Last week I flew down to L.A. to watch Comedian Margaret Cho perform at the Irvine Improv because I've always wanted to see her tell jokes in a comedy club format. Most of the times I've seen Margaret perform live has been in large auditoriums so it was definitely a treat to see her work out in a comedy club atmosphere because I definitely learned a thing or two.
For one, I noticed that Margaret's best jokes tank in different shows just like other comics. I attended her, "Beautiful Tour" , at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco a few years back and she did this one joke about Craigslist which completely crushed the audience. So when I was watched her re-tell that joke this past week, of course I was expecting thunderous applause with big laughter, nope. And really, that happens to comics all the time, jokes are funny that way.
Margaret's timing is a lot faster these days. I saw the same thing from another former San Francisco Comic - Chelsea Peretti. I first saw Chelsea at the SF Punchline in 2004 and her joke telling was very slow, that didn't mean her jokes weren't funny, Chelsea just really elongated what she had to say.
Flash forward to a couple of years ago, I saw Chelsea again at the Punchline and I didn't even recognize her, she completely changed her look and her timing was faster too. The only way I was able to remember Chelsea was because she told some of her signature jokes.
Another thing I've noticed about Margaret is that shes more interactive with her audiences, something of which I think is a new hat for her.
I know this for a fact because my friend Comedian Erika Innes saw Margaret perform at the Sacramento Punchline in circ 2005 and when Margaret talked about abortion on stage, she got heckled and immediately walked off the stage.
Now, does that sound like somebody whose good at addressing the audience, no. I guess over the years Margaret has gotten better talking to the crowds. I remember watching Margaret at the Outlaugh Festival in 2006 and she was going off on a tangent in between camera takes and she was really funny. Who knew its just a matter of playing to whatevers on your mind and letting it rip.
For me, Margaret's strength has always been writing and telling scripted jokes, meaning shes always has a game plan before she goes up on stage.
Lately I've been lazy too. I use to sit down in a nice cafe somewhere to hash out my ideas, these days I'll go to an open mic and just riff off the crowd.
Lately theres been a nice group of Asians thats been coming into the late night Dirty Trix open mic, *formerly the Holy City Zoo* , and I always have fun with them. So I guess in a way they've been helping me find my comfort on the stage too.