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Sydney Comedy Festival: Margaret Cho

Joe Istiphan doesn’t like vagina. Specifically, Margaret Cho’s.


Gather round everybody, I have something very important to share with you: it turns out Margaret Cho has a vagina. I know this because she spent the majority of her show, “Mother” (one of the headline acts of this year’s Sydney Comedy Festival), describing, in elaborate detail, its width, its breadth and its striking resemblance to an airline pillow.

The festival website says that the show “offers up an untraditional look at Motherhood and how we look at maternal figures and strong women in queer culture.” What it neglects to mention is that this look is aimed directly up the vaginal tract.

References to mothers/motherhood were surprisingly thin on the ground. Instead, Cho pandered shamelessly to her Will-and-Grace-watching, Tegan-and-Sara-listening, Mardi- Gras-marching audience by spending the first ten minutes of her show encouraging them
to support the push for gay marriage before going on to declare that both Jesus and John Travolta were both “sooooooooo gaaaaaaay!”

Occasionally she would also throw in a reference to Australian culture (“Vegemite!” “Julia Gillard!”), and as with every invocation of gay culture (“Amyl nitrate!” “Fag hags!”), she was always rewarded with the audience’s riotous approval.

While I quickly tired of being introduced to every person to have ever braved the (apparently) expansive depths of Cho’s genitals, there were a few highlights. Chief among them were the story Cho told about accidentally sexting her mother and her impression of the militant lesbians who traditionally coordinate the Mardi Gras parade. Bizarrely though, she chose to end the show by bringing out Bob Downes (who had clearly spent the previous hour being thawed out of the deep freeze of his own cultural irrelevance) for an awkward and poorly rehearsed rendition of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s “Jackson.”

Like Cho, I largely consider my genitals to be a joke, but not one that can be sustained for over an hour (believe me, I’ve tried.). However, while I may not have found her particularly “edgy” or “transgressive,” Cho is clearly an incredibly engaging performer. The whole show felt entirely improvised, but she never missed a beat and the audience (minus me) totally loved it.