Cho Brings Revolution to Kresge
Sold-Out Comedy Show the Highlight of Fall FestivalBy Daniel Scolnic
Margaret Cho and Bruce Daniels
Oct. 3, 8 p.m.
The sold out crowd in Kresge Auditorium savored every one of Margaret Cho’s flinches and flexes. If her entire performance had consisted of just scrunching up her face and twisting her body around, making incoherent noises, the show would still have been a riot.
After a preview of what was to come by Bruce Daniels, Cho came out stuffed in an oversized sweatshirt that “reminded her of 8 Mile.” The sweatshirt did not last long, not only because we could barely see her, but because her stage presence broke through it. This presence increasingly emerged as the show progressed; it seemed amazing that so much life and energy could come out of one body.
This life and energy materialized as political attacks, gay and lesbian rights, as well as self-deprecating stories that she told because she felt she needed “to say too much.” She never did say too much though; she could not give “too much information” because, and she was absolutely right, we need it.
Time and time again, Cho would firmly stand up for a political cause and then at the height of her speech on the issue, make a joke to bring it back down. The audience kept falling for this tactic not because of the lack of intelligence of the spectators (Cho was strongly aware of the opposite), but because her ideas about the problems of society were so intelligent.
Cho’s biggest problem, and the show’s major difficulty, was how to balance substantive stances on politics while still doing a comedy show. Although Cho could do each separately, by the end of the evening, when she talked about gay rights, everyone was just waiting for the joke to come. Her jokes were always the best when they were just jokes.
These jokes worked incredibly well because she would get so successfully immersed into character that the audience lost itself in the performance. It felt as if Cho relived her past experiences onstage. At one point in particular, after imitating her mom talking about the adhesiveness of rice, it took Cho a few moments to break herself out of character. While these moments were not part of the skit, they were so adorable and exemplified how much Cho put into her show. It was amazing to see her switch from being a Bangkok strip club advertiser to a woman with children issues.
As Cho switched from character to character, she had the audience with her at every move. Usually it was her long pauses and things she did not say that were the funniest part of her stories. She understood that the more she did not say, the funnier everything she did say would be. Her ability to express so much without speaking works so well for her because she had so much to say (as was found out in the Q&A and rap sessions). She admitted that while she “will still follow society,” she is going to “keep it real.” As much as she is annoyed by the problems in society, she still loves it. Cho projected this idea onto herself and the audience as well. She knows that we will do dumb things that only someone without fear of self-humiliation would reveal in public.
In making us love her, Margaret Cho makes us love each other, frailties and all.