Austin’s Paramount, built in Baroque Revival style, was a beautiful location for the show. The walls and ceiling were filled with ornate and elaborate decorations, including a painting of an angel and gargoyles of what might have been Dionysus on either side by the gallery seating.
The Paramount was also appropriate for this particular event as its original purpose was to stage vaudeville acts. On the night of Cho’s performance, the stage was lined with a black curtain, including only a stool and a microphone as set pieces.
By curtain, the house was almost full, with hundreds of audience members eagerly awaiting the performance.
Jim Short, a comedian who co-hosts Monsters of Talk podcast with Cho, opened the show.
An Australian native, Short brought insights like those of other foreign comedians like Eddie Izzard, who are able to see American culture from the outside.
Short was witty and commanding, saying that “if you forget for a second” that you’re foreign in Texas, someone will remind you by noting, “You’re not from ’round here.”
Short played on the common British ancestry of Australia and America, alternating between praise for and critique of American culture, but seeming to come out on the more positive side.
Short didn’t linger long, however, before turning the microphone over to Cho.
Cho came to the stage in black cowboy boots, black jeans, and a flowing black shirt with a skull, all of which she said were bought in Austin. Cho said she was glad to be back because Austin is “so beautiful,” and gave a shout-out to Moses and Dr. Grandfather, two of her favorite rescue dogs who reside here.
Cho went on to speak of her first identity as a fag-hag, as well as her introduction to the gay community when her Korean parents bought a gay bookstore in San Francisco.
Cho didn’t let the audience get away with using cell phones during the performance, skilfully incorporating interaction with them into the narrative of the show. One audience member’s friend, for example, was late to the performance and had texted that she was parking.
Cho’s interaction with this particular offending texter turned into a recurring gag, with Cho commenting how lesbians are always early and how terrible Austin parking must be every time she saw the cell phone light.
Cho highlighted her experiences as a bisexual woman – including attempts to forge sexual relationships with straight men while remaining a fag-hag with a desire to keep the company of young gay men. Cho also commented on her own invisibility at times in the lesbian community as a self-proclaimed “Marcie femme” (think Charlie Brown).
Cho recalled how difficult it was for her to grow up as a queer child, and went on to speak about how she is interested in becoming a mother herself soon. Cho’s performance explored the highs and lows of membership in the LGBTQ community from her unique perspective, at once hilarious and poignant.
Cho’s stand-up set was rife with references to anal play, vibrators, and weed, but this is par for the course for anyone familiar with Cho’s brand of comedy. Mother was marketed as Cho’s “edgiest show to date,” but her sex-positive talk felt refreshing and honest, even if it might be risqué to some.
Cho has a history of using imitations of her own Korean mother as joke material, and I had thought her Mother tour might expand more on that relationship than it did. Especially in light of Cho’s own self-proclaimed journey toward motherhood, that kind of exploration seems prudent.
Regardless, Cho kept the audience captivated, eliciting laughter and cheers of solidarity throughout.
At the end of the show, Cho brought special guest Christeene to the stage. Dressed in a short jean skirt, a cocaine captioned t-shirt, and smeared lipstick, Christeene stayed true to her terrorist drag roots, spitting through a grill onto front row audience members while she talked.
For the finale, the duet sang “Fat Pussy,” an original composition of Cho’s which Christeene learned earlier that day.
Afterwards, Cho brought Victoria from the audience to the stage, who proposed to her partner Olivia in front of the audience. Cho urged the audience to keep fighting so that gay marriage can be a reality in Texas. Then, Cho and Christeene left the kissing couple on stage as they exited, leaving a lasting impression on the audience.
Thinking about how irreverent Cho’s comedy can be, I’m not sure what to make of this closing statement about marriage, family, and normality. Hopefully even in motherhood Cho will remain as bawdy as ever, continuing to give queer fans a window through which to celebrate the diversity of lives and choices they create for themselves.
This review was first published by The Horn on 10/24/2013.