Eye Weekly
Margaret Cho at Massey Hall

By Sean Davidson

“…her latest tour, Beautiful, which on April 4 saw Cho return to the more honest and personal material that marked her earlier years….Cho seems to have re-embraced the best of what made her big in the first place.”

The last time Margaret Cho made the rounds her act didn’t look so good and seemed to be trending downward. The howlingly raw material of her debut I’m The One That I Want and follow-up Notorious C.H.O. had — by the time of Revolution and in particular 2005’s Assassin — given way to a good deal of pandering non-comedy and speechifying that didn’t so much tell jokes as it told her adoring fans what they wanted to hear.

If that sounds like a belated swipe, well, let’s blame it on the lingering awfulness of Assassin and move on to the notable improvements of her latest tour, Beautiful, which on April 4 saw Cho return to the more honest and personal material that marked her earlier years.

That is, there were actual jokes, with actual set-ups, hung on her favorite topics of fag haggery, being Korean and all combination of things genital/oral/anal. (The “group sex is like a hot dog eating contest” bit was a treat.)

Which is not to say she didn’t cater now and then to the near–full house of fans. Cho got some very easy applause breaks with smack-downs of George W. and Ann Coulter and just as many with shout-outs aimed at the GLBTs in the crowd…

“Let’s hear it for the penises of gay men! Whoo!”
“Let’s hear it for Hitachi Magic Wand vibrators! Am I right, ladies? Am I right?”

… and so forth. But Cho seems to have re-embraced the best of what made her big in the first place, and for 90 minutes dished matter-of-factly about her life as a semi-famous and ambisexual member of multiple minorities, a position that gives her a sort of all-access pass as a comic. (To borrow a line from Jerry Seinfeld, all she needs is Polish citizenship and she’ll be unstoppable.)

That she did a bit about the Korean couple on Lost or another impression of her fan-favorite mother was inevitable. But more daring and poignant was her take on the Virginia Tech shooter, with whom she shares a name and heritage. Cho — never shy about uncomfortable topics — described the gradual dread of learning that the killer was, at first, Asian and then, worse yet for her, Korean.

“If you’re an immigrant in America and someone fucks up, you and everyone who looks like you is suddenly Canadian,” she remarked, again to big applause.

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