By Brett Shaw
Strutting onto the Englert stage in a Christmas sweater, pajama shorts, torn leggings, and boots, Margaret Cho exhibited absolute fearlessness before delivering her opening bit about Donald Trump’s exotic sex life.
Cho has had a thriving career throughout her 34 years in comedy. On the evening of April 6, Cho graced a crowd of eager Mission Creek Festival attendees with her signature shamelessness and vulgarity.
Many audience members were unsure of how to respond to Cho’s material, nervously glancing at their peers or just flat-out screaming in shock.
Funnily enough, her explicit stories of sexual mishaps with celebrities were actually the tamer portion of her set. Jokes about her being so promiscuous that the HPV vaccine comes from “milking [her] p***y like a cobra” left the crowd disgusted with laughter.
The real controversy arose when Cho made jokes about her experience with sexual assault. As a child, Cho was raped by her uncle. She then detailed why she avoids family gatherings, contending that she would have to have sex with him again because they never technically broke up.
The audience took less kindly to this disturbing humor and emitted moans of concern and disapproval. To which Cho wittily responded, “look at you all, shaming the victim.” Rape jokes are a tricky subject, especially when coming from a victim of rape, but Cho excellently worked the audience by setting up such an ingeniously timed punchline.
Other topics from Cho’s material included whitewashing in Hollywood, her sexuality, aging, Asian stereotypes, and her sexuality again. The show consistently had overt themes of sex, which is the brand of comedy that Cho has built in her career.
Selena Luna opened for Cho. Luna, a disabled Mexican woman whose confessional comedy mines the humor in her life as a little person. Luna drew attention to how her “miniature” and “adorable” size allows for her to be, well, “a c*nt”.
Luna was truly outrageous — a complementary act to Cho. Both performers’ inappropriate vernacular and critique of racist America hit all of the right notes with a liberal, college-town audience.