A few days ago I wrote “[n]ot to suggest that improv is ‘fluff’ – as with all forms of comedy it can reveal inner truths in a less-confrontational way” about Whose Line Is It Anyway? And it’s true that many forms of comedy use humour to ‘take the edge off’ anger talking about important issues. Sometimes that works- helps us as we grow and learn. But there are times when that doesn’t work, or doesn’t work fast enough, or widely enough. Sometimes anger is helpful. Not ‘unleashed’ so much as ‘on a very, very long leash’ – a certain amount of control still retained. 1980s aids activism comes to mind- “not ‘gay’ as in ‘happy’ but ‘queer’ as in ‘f*ck you’.”
Photograph © 2004 Brian Gryphon
Perhaps the best current example of this, is the work of Margaret Cho. I have variously described her as “my ‘say-too-much’ hero” and my “don’t go there? hero” – both being references from her stand-up. She described her predilection for speaking her truth as essential- ‘if I don’t go there, it’s like I was never there (I paraphrase). She’s also an incredible role model for those of us who want to channel our anger- turning it from a punishing force into progress. Her work around #beRobin (honouring the late Robin Williams by carrying on his unpublicized work with homeless folk) is just one example.
In this interview published last week as part of publicity for her latest tour she talks about using anger to heal. And there’s plenty for her (and all of us) to be angry about- she specifically mentions “police brutality to racism to the rising tide of violence against women,” The last referring to direct physical attacks as well as other engagements in the war on women. Note I don’t use quotes around that phrase. This war is being fought by elected officials with the support of other misogynists; see recent troll activity on Margaret’s twitter feed. The proximate cause (that is, the stated excuse) is her support of Planned Parenthood. But I have no doubt that sexism, racism and general ‘tight ass whitey’ fear-mongering play their parts.
If you are able to catch her current tour live do so. There really is a big difference between being in the audience of her live show, and watching it later. Of course, I also recommend watching all her previous shows. You can support Margaret as well as educate and entertain yourself by purchasing DVDs and CDs of her tours, specials and movies, and her book.
Slut: Throwing Shade
See this youTube video posted today, by Matt Baume: Milk: Turning Anger into Action