BY LINDA DANIELE
Comedienne Margaret Cho has a message for Sydney audiences about celebrating diversity, but ‘funny’ is the bottom line. The award winning US performer will premiere her new show Beautiful in Australia as part of the Sydney Mardi Gras Festival.
Cho says she’ll explore the nature of beauty in her show, what is funny and scary about it, and why we often don’t feel beautiful because our society’s standards are so rigid and unattainable.
“A DJ once asked me, ‘If you woke up tomorrow and you were beautiful, what would you do’ If you were, blonde, blue-eyed, 5 foot 11, and weighed 100 pounds, what would you do”’, she says. “Well, I probably wouldn’t get up in that case, because I’d be too weak to stand. If that is his only idea of beauty then I feel really sorry for him.” Cho wants everyone to feel beautiful and she wants to do it with laughter. ‘Why not feel good about ourselves”, she says.
Born and raised in San Francisco, the comedian-cum-burlesque performer started doing stand-up at the age of 16 in a comedy club above a bookshop run by her parents. She says that growing up in a US gay heartland in the 1970s was a confusing, enlightening and wonderful time. “It was different than any other place on earth. There were old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts from the ’60s, drag queens, and Chinese people. To say it was a melting pot, that’s the least of it.”
Following up with extensive tours of her one-woman shows, Cho’s most recent, The Sensuous Woman, introduced music and vaudevillian burlesque into her risqué comedy mix. Last year, she hit the road with musical divas Cyndi Lauper and Deborah Harry to host the True Colors tour, benefiting the Human Rights Campaign in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.
Frank, unashamed disclosures on stage and down-and-dirty comic style have made Cho a beloved figure in the gay world. “I don’t care about mainstream acceptance, because it’s never going to be what I want to be”, she explains. “I just speak my truth. I guess speaking from your heart really creates a huge impact. If I could encourage people to use their voices loudly, then that’s my reward.”
Cho’s new show Beautiful is a return to her politically inflected stand-up roots and will be the first time she has premiered a show overseas. She says she is really looking forward to it. “I love Australia. The audiences are so smart and rowdy, it’s really exciting. I love that you just voted out Bush’s boyfriend, John Howard. How thrilling!”
Margaret Cho, Beautiful
Feb 27-28, 8pm & 10pm
Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay
$65 Bookings: 9250 1999, http://www.sydneytheatre.org.au