The title of Margaret Cho's 2015 special, PsyCHO, isn't just a play on her last name — "There's no 'i' in team, but there is a 'cho' in psycho" — it's meant to suggest the world itself has turned psycho. But not even this veteran comic can take on every problem.
Cho begins her hour talking about race in Hollywood, veering from the development of Fresh Off the Boat to the flack she received for playing a North Korean general at the Golden Globes ("I think white people want to tell Asian people how they should feel about race because they're too scared to tell black people"), before taking a moment to acknowledge the death of her "parents in comedy," Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. While she was clearly pained by both of their deaths, she masterfully retells a couple of unheard jokes from Rivers.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Margaret Cho special without a healthy dose of sex jokes. She shares stories about her attraction to gay men, her love of sex toys, her experience as a bisexual ("There's a side of me that likes dick: the inside"), how she's gained weight in her vagina and works the crowd, contorting her face to mimic the facial expressions of gay men in the audience who were grossed out at the sight of a vagina.
But even with her in-your-face honesty, many of her jokes don't go far enough. She lands a few one liners, but when she delves into deeper subjects — like the need for feminism, growing up gay, wanting to have children and her struggle with addiction — she jumps from one subject to the next a bit too quickly and isn't able to flesh out solid material that truly reflects her unique perspective.
She may not deliver the same sharp, smart and pointed jokes she did back in the early 2000s, but her voice and ability to fearlessly tackle sexuality, gender and race will always be needed as comedy remains oversaturated with straight, white men.
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.