Rocky career plateaus at Uptown

By Fraser Tingle

Half comedy show, half confessional, I’m The One That I Want was filmed during one of Margaret Cho’s stand-up performances in San Francisco. The title refers to her victory over low self-esteem and suicidal tendencies. Not exactly the ripest comedic material, but Margaret Cho is endlessly charming. Like all good comics, Cho has taken the pain of her life and laid it bare in the hopes that people will laugh. And upon seeing this movie, many probably will.

She begins her act with a lengthy monologue about homosexuality. Apparently Margaret Cho has quite a loyal following in the gay community. At one point she deadpans, "When I was young, I wished that one day I would be surrounded by gorgeous guys… I should’ve been more specific." One of her fans sent her a basket filled with Vidal Sassoon hair products, for which she was grateful, until she noticed they were all for "dry, damaged hair," a punchline she follows with a face of mock offense.

The bulk of her performance, however, is dedicated to her personal trials. She discusses the launch of her TV show, All American Girl, and the network’s request that she lose weight, which initiated her struggle with self-image. She refers to her short-lived show as "Saved By The Gong" but seems genuinely proud that she was part of the first program to feature an Asian American lead.

Cho finds and exploits many opportunities to poke fun at the absurdities of Hollywood and her experience there. The sitcom’s eventual cancellation led Cho to alcoholism and drug abuse. At one point, her former manager told her that the "Asian thing puts people off."

"Asian thing?" she asks. "Like it’s just something I pull out of my ass every couple of years?"

The turning point in her life came one morning after she and her equally dysfunctional boyfriend woke up after a typical night of drug and alcohol abuse, unable to determine which one of them had wet the bed. She calls this epiphany her "Behind-the-Music: Motley Crüe" moment.

Her life is certainly interesting, and her ability to poke fun at herself is admirable, but the jokes are of the hit or miss variety, and they do miss occasionally. One’s enjoyment of the film depends as well upon one’s taste in comedy. Cho leans decidedly towards the crude side of the comedic spectrum. Fans of Ms. Cho will no doubt be delighted, while non-fans might just be surprised at how funny pain can be.

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