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Cho keeps things personal, and the audience eats it up

By Nancy J. Parisi

News contributing reviewer

Comedian Margaret Cho’s rollicking hourlong performance Friday night in the Helium Comedy Club was equal parts matter-of-fact sex-ed class, bon vivant life coaching and group true confessional.

The early show was nearly sold out, and she will be performing two shows tonight.

Cho meandered on stage in her customary uniform of one-of-the-gang T-shirts and black pants, her long black hair tousled.

She wrestled with the microphone for several minutes to fix the audio troubles that had plagued the opening comedian’s set.

“I am so butch right now,” she said, as she swapped out mic cables.

Her fans, a mix of straight and gay couples and groups of friends, offered up a huge “Whoot!” of approval.

It was also acknowledgement that the hundreds present knew what they were in for: Cho laying herself bare, in comedic fashion.

As if the audience was not aware of Cho’s back story, she offered up her classifications: bisexual – and she likes to hang out with gay guys.

Cho engaged in intimate exchanges with audience members in her proximity. When another stageside table revealed themselves to be lesbians, Cho asked why they hadn’t assisted her with her mic dilemma earlier.

Although the show is billed as her “Mother Tour,” Cho’s oft-quoted and mimicked mother made but a few scant appearances at Friday’s performance. But what mother jokes were made were met with grand laughs.

In these jokes is a communal, juvenile disdain of unwelcome parental wisdom (however spot-on it may be). The invocation of Mom, and her selective understandings, keep the Cho show from careening too far down Porno Lane.

A highpoint of the show was Cho’s recounting of her mother explaining homosexuality to her as a young girl.

Cho had great fun with a gay male audience member who revealed his limited know-how with the opposite sex. When his partner returned to the table, she blurted out his past experience on his behalf, to the great delight of the audience.

She peppered the partner with questions until he blurted out, “Are we really having this conversation?”– to even more audience glee. It was consummate Cho: orchestrating the crashing of collective comedy with intimate happenstance.

Opening comic Jim Short, a San Franciscan by way of Texas and Australia, is a hulking, bedimpled man who specializes in self-deprecating humor. Telling the audience that this was his first appearance in Buffalo, he riffed on nearby Canada and American ignorance of most things Canadian.

If posing as Canadians while traveling abroad, here is how Americans would answer if asked which Canadian city they are from: “VanCouverMellencamp.”

“You’re all boisterous,” he said, launching into a send-up of stateside political ridiculousness, including Donald Trump.

“America is not ready for an orange president,” Short said.

He made light of the microphone troubles during his set, joking that he would be starting all his jokes over. “I’m the guinea pig for the microphone test,” he said, acknowledging that everyone was there for Cho.

But several left Short fans for sure – he’s that solid.