Margaret Cho - Revolution
Wellspring // Unrated // $19.98 // August 17, 2004
Review by Daniel W. Kelly | posted October 1, 2004
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The Movie:
Cho Revolution is an apt title for this live concert, from comedian/activist Margaret Cho, whose comedy is becoming more and more socially conscious with each new performance, particularly the one presented on this DVD.

The Story:
If you're not familiar with Margaret Cho, very quickly, she's an Asian comedian who struggled to become a sitcom star with her own show, who struggled with her weight, and who struggles with the weight of the world and all the bigotry. Oh, and she's also a sexually ambiguous fag hag—and she loves to take political correctness so far to the right that she manages to offend while making loads of damn good points.

And these are pretty much all the topics she covers in her standup routines, which, in all honesty, are moving more and more towards being performance artist pieces. You will laugh at many parts, but you will also probably be really disgusted by her brazen raunch. She's loud and harsh at times. She's angry. She's sarcastic. And that's why her adoring fans love her. She not only says what's on her mind—she says what is on theirs. She vents for them.

Now, here's what I find different about this particular concert. I think Margaret is calming down somewhat, despite her messages being stronger than ever before. Sure, she has her outbursts, but overall, she speaks with more maturity, almost as if she is more willing to rationally discuss her strong opinions. And that's what I feel is different here. This concert seems more like an opportunity to spread her word than to make us laugh. She's definitely still funny for those of us who like her humor. But there are also very different moments. Her personal stories are actually quite sad, and it's almost jarring when she tops them off with a wisecrack. She puts a large emphasis on visual jokes in which she's silently acting something out, and the silence becomes uncomfortable because it's just not funny, and the pay off doesn't pack enough punch very often. And she does some incredible morphing with her face that is actually creepy…the kinds of faces your mommy used to tell you would stay that way if you held them too long.

Her topics of choice of course begin with politics. She dabbles in her usual rants at Hollywood for its limits on Asian roles (funny stuff), she touches upon reality shows, and covers diet, exercise, and body image, which is ironic, considering she looks fabulous and has clearly done something to take off a lot of the weight that cost her a good part of her career. And finally, she does tap into the gay activism, but saves it for the end, whereas it sort of became a running focal point of her Notorious Cho concert. But, despite being a rather longwinded, not as funny as usual appearance, Margaret manages to leave us with an incredibly powerful message in her very last words in this concert.

The DVD

Video:
The movie appears to be presented in anamorphic 1:85:1 widescreen, enhanced for 16x9 televisions. It says nothing about it on the box, and most of the action took place on the stage without much movement, but proportions seemed consistent on my widescreen TV, and there was no apparent stretching on the edges of the screen to fill the space. The picture quality itself was bright, vivid, and sharply detailed.

Sound:
Well, the setup menu lists only "5.1 stereo," but the audio channel was actually just 2.0 stereo. Even so, the sound was loud and clear…and the audience was in stereo. Point being, do you really need surround for a standup comedy routine?

Extras:
Bunch of stuff here, but none of it really excited me all that much:

Behind the Scenes—you meet the crew, Margaret & her opening act Bruce Daniels hang out together and chat, a bunch of audience members get their 15 seconds of fame on camera saying something about how awesome Margaret is. This segments runs about 10 minutes.

Behind the Revolution—a 1 minute clip of Margaret and opening act Bruce Daniels running to their car after the show. Seems staged.

Cho Daniels Report—two parts. 15 minutes is "Jacked Up," in which the two sit and talk about headline making scandal celebrities of the year—this is more serious than funny. Another 7 minutes is devoted to "Sacramento Rally," which is actual footage from a gay and lesbian rally for marriage at which Margaret spoke.

Opening Act—gay, African-American comedian Bruce Daniels gives a 15 minute warm up routine for Margaret's show. He's got some funny material, but he was very dry and monotone (I think that's his shtick?) and seemed a little stiff. His funniest moment I would say was his impression of an American Idol audition.

Trailers—of Margaret's concert DVDs Notorious Cho and I'm the One That I Want.

DVD offer—basically a coupon, this is a DVD-Rom weblink for a discount on online purchases.

Final Thoughts:
Cho Revolution sees comedian Margaret Cho making her biggest detour from her usual comedy/activism routine and leaning way closer to the activism aspect, while simultaneously doing it with a bit more poise and grace than usual. I would say if you're a huge fan, you're going to buy it and consider it your least favorite of her concerts. If you're not a fan but want to see what all the fuss is about, I'd suggest you ease into Margaret Cho with her concert I'm the One That I Want.



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