Margaret Cho: Assassin

on September 02, 2005 by Christine James
Stand-up comedian Margaret Cho is describing an X-rated gift she received from Jeff Stryker. She starts in on the Jeff Stryker backstory, only to interrupt herself by acknowledging, "If you're here, you know who Jeff Stryker is." That says a lot about the current incarnation of Cho's act, which has become increasingly niche at the expense of those of us who don't know our gay porn superstars. Worse, while Cho may have charted much of this territory, by now it's comic terrain that's overtraveled and dangerously eroded. If the gay population goes on strike, women's roots will grow out and there will be no flower arrangements? The only people who have a right to tell someone to go back where they came from are Native Americans? Not quite as inventive as "I'm the One That You Want's" hypothetical scenario wherein fashionista Karl Lagerfeld is in prison, and his biggest concern is making a fan out of spoons.

Her scant pop culture references -- Bjork's 1996 attack of a Bangkok reporter; Zhang Ziyi's deceptively guileless "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" performance in 2000 -- are severely dated, which is all the more glaring in this era of internet instantaneousness, and Kathy Griffin's current omnipresence on TV wherein she dishes on a laundry list of celebs du jour and what they did a half-hour ago. And while there are a few glimpses of Cho's surreal yet universally relatable wit, they're buried under an avalanche of political statements that are more heartfelt than trenchant or clever (provocateur title notwithstanding), and incite obligatory applause rather than sympatico laughter.

Bookends with amateur-shot footage of audience members singing Cho's praises point up why they adore her -- "If you don't pick up the phone, that mean you gay," one concertgoer quotes from a previous show in a perfect imitation of Cho's nosy mother. It's that sort of everyday absurdist realism Cho's fans want -- not an hour-and-a-half of uninspired preaching to the choir. Starring Margaret Cho. Directed by Kerry Asmussen. Written by Margaret Cho. A Regent release. Comedy concert. Unrated. Running time: 85 min

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