Margaret Cho returns to the concert stage with a “killer” stand-up show, filmed live at the Warner Theater in Washington DC, which breaks new ground in its hilarious attack on politics and society. Filmed live at the Warner Theater in Washington DC, Assassin features a fresh dose of Margaret’s controversial and hilarious brand of humor. Taking aim at the media, organized religion and national policy, she pulls no punches in her assault on our “ever devolving” cultural state. The result is a performance featuring Margaret at her raw and irreverent best.
Years ago, I picked up Margaret Cho’s ‘Revolution’ show on DVD. While I wasn’t completely blown away by the humour, I enjoyed it enough that I watched all the extras as well as the show. And kept my eye out for another one.
‘Assassin’ is her follow-up DVD (although she had another stand-up show in between the two, it was not released on home video), and it continues much in the same vein as the previous one: it’s a combination of sex, politics and pop culture.
The material was excellent, but its key weakness is that it’s rooted in a certain era – the mid ’00s, after George W. Bush was re-elected. The problem is that the audience needs to be familiar with the politics and pop culture of the day to get many of the references and, thus, the humour. Without that, many of the jokes were impotent. I can’t imagine been an issue when originally performed but, over time, it loses its freshness.
Bruce Daniels was the opening act for Cho’s ‘Revolution’ show as well, and both DVDs include his full set as a bonus feature. We watched it first, to set the stage, as it was intended. He was very funny, focusing on relationships and sex in his short, approximately 12 minutes on stage. This was just the right length, given the material, and I’d love to see what else he’s been up to.
Strangely, Daniels was slightly static, standing in place with the mic glued to his lower lip, as though frozen in place with invisible fear. Cho also only stood there the whole time, but she was more dynamic than Daniels. Still, both were quite good, despite this aversion to mobility.
A thing that left me quizzical is Cho’s tendency to pause for applause. Does she manufacture the applause by waiting until people cheer/egg her on, or does she patiently wait for them to get it out of their system? Either way, it is unmistakably deliberate, and it’s the mark of a pro. Having said that, whether or not one sees it as manipulation may affect one’s appreciation of her weathered skill in those instances.
All in all, though, I’d say that I’ve had a good sense of what Margaret Cho’s about with those two shows. I’ve enjoyed them, but I don’t feel the urge to explore her stand-up comedy any further (although her other works, perhaps… ). There are so many comedians, and so little time; Cho made it in the top of my list, but there are others who deserve some attention too.