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Margaret Cho @ Athenaeum Theatre

★★★★ 

There is no rhyme or reason to the subject matter in Margaret Cho's live show – and her audience would not have that any other way. In the hour Cho spends on stage, she works her way through dozens of anecdotes and rants in rapid-fire succession. What's even more impressive is how it all seems to come straight off the cuff – talking about one thing inevitably triggers a memory, which itself leads to a further tangent and more hysterical shrieks from her adoring audience. One minute it's stealing drugs from the late Anna Nicole Smith – when she was the late Anna Nicole Smith, mind you; going to her house after she had passed – and the next it's a harrowing yet hilarious story of reuniting with the uncle that molested her as a child. While we're at it, let's throw in pissing off Chinese people, rusty vaginas, reclaiming fatness and fucking old rock-stars for good measure. Why not? It's a performance in which she bares all – and those in attendance can testify to that being quite literal, too; as she unzipped her pants to reveal her tattoos and ostensibly moon the crowd to show off her buttocks artwork.
 
As wildly-entertaining as Cho is, and as much as she has every right to carry a show entirely on her own, it would be amiss to not mention Ian Harvie – a late-40s trans-masc comic who opens proceedings for the night and damn well threatens to steal the show. Harvie reveals more and more about himself as his slot progresses, sharing life stories from Maine in America's north-east all the way through to visiting Australia as a part of the Mardi Gras. While many can view warm-up acts as an obstacle between themselves and the headliner, Harvie ended up getting as boisterous a reception as our fearless headliner. Not only was his timing and punchline execution nothing short of exceptional, he also put himself on the line in a big way from a personal standpoint. It's a lot more than can be said for many comedians on the circuit right now, and it warrants praise. Together, Cho and Harvie are an exceptional double-team – they have well and truly made their final night in Australia a memorable one. It's not just shock value and it's not just queer rhetoric – these are comedians that transcend and ascend beyond that.
 
BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG