There are two kinds of comics: those who use comedy as a mask and those who use comedy to get naked in front of people. The latter are much rarer and much more valuable.
Margaret Cho's response to losing her sitcom, All-American Girl -- after network execs told her she was too fat and "not Asian enough" -- was to spend a lot of time doing drugs, drinking and having a lot of promiscuous sex.
Out of this came her recovery show, I'm The One That I Want, which was pretty much as naked as any comic this side of Richard Pryor has ever got in public. Well, there's Julia Sweeney's moving but not actually funny God Said, "Ha!"
Her latest concert "film," Notorious C.H.O, isn't quite on the level of I'm The One That I Want, but unless she decides to re-descend into the hell of too much fun, that'd be almost impossible to achieve.
It is, on the other hand, out-there hilarious, kicking off with a joke that so thoroughly deflates post-9/11 sanctimony that it will be difficult ever again to hear a celebrity talk about the rescue workers.
I put "film" in quotes because this is a shot-on-video monstrosity and looks as if Cho gave some 12-year-old cousins handicams and told them to stand near the stage. It does not look good.
That's only a small drawback, though, because Cho is hilarious and outrageous on subjects like her search for her G-spot, her first time at an S/M club -- "I don't know if I'm a bottom because it turns me on or because I'm lazy" -- and, of course, her Korean immigrant mother, a never-ending source of comedy.
Anyone who hasn't seen it should immediately rent I'm The One That I Want just to hear Cho doing her mother opening cartons of porno in the family-run bookshop in San Francisco.
Highly recommended, though not for the faint of heart. Cho's material has something to offend everybody.
NOTORIOUS C.H.O. directed by Lorene Machado, written by and starring Margaret Cho, produced by Cho and Karen Taussig. 95 minutes. A Vagrant Films release. Opens Friday (July 5). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 77. Rating: NNNN