Kathy Nichols

Margaret Cho gets real at the Pabst Theatre

The Asian and bisexual comedian mined her close ties to both communities to phenomenal effect last Sunday, never crossing a line she didn't mean to.

By - Oct 29th, 2013 11:59 am
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MargaretChoTell-it-like-it-is comedienne Margaret Cho trusted the Pabst Theatre’s audience with her clever wit in her Milwaukee stop of the “Mother” stand-up tour along with opener Aussie Jim Short last Sunday night, Oct. 20.

Cho has built her career on her self-identity as an Asian and bisexual woman, and her ties to those communities were in full display during her Pabst set. After sharing her opinion that there’s no greater friendship than the one between an old gay man and a little girl – “because he’ll watch ‘Twilight’ with her as many times as she wants” – she went on to talk about her Korean parents’ purchase of a gay bookstore in 1970’s San Francisco. It was here that she first broke out her presumably perfect impression of her mother, complete with caricatured accent and facial expressions, explaining a gay man to her with the argument, “He love his friend so much that he treat his friend like a laaadyyyy.” Offensive? Not the way Cho did it – just funny. 

That wasn’t the only unorthodox or taboo path Cho took, but her ties to the communities she lampoons save her from exploitation charges. Things did get semi-political at one point, starting with the Chic-Fil-A controversy over CEO Dan Cathy’s publicly aired opinions on gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act – which she pointed out made KFC seem more like a gay pride organization in comparison (titled “Kentucky Pride,” of course). She didn’t just throw darts at one side of the aisle, though. Cho also brought up Dan Savage’s campaign to boycott Russian vodka in the face of the nation’s anti-gay legislation. It’s something she supported, but with a wry lamentation attached: it’ll be difficult to get gay men to give up vodka, seeing as how it doesn’t have any carbs.

Cho often turned to her Asian heritage too, though she had to give a bit of her history first. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1964, and she was born here in 1968.  Cho described herself as “awkwardly Asian – I looked like one of those people who eat every part of an animal,” and talked about being so poor that her mother told her to “use rice instead of glue or tape” when the family couldn’t afford school supplies.  Feeling like an outcast herself as a child led her to feel the need to acknowledge gay kids, because they “get bullied a lot”. 

To end the show, Cho brought out musician Edward Herda and sang a duet, treating the audience (and even inviting them to join in on the chorus) to beautiful vocals and silly lyrics paying homage to a very personal part of her anatomy – which part, I’ll leave up to your imagination. Suffice it to say she left the city the same way she arrived – pushing buttons, enlightening minds and, above all, hilarious.

Categories: Comedy

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