in the state of California), spit roasting (a sexual act involving three people), a particular part of her body being enough of a crevice that she's expecting Oprah to open her next school there, accidentally 'sexting' her mother, and many of her different relationships.
Hooting and hollering from her opening section about being on Dancing With the Stars and being told by a vocal coach to drink olive oil to help her voice then having it come out of her bum in mists the audience, filled with her usual 50% gay and 50% straight demographic, loved them some Margaret Cho. Not hard to understand as this lady has quite a stage presence to go along with that sharp little tongue of hers.
One of the funnier…well, one of the many funny moments was her musings on why there was no Asian Girls Gone Wild videos. She joked that they could be filled with things like "Oh my God, she's not studying" or "She's in the house wearing her shoes". Of course she did several impersonations of her mother. Which I adore and believe that she does not to make fun of her mom, but rather out of love and respect.
Poop jokes have been done by many a stand up comedian, but there are very few who can do them and make them seem as fresh as Cho. And Cho fans are not too stodgy. They will laugh at bathroom humour as well as sex jokes about blow jobs or bad sex.
While you might find yourself wiping tears from your eyes due to laughing so much, you also find yourself being touched by the poignancy she is capable of. One such moment came in the part of her show where she shared stories about her maternal grandfather, who was her biggest fan and is now deceased. While still in Korea after the war he went around and adopted 19 parentless kids. When the house they lived in caught fire he went back in 19 times to save every one of those kids. While they and he all survived her grandfather was horribly disfigured due to the fire. Then the family moved to the United States and Margaret was born. As a young girl Margaret was constantly told by members of her family that she was ugly with one even telling her that her "face was bloated beyond recognition". Well, she bonded with her grandfather over the fact that they were both considered ugly. Poignant! Then, in pure Margaret style when she's got a little lump in your throat, she turns around on a dime and tells some disgusting story right after. Brilliant!
Not all her jokes work equally well, but rarely do any of them fall flat. She is one of the more consistently funny comedians working today. Cho is fearless onstage and stands before you proudly, lets you see who she is and what she thinks. You may find yourself wincing at some of the crasser jokes she tells (and there are usually plenty), but you go in knowing that is what she does and you love her for it.