Margaret Cho takes on Vancouver for JFL Northwest

Photo by. Niv Hoffman
Photo by. Niv Hoffman

JFL Northwest—a joint effort of Northwest Comedy Fest and Just For Laughs—kicked off last week in Vancouver and one of the first acts was veteran American comedian and multi-talented performer Margaret Cho. Friend and fellow The Cho Show cast member Selene Luna started off the night, and drew a large amount of her comedy material from being both a little person and of Mexican heritage. Speaking about having “little shame” and her findings that fetish is a straight man’s game, Luna’s jokes were unapologetic and adorably dirty as she struggled with a cough throughout her whole set. The audience at The Vogue applauded and hollered encouragingly to help her along, and her high point came when she stated, “If I make it to heaven, God would make me a cupid and I don’t look good in a diaper.”

Setting a topical theme to the night, headliner Margaret Cho first off congratulated the audience on Justin Trudeau. “We like Bernie but he’s not as hot,” said Cho, much to the audience’s delight. Wearing a shirt that read “Whose Jizz Is This”, Cho ripped into her country’s dramatic current political situation, knowing fully well that we as Canadians are laughing at the U.S. right now as presidential hopefuls duke it out.

Both Cho and Luna focused a portion of their material on Vancouver’s good weed; this is a major trend with comedians who both visit and live in B.C., and it does get old very quickly. But Cho’s hilariously smart observations about the Asian population in Vancouver made up for it and were aided by spot-on impressions based on her own Korean background and family characterizations. True to her reputation as a comedian who does not shy away from taboo topics including sexuality and race, Cho acted out performing oral sex, nailed both Kim Jong Un and Orange is the New Black Chang character impersonations, and pulled down her pants to show us the tattoos on her ass.

One of the highlights of the night was Cho’s stance on the current Jian Ghomeshi trial. She has been very vocal since the scandal broke in 2014 as both a survivor of sexual assault and as a former guest of Q. It was refreshing to hear an American comedian be so up to date on Canadian current events and politics, especially to a degree where she was able to recognize that the Ghomeshi trial can be viewed as a pre-curser for how Bill Cosby’s own trials will go in the states. While this paved the way for a few unsavory rape jokes, Cho juxtaposed pro-women’s justice stances with raunchy commentary in a fairly eloquent manner.

Closing with two very different songs—one about killing her rapist and the other about fat vaginas—Cho united the taboo elements of her show for her farewell and left Vogue guests with a strong impression of the comedian’s style, passions, current work life and beliefs. But it was Cho’s apparent familiarity with her Canadian audience that made the JFL Northwest show easy to go along with.