Margaret Cho: Beautiful

As a Margaret Cho fan from way back, I sympathize with efilmcritic.com’s Eric D. Snider, who gave three stars (out of five) to Cho’s 2005 concert film Assassin. At that point, Cho had become more of a knee-jerk Republican-basher than the personal comedian she’d started out as, and while I’m always up for GOP-grilling, it didn’t make me laugh so much as just nod in agreement. If we’re listening to you, Margaret, we know this stuff already; make with the funny.

Fortunately, Beautiful — Cho’s first concert film in four years — goes lighter on the liberal call-and-response, though she does kick off by saying “I fuckin’ hate Sarah Palin.” But then she winds up admitting, “I kinda wanna fuck her.” Most of the show takes its cue from that; this is probably Cho’s dirtiest collection of material since 2002’s Notorious C.H.O. She started the decade with the superb, eye-opening I’m the One That I Want, in which she exuberantly fessed up to her sexual misadventures, and now finishes the ’00s with a tribute to the folly and beauty of the sexual animal.

My guess is that being neck-deep in the Bush era for most of the decade gave Cho a lot of temporary agita and an urgent need to vent. (And it did make many like-minded listeners feel less alone, but the comedy got lost in the comfort.) In this concert, filmed in Long Beach about a week before the 2008 election, Cho seems more relaxed, more relieved. She seems pretty confident that Obama will get in; sadly, she also seems to assume that Prop 8 will get slapped down. In any event, without years of Bush ahead of her, Cho feels more free to get down and dirty. Even a bit about hypocritical Republican politicians who troll for sex on the down low becomes an occasion for more raunch. And, having seen this film, I now think Sacha Baron Cohen needs to hand his Brüno trophy for air-simulating fellatio over to Cho.

The major disappointment here is the shortage of Cho-imitates-her-mom bits; there are a couple of brief bits, but it’s as if Cho didn’t want her mom to get any more pissed off at her than she already was (over Cho’s tattoos). But Beautiful is generally so generously filthy that there really isn’t much room for Cho to bring her mom into the bacchanal. Gay sex, straight sex, the difference between gay penises and hetero penises — there’s very little ground she doesn’t cover, including her dabbling in “G-shots” and anal bleaching and her love of ass-eating. And she wants us to know it’s all good, it’s all beautiful. By the end, there’s only one place left to go, and it’s into song — a grand finale called “Eat Me Out,” belted out with brio, with the camera tracking back dramatically as she hits the final hilarious, triumphant note on “vaginaaaaaa.”

Once again, Cho has gotten in touch with her inner slut (a term she no longer uses here, perhaps because of its negative connotations) and reported back to us from the frontline of her pussy. The main thing to note here is that, if you’re like Eric Snider and me and felt let down by Cho’s previous two Dubya-haunted, preaching-to-the-choir concert films, it’s now safe to go back into the water — this one delivers.

Explore posts in the same categories: comedy, concert film

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