Live stand up comedy movies a dying breed. After the successful films of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy in the seventies and eighties, stand up comedy moved to TV, where for a while in the mid-nineties, you could flip through your seventy cable channels and find at least a three or four comedians making their pitch in front of the brick wall. While HBO continues to be a core provider of the leading names in stand up, Margaret Cho, takes her act to the big screen with a limited theatrical release of her second concert movie, the "Notorious C.H.O.".
A completely modern movie "Notorious C.H.O." is sharply shot and edited on Digital Video by Lorene Machado, the producer and director of Margaret's first concert film, "I'm the one that I want". The movie warms up interviews with the crowds of dedicated Margaret Cho fans, lined up in the rain, waiting to get into the Paramount theatre in Seattle, where the entire concert film was shot. For a fraction of what these fans paid to see her live, us movie watchers are let into the scene.
Talking with the fans give you a clear idea, that Margaret Cho is a crusader and icon for all the freaky people out there. She is a hero for minority groups and every flavor of alternative lifestyle that you can imagine. Cho provides the empowered role model that she wishes she had growing up in San Francisco, as she points out that the only roles Hollywood offered Asian actresses then was as hooker or an extra on MASH.
Cho"s comedy frequently steps up onto a soapbox where she gets to publicly put down the politics of the moments and give her take on her own personal crusades. "93 minutes, enough time to take a pottery class" is the amount of time Cho says she saved each week by ignoring the advertising image of what you should look like and just accepting her self and her body weight as it is.
People unfamiliar with Cho's material should take note. In the tradition of Lenny Bruce and unchained comedy, Margaret Cho is not for the faint of heart, or puritan ears. There's not much in the way of good clean fun in her work, but there are a lot of laughs to be had as we wallow in the armpit of Cho's mind. Cho as a storyteller, gets into different characters to explain some of her many sexual adventures and disasters, and at times sounds like she is channeling the ghost of Sam Kinison with the raw intensity of her delivery.
And like any live concert, Cho saves the hit material till the end of the show, bringing out her impersonation of her mother, which brings it home for Cho and her fans. Her mother, who alongside her father are interviewed on what they think of their daughters crude humor, agrees with my own take, while Cho's work is explicit and rude, it's funny all the same, so lighten up and have a laugh. "Notorious C.H.O." is hardcore humor with a hip hop pace that makes you squirm and smile at the same time.
For Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2002 - Purple - Air Date: 7/3/02
USA - 2002