The First Lady of transgressive humour puts on a rousing show at this year's Melbourne Comedy Festival
Awaiting Margaret Cho’s Melbourne Comedy Festival show, gaggles of gays, their girlfriends and others with good taste excitedly chirp to one another in the Capital Theatre stalls. A veteran of the international stand-up comedy circuit and loud voice for gay rights, Cho has gained something of a religious following.
Pope Cho stomps onto the stage in nothing but a long T-shirt that shows off her inked arms and legs, and asks whether New Zealand passed their gay marriage bill. Upon hearing it has been passed, Cho almost chokes up and suggests this will have an effect on Australia’s stance on the issue.
This disarmingly earnest open to her sermon trickles into a suggestion that gay marriage has got to be good for the economy as America attempts to tackle its debt. "It’s simply cruel", she adds, "to deprive gay men of bridal registries."
A matriarch of the international LGBTIQ community, nothing is sacred for the Korean-American comedian. In her wonderland, nuns are “all lesbians”, Jesus “was a total power bottom” and KFC should rebrand itself as "Kentucky Pride Chicken", featuring Colonel Sanders as a leather daddy.
Never pausing for a moment longer than comedic timing demands, an hour with Cho flies by at a cracking pace. The show is brimming with laugh-until-your-cheeks-hurt moments and sassy social commentary.
She takes on tough subjects, even managing to eke humour out of a tragic massacre in the US last year in which a Korean-American gunman shot down a record 32 people (“Koreans just do stuff really well”). That joke might divide some.
Cho offers up every part of herself – her family, her politics and her vibrator addiction are discussed with equal vigour. Watching Mother is kind of like having brunch with a really wild, totally entertaining girlfriend who likes to talk about fisting and do impressions of her parents. Funny, courageous and refreshing, Cho is a tatted-up messiah for transgressive stand-up comedy.