Margaret Cho – “Beautiful”

On Wednesday I went with D to see Margaret Cho.

The show was at 10pm and as we arrived the 8pm show crowd were just spilling out onto the street.  It was perhaps the gayest theatre audience I have ever seen, except for the audience for the 10pm show, which was even more so.  D wondered at it.  Where did all these handsome men and cuties (not entirely mutually exclusive categories) come come from?  How come we hadn’t seen them at the Mardi Gras film festival?

I can only speculate, but a few stabs at an indirect answer to D’s amazement are:

  1. there were quite a few American expatriates in the audience (one, not necessarily in this category but probably so since otherwise a bit of a poseur, even had an “Obama 08” t-shirt);
  2. judging by the audience response, not only the expatriates were US-savvy – are these returned (from the US) expatriates? or are these cable watchers who get more detail on US culture than I do?  For example, they knew the name of the congressman busted in the toilet.  I knew the story well, but not the name.  It’s clear they also watched TV shows which I don’t watch.
  3. Cho is an international celebrity (in the sense of coming from outside Australia) and such a visit and live appearance have their own draw-power;
  4. People dress up more for a $60-65-a-head live event than for a $10-15 a head film.

Margaret Cho was supported by Ian Harvie, a female to male pre-op transsexual lesbian.

I was a little disappointed in the evening  It wasn’t so much the performers as the genre.  I am not sure if I have ever been to a night of stand-up comedy before but this event made me realise why if I have I have forgotten it and if I haven’t why that is the case.  There is a kind of mass-hysteria when a bunch of people get together in a room determined to be amused, and a kind of mutual desperation then seems to yolk performer to audience.  I didn’t think everything Ian or Margaret said was all that funny, and some of the ploys (including no small amount of audience flattery on Margaret’s part) struck me as pretty transparent.  (It must be rare that a comedian does not tell his or her audience that they have been terrific, but the flattery went further than that.)  So even when I got close to abandoning myself to mirth, I still felt self-conscious and as though I was in some way forcing it.  I have enjoyed Cho’s filmed shows on TV.  Maybe this is a rare occasion where I will enjoy the film (which can be edited for the best takes or versions of the jokes over a number of performances) over the live gig.

Perhaps my expectations are too high.  Maybe whatever it was is my problem, a bit like when I had to leave Nigel Kennedy’s concert last year because I couldn’t bear him cheering the audience along and telling us all what a good time we were having when I didn’t find his playing quite so remarkable at all.  Nigel and Margaret have uncovered my curmudgeonly streak.

I don’t want to overstate this.  I did laugh, and over all, a good time seems to have been had by all.

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