We Want Margaret

I'm The One That I Want runs through Sunday, July 9 at the UC Theatre, 2036 University Ave. Call 843-3456 for more information.





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The most controversial comedians of our times have always had their most defining moments recorded for show on the big screen. Richard Pryor had Live On The Sunset Strip in the '70s. Eddie Murphy had Raw in the '80s. And now, in the same groundshaking vein, Margaret Cho has I'm The One That I Want.

And it's about time! In case you're completely out of the loop, Margaret Cho is probably the most successful Asian-American stand-up comedian to ever grace the stage. Her act usually employs that over-the-top, foul-mouthed humor we love from Murphy and Pryor, but in her case it is perfectly tailored for a '00s audience -- the kind of audience who has reappropriated the word "faggot" to have a positive connotation.

The 90-minute long I'm The One That I Want documents Cho's most recent live show of the same name, which had a critically-acclaimed run off Broadway over the past year. It is a film that finds her returning to her San Francisco roots, performing at the Warfield and even inviting her family to be a part of all the raunchiness for the very first time.

Even her mother is in attendance. Yup, the woman whom Cho is most famous for mocking is in the house, watching her daughter imitate and exaggerate her Korean accent in person - all in good fun, of course. We never get to see her reaction to her daughter during the show, unfortunately, but we do manage to get a brief glimpse of what the woman herself looks like as she walks into the theater beforehand. She's probably the most-loved Asian mother out there right now who has never even been seen by most of her fans, and I must say, she really looks nothing like the woman who played Cho's mom in ABC's ill-fated "All American Girl."

That sitcom -- the first to ever be about an Asian-American family -- is what the majority of Cho's material is about on I'm The One That I Want. It's almost your typical "E! True Hollywood Story" story -- girl gets thrown into the romantic extremes of Hollywood, girl gets hospitalized for an eating disorder, girl's sitcom gets canned, and girl goes on a downward spiral into drugs, sex and alcohol until she finally realizes she wants to make herself happy, not everyone else.

This roller coaster of a journey is what makes film documentation of I'm The One That I Want so vital. Future sociologists and historians will go bonkers about this Asian-American woman's experience in '90s Hollywood, while audiences now and for years to come can find proof once again that Hollywood isn't all it's cracked up to be.

In relaying to us these troubled times, Cho does something that we've never seen her do in a show before -- she gets dead serious. We find out about her addiction to diet pills, how she lost 30 pounds in just two weeks, and how she had to work for a network who hired an Asian consultant to deal with her not being "Asian enough." Of course, it is all laced with Cho's sarcastic wit to soften the blows on us, but at the end the scars Cho bears are still dreadfully apparent.

I'm The One That I Want does not run entirely on this sort of down note, however. Having been well-versed in gay life ever since childhood -- she grew up on Polk Street in the '70s, for Pete's sake -- Cho goes on a sidesplittingly funny and seemingly endless rant about gay men and the pros and cons of being a "fag hag." And does she know her stuff! She goes all over the gay map, from how Karl Lagerfeld really uses his trademark fan to fan his "flames" all the way over to who her favorite gay porn star is (Jeff Stryker, in case you wanted to know).

But the crowning moments in any of Cho's performances have always been the bits about her mom, and here they come up countless times. From her mom realizing that her baby daughter looks like a little lesbian to her anticlimactic response to the sitcom deal, Cho's mother gets the full treatment. Any second-generation Asian is guaranteed to fall on the floor laughing -- she hits it all that well.

This concert film is definitely all about the Margaret Cho that we love and laugh along with so much. It's only a wish come true that we can now watch it in a form like this -- we'll be laughing with it from years to come. Just like how we still do Eddie's and Richard's.

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