Margaret Cho: Beautiful Lorene Machado

Margaret Cho: Beautiful Lorene Machado
Margaret Cho: Beautiful is the comedian's fifth concert video, and it acts as a record of Cho at a stage in her career where she really doesn't have to try too hard. This special was shot just prior to Obama's election, and the mood is appropriately celebratory and decidedly partisan, with supporters of Proposition 8 (to legalize gay marriage in California) and their placards present and accounted for ― this being a much less successful cause than Obama's candidacy, of course. The DVD begins in fairly typical fashion, with a succession of fans expressing their enthusiasm. Soon, a newly svelte Cho comes out to bask in their applause. She starts in with, "I fucking hate Sarah Palin," to wild cheers. This is followed shortly by her admission that she would still eat the vice-presidential candidate's pussy from behind. To those who've seen Cho's earlier concert films like The Notorious C.H.O., this is pretty standard stuff. Cho is an exceptionally good physical comedian who puts her rubbery, expressive face and body to work in her routines, never more than in her affectionate, crowd-pleasing impersonation of her arch-Korean mother. Her frankness about matters sexual and racial never undermines her essential cheerfulness, even when she's venting her anger about Bush, homophobes, etc. The trouble is, what once sounded edgy and daring has grown a bit stale. The film comes across as a kind of victory lap, with Cho pandering unabashedly to her crowd. The whole show is based on celebrating beauty, both hers and her audience's, and affirming the solidarity of a sex-positive left. The trouble is, much of the best comedy arises from feelings of inadequacy, disenfranchisement ― pain in general. All this positivity acts as a wet blanket; Cho's material is mostly just plain unfunny. The concert was shot at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, where Richard Pryor: Live In Concert was filmed in the late '70s. Cho refers to Pryor as her main inspiration. This video could use more of Pryor's lacerating self-loathing. The only extra on the DVD is a standard-issue behind-the-scenes promo that's perfectly in keeping with the rest of the package. (E1)