Ali Wong is definitely an exceptional person and a standup comedian who stands out from the rest. Netflix did all of us a massive favor by bringing in three comedy specials by Wong: Baby Cobra, Hard Knock Wife and Don Wong, which all refer to different periods of her life. Regardless of her different time frames, she has definitely captured the common elements of her reality through observational humor and a perfect amount of comedy.
Ali Wong’s specials are unique. It’s rare to see an Asian woman (much less a mother) receive success and acclaim in stand-up, but it’s not just her demographics which count. In fact, she has incorporated so many ideas that it makes it easy for every single one of us, regardless of age, ethnicity, or gender, to actually relate to what she is delivering. From relatability to vulnerability and her calming comic relief, here’s why Ali Wong’s three comedy specials are the ideal pick-me-up right now.
Ali Wong Has a “Strategic Mind”
The New York Times calls Ali Wong’s mind a “strategic” one. It’s definitely true, given how she delivers her comedy specials. All three specials fit a perfect chronology which correlate with her development as a human being. Starting as a new soon-to-become mother, Wong might not have been quite famous when she performed Baby Cobra. However, that did not prevent her from being very real (and also political) about gender roles. This particular special focuses on what it’s like to be a woman in comedy. Of course, she does not fail to highlight how she is a rare comedian, as you do not often find a pregnant comedian on-stage, being honest about a lot of things.
From Baby Cobra she went to performing Hard Knock Wife which, of course, deals with her life as a working mother / wife. However, she did not forget to mention her newly gained fame and how it is affecting her life. Yet again, what makes this comedy special so, well, special is how it is connected to Baby Cobra. Of course, a first-timer who hadn’t watched Wong’s first special might still get to enjoy it just the same, but if one were to watch Wong’s second special after Baby Cobra they will be able to see what she is referring to. She’s strategically building the narrative of her life through comedy.
Her most reason special, Don Wong, released in Valentine’s Day 2022 focuses greatly and honestly on marriage life, love, and the fantasies (or perhaps “ideas”) of cheating on one’s partner (s). Wong is definitely not afraid to talk about what it is like to be married for quite some time. However, this does not mean single people cannot relate to this special. She ensures that every single person in the audience (and at home) is a part of this special. Her wording is, again, strategic, because she does not ostracize anyone who embraces being single.
Keeping It Realer Than Real
Ali Wong might be the voice in your head speaking out, because she is clearly very vocal with things that usually are left unsaid. From the urge to cheat on your partner to the desire to just be a stay-at-home mom, these are things that many are afraid to talk about and work through without fear of judgment. Wong discusses her real-life stories (like how her husband’s family made her signed a prenup) in a way which makes her utterly authentic in an age of fake and phony celebrities and influencers. Her style and charisma has transferred well to movies like Always Be My Maybe.
Ali’s life as a carefree college student also makes several appearances. She definitely deconstructs the “Asian nerd” stereotype, and tackles others, like how Asians are supposedly not very sexually active when they are young (something she shatters with her frank discussion of how she slept with two homeless people). Not only that, but Wong also talks about the many “strategies” she used to lock in her partner. She gets vulnerable on stage, something more and more people are flocking to see (in the works of Hannah gadsby and Jerrod Carmichael, for instance). The reality of her themes allows the viewer to feel comfortable and relate to her, which actually creates more space for laughter and self-reflection.
A Feminist Icon That Claims Feminism “Is The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Women?”
Now, in Baby Cobra, Wong might claim that “Feminism is the worst thing that ever happened to women,” because to her, it seems to imply a dismissal and condescension to women who want to be mothers, wives, or even stay-at-home moms; to her, it convinces women that they should and can ‘have it all,’ a high-paying job, the most attractive and sensitive partner in the world, a baby, wealth, and fame.
However, do not let that statement fool you; there is a sly post-feminist subversion going on here. It is undeniable that Ali Wong is one of the most successful stand-up comedians today. She entered Netflix as a newly married and soon-to-be-mother, and all these roles did not stop her from being the successful woman she is today. Not only that; as she states in her specials, she might be a BA graduate from UCLA whilst her husband is a Harvard Business School graduate, but she is the “bread machine” of the family as she continues to succeed in her career.
What makes her a feminist role model is not merely her life story but the way she uses her platform to be vocal about important issues. She is not afraid to call out America’s lack of guaranteed maternity leave. In fact, she goes on to illustrate (very graphically) what it is like to be a mother and the aftermath of giving birth. She also ensures the audience understands the importance of maternity and tackles the idea that leave is all about “bonding with the baby.” “F *** the baby,” Wong jokes, “maternity leave is for new moms to hide and heal their demolished-ass bodies!”
Ali Wong’s comedy specials will make sure the viewer gets the best for their running time. They contain all the ingredients necessary for a fantastic special: a perfect delivery, relatable themes, vulnerability, and the right balance of authenticity and humor; they have everything that is necessary to make the viewer’s day a bit better, and provide the pick-me-up we could all use.
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