Posted | Comments Off
Review: Cho brings ‘Mother’ to Oahu
REVIEW BY JACQUELYN CARBERRY / firstname.lastname@example.org
Forget what you’ve heard about her. Though comedienne Margaret Moran Cho does have the reputation of being outspoken and daring, it’s not out of shock value that Cho likely says the things she does. It’s more as if Cho likes to talks about the things she holds near and dear to her, which in this case is her sexuality; her experiences as both a minority and second-generation Korean-American on the mainland; and her long-suffering parents.
It’s almost as if Cho can’t help herself. She’s just an open person.
The L.A.-based comic was in town Saturday, Feb. 9, for two performances at the Hawaii Theatre as part of her 2013 “Mother” tour. She also performed the previous night on Maui, where a few appreciative audience members — knowing her taste for marijuana — threw bags of pot on the stage to show their love for her. Think reefers instead of roses.
On stage, the three-time Grammy Award nominee is a unique and complex mix of braveness, bubbliness and vulnerability. Jokes are delivered in a kindly, relatable way; she almost reminds you of a sister or aunt. As my companion Saturday afternoon described Cho, the comic is more apt to laugh at herself and situations and point out hypocrisy rather than pummel a target. The early show was well-received; a nearly full house gave her a standing ovation.
A touching segment in which Cho depicted her self as an awkward child — skinny and shorn bald due to having lice — showed the soft side of her personality. Describing an experience in which she sat sat all alone in an auditorium despite being surrounded by hundreds of other kids, Cho managed to turn it around, telling herself “I’m going to be a star!” It perfectly captured the different facets of Cho’s personality.
Though “Mother” is the name of the show, oddly, her take-no-prisoners mother (as fans know Mrs. Cho) was given the least amount of time as a topic, whereas in the past, the elder Chos have long been a staple of performances. A funny bit involving her mother had Cho accidentally sexting her, much to Mrs. C’s delight, who was just happy to hear from her daughter.
A Cho fan might delight in tales of her parents, down to the screechy accents she uses to caricature them, while others might cringe at the merciless mimicry, passing the time until she moves along to another topic. (Cho has previously talked about her love for her parents and has spoken of the respect she feels for them as first-generation immigrants who went on to open a gay bookstore in the Bay Area.)
Beyond mocking her parents for comedic effect, the comic is aware of the presence she holds in the spotlight, and perhaps the responsibility, too. In the past, Cho has spoken of her experiences as a Korean-American who had negative experiences working in a very homogenized Hollywood — “too Asian” and “not Asian enough” were some of the criticisms hurled at her, ironically, by non-Asian producers, but also about being raised in the fairly liberal San Francisco area, which hadn’t seen their share of “FOBs” in her neighborhood. (Fresh off the boat, as Cho calls her immediate family.)
For this show, the comic was most comfortable talking about topics in the LBGT community, which Cho is a part of as a bisexual woman. She also seemed to warm up to her tales of past sexual escapades, including her adventures in online dating and masturbation and experiences with past girlfriends.
“Women are so hard to please,” said Cho. “That’s how I know being gay is not a choice.”
Gone is the anger Cho revealed in the past. Left in its place is a need to represent the LBGT community well and provide an open forum.
Ironically, feedback about her shows from the lesbian community hasn’t always gone well for Cho. According to one bit, a British woman approached her asking for more representation for lesbians. Think “lesbian representation” delivered in a outrageous, if not-so-tony accent. This is Cho, after all.
Other topics of note in Cho’s show include Manti Te’o, and her time protraying Kim Jong-il — yes, that Kim Jong-il — on “30 Rock.” (It should be noted that Cho has been nominated for an Emmy for her work on that show.)
Opening act Selene Luna, a personal friend of Cho’s, complemented Cho both in delivery and in choice of topics. She, too, also centered her act around her sexual appetite and her preference for smoking pot on a daily basis. Or in Cho’s case, medical marijuana that was prescribed by a doctor as an antidote to boredom.
This is Cho’s life. We’re just invited to the show.