Cho culture

Margaret Cho’s Beautiful Tour

Margaret Cho once said, “Artists are supposed to comment on culture. That’s, uh, the function of art.” (I think it came out somewhere between her screaming and contorting and detailing the female orgasm, pity sex, the war that’s just a big “penis contest,” race relations and LGBTQI rights during her Revolution tour). And despite the fact that a step back from a Cho performance can sound like an animalistic battle to the distracted ear, an attentive examination of her ideas always yields something interesting—a few nuggets of thought that you can take home, kick around in the old noggin&Rsquo;, then regurgitate with authority because, oh yes, she already went there.

    In a cultural climate that doesn&Rsquo;t always challenge artists to comment on something (anything!) meaningful, Cho barges onto the stage with enough intelligent opinion, hip swagger, neck swivel and loudness to take care of the whole uninspired lot.

    Schooled on Haight Street in San Francisco and introduced to the popular spotlight when a contest landed her an opening gig for Jerry Seinfeld, Cho has delivered her message of empowerment through humor (however raunchy, graphic and self-deprecating it may be) both on stage and in film.

    Her current tour, Beautiful, explores the “rigid and unattainable” standards of what society considers attractive. If it sounds cliché, that’s because you’ve never seen it performed by a woman whose not afraid to champion “ugly.”

    Cho’s humor is occasionally over the top and usually played to the type of audience who cheers when she waves her nonmaternal instincts around the stage. But the bottom line of a Cho performance is always empowerment, and it’s always a raucously good time.

Margaret Cho’s Beautiful, with special guest Ian Harvie, Friday, May 9, 8 p.m. $39.50-59.50. Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis, 1 Shields Avenue;