To create a milestone in comedy, in the 2010s, seems impossible. What could possibly be left to do in stand-up that hasn’t been done before? Throughout the 60s, too many were performing while high on LSD. Lenny Bruce improvised long sets. Pryor stabbed a heckler with a fork. Louis CK called his daughter an asshole. However in 2016, one comedian proved there is still much unexplored territory, and she did this by filming an hour special, Baby Cobra, while 7 months pregnant. She even waited 38 minutes into the set to even address it despite wearing a zebra striped, skin tight mini dress. Ali Wong has taken the game to a whole new level.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Wong is the youngest of four kids. Her mother is Vietnamese and her father was Chinese. She attended college at UCLA majoring in Asian American Studies. While in school, she joined a comedic theater group. Once she graduated in 2005, she moved back into to mom and dad’s. Feeling the longing for the stage, the first open mic she tried was at the Brainwash Cafe. Soon after, she continued to hit mics almost every night. Her parents supported her and went to shows. Picking up the momentum, the comic decided to relocate to New York City.
Through all of this, she remained in contact with an old friend, Randall Park. As his career excelled as an actor, he kept Wong in mind. When he landed the lead in Fresh Off the Boat, he recommended his good pal for a writing job. She had no experience in this for sitcoms, but her personal life story did not stray very far from the show’s premise. Currently, she thrives in the TV gig and lives in Los Angeles.
Before Baby Cobra, Wong had offers to perform specials, but she felt unready. When she chose to reproduce, she realized it would be now or never. Most female comics quit after having babies because women generally provide a lot early on in development such as breastfeeding and bonding. It should be noted both Lucille Ball and Joan Rivers had performances late into their pregnancies, but neither did a televised hour long event on their feet. Also, during their expecting tenures, pregnancy was considered a bad word.
Originally, the jokes were about being single and adult sucking, but lately, the bits are about a infant sucking from her breasts. In addition to the quips post-pregnancy, she shares the pre-pregnancy struggles, hugely, her miscarriage. While it sounds dark, she keeps it real, “My mom, she’s from a Third World country, and when I told her I had one she was, like, ‘Uh, yeah, where I’m from that’s like losing a pair of shoes.’” Through such humor, Ali Wong discovered a fresh idea. She found a relatable, yet silenced topic. She is changing the playing field not only for comics’ material, but also, for what audiences want and maybe need to hear.