The latest set from the comedienne/revolutionary
The new Margaret Cho doesn't get many laughs. This show, filmed in Washington, D.C., is packed with her fanbase, but there's not a single burst of spontaneous laughter to be heard. Dressed in her hippie finest, she goes hard on punchline after punchline, only to hit near silence, punctuated by polite applause that's more damning than the quiet. Even her most effective joke, a sudden, dirty jab about Laura Bush's flavor, is met with more shock than laughter.
Part of the problem is the subject matter. Like so many thinking people, Cho is disgusted by the state of America, and has no problem telling everyone who will listen. But people come to listen to her expecting to laugh. So watching her stand-up is like 80-minutes of listening to your extremely liberal friend, who's kind of funny, but a bit too serious to really make you laugh. That her jokes have aged quickly doesn't help matters. The truly topical comics have a short shelf life, and bits about Terry Schiavo, the Runaway Bride and Jeff Gannon are well past their expiration date.
So much of Cho's act is built around gay culture now that it dominates the non-political portions. It also raises some questions. As someone who also knows many gay people, I would like to know why, when Cho imitates gay people, she slips into a stereotypical black street accent. Watching this Korean woman imitate gay men and sound like a black woman is rather distracting and, truthfully, annoying. It's also not very funny.
On the other hand, her imitation of her mother remains firmly in place and funny to boot. It's not played up as much as it once was (possibly due to her illness), but it's still a treat. She busts out another enjoyable imitation when talking about Bjork, and follows it up with her classic valley girl sound. It's jokes like these that make it hard to forget about what Cho used to be. Now, when she's talking in great depth about sex, it's just filthy, not filthy and funny.
It was a surprise to see a Dolby Digital 5.1 track on this DVD, and I don't quite understand why it was included. The track keeps Cho front and center, with nice, clear voice, while the surrounds get a bit of crowd reaction in them. It's not very dynamic, and not all that powerful a track, but it does what it is supposed to.
"Margaret Cho's Belly Dancing Segment," which shows the comic working on her belly dancing hobby, is another piece in which the comic forgets why she is popular. Espousing feminist beliefs, she shows a bit of the dance technique and talks about its history.
Two short films included are an interesting part of the disc, as they don't include Cho. "Ode to Margaret Cho" is a nonsensical short about a family that only says certain phrases and doesn't get along well, while "Invisible Son" is about the youngest child in a traditional Korean family, a son with a secret. They are a quick view and aren't half bad.
Cho's friend and opening act, Bruce Daniels, gets some spotlight in the extras. His 13-minute stand-up act, which lead into Cho's show, got a much better reaction. Though still loaded wih the gay factor, his act is just sillier and more entertaining. The bonuses wrap up with an awful animated rap video that needs to be seen to be believed, and a user-controlled photo gallery.
The Bottom Line