Margaret Cho at the Chicago Theatre October 3
Margaret Cho is like a song blasting out of the radio that you forgot to turn down before you got out of the car the last time. After a moment of indiscernible noise, you realize that this is actually one of your favorite songs and so you crank it up even louder and sing along.
The award winning comedian and actress was at the Chicago Theater on October 3rd as part of the PsyCHO tour and I would highly recommend going to check her out when she swings through your town.
The opening act, Selene Luna, treated us to our fucked up world through the eyes of a little person of color. Topics she broached ranged from white girls desperately trying to re-frame Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency as "lucky" to how the shenanigans of el Cartel in Mexico are cramping her style to why all the ghosts on those ghost hunting shows are Victorian white women. Her slamming kink and BDSM as shit bored white men came up with because they don't experience oppression as a daily occurrence was On Point and I quickly found myself becoming a huge fan. She wants to wear heels on her date despite doctors orders to wear crocs for her bad hips because nobody ever fantasizes about a woman in flats. And shes right, nobody does, but we want them to, debilitating hip condition or no. Maybe that sentiment exists inside of a vacuum or maybe it has something to do with BDSM and kink being blindly embraced as progressive in mainstream culture hmm
When Cho walks out on stage shes wearing an "I stand with Planned Parenthood" t-shirt (because of course she does!) and she immediately launches into a tirade about the Fucking Pope meeting with that Cunt Kim Davis, in much the same manner that your Best Good Girlfriend would come in at 2am bitching about a shitty night at the club. She was full of her usual snarky venom and she took on the always hot topics of race, sexuality, politics, and violence against women.
Cho presents with a lot of angry energy but I couldnt help but sense that, perhaps after years of fighting the good fight and losing (we are on the heels of yet another mass shooting perpetrated by a young man angry at the world for not feeding his entitlement to women) a sense of malaise, maybe, in her routine, which I would argue could be expected from anyone who has bothered to Pay Attention.
We can all wear Planned Parenthood T-shirts but it doesn't change the fact that the right to reproductive autonomy still does not exist for women in 2015. Meanwhile our government continues to spend billions on defense ensuring we stay entrenched in the wars that helped create the ISIS terror cells that are systematically gang-raping women as we speak. And while Cho may have a fantasy revenge plot that involves sending over her own female battalion consisting of any woman who does Curves twice a week in a plane chartered by Oprah, in actuality there doesnt seem to be a goddamn thing we can do except wait for a well-timed punchline from our favorite comedians to momentarily ease the pain by making us laugh so that we dont cry forever.
While once upon a time it was brave for a woman to just weigh more than 115 pounds and Still Have An Opinion About Shit, I think that its time to admit that the next level of bravery consists of not just bitching about the Way Things Are to People Who Already Agree, but to examine the regressive progressive politics that have left women no better off than they were 30 years ago. Women make up half the worlds population but we havent been able to change much of anything and despite this, examining the ways in which we have tried and failed is dangerous territory because in todays political climate criticizing your own becomes an exercise in no-platforming and baseless accusations of bigotry. Scary stuff.
Cho did lightly Go There in one of my favorite parts of the night in which she touched on the misogyny of the left in a particularly funny bit about the term fag hag that gay men use as a descriptor of the women who pal around with them. The gay man sitting behind me who kept saying "That's so disgusting" every time Cho talked about anything too female (like rolling your own tampons, hee!) inadvertently made this observation hit home even harder. The notion that gay men are by default allied with women is so historically false I dont know why it hasnt been talked about more in mainstream discourse. It is women, actually, who have been allies to gay men and it would have made for a very interesting routine had she probed a little further.
I recently watched an interview with Cho in which she mentioned having sex she didn't really want to have in order to justify her own "sex positivity" - a term that makes me cringe for ever having uttered it in the past and makes me cringe every time I hear it now. The surface understanding of the sex positive movement is that its about shamelessly embracing your sexuality and engaging in healthy and consensual sex. Sure sounds positive.
The actual real-life result is that women are encouraged to engage in empty hook-up culture and then are surprised to find that in its male-centeredness it isnt actually all that positive. Not for them, anyway. Meeting men off of Craigslist who want to be duck taped to the wall so that they can suck their own dick without Chos accompanying punchline simply isnt all that worthwhile.
Cho has in the past expressed some really great insight about political issues affecting women and other marginalized groups and I would have loved to have seen a deeper analysis of these things come out in her comedy, which is one of the few mediums we have that allows us to take on the stuff Were Not Supposed to Talk About and Face Some Uncomfortable Truths. For example, the latest brilliant response to the mass shooting in Oregon is something called CocksNotGlocks where students are encouraged to bring dildos to class instead of guns. What the fuck kind of statement are we trying to make with this?
Cocks are used as weapons all the time. If they werent why would Cho sing a song called I Want to Kill My Rapist? Why would Cho need to use Caitlyn Jenners Olympian Strength to murder those ISIS fuckers who are, again, systematically gang-raping women as we speak With Said Cocks?
My hope is that with the dots connected, someday soon Cho will be joking about something other than our reproductive freedom being completely revoked or the next Elliot Rodgers fan club member mowing down a group of cheerleaders for not sending him the nudes he feels entitled to for, well pretend, Very Mysterious Reasons.
Margaret Cho is one of the greatest comedians Ive ever seen and I would go see her again. But her comedy in PsyCHO felt like a band-aid over a wound that just won't heal.
But fuck if it doesnt still hurt after the punchline wears off.