When Baby Cobra, Ali Wong’s first stand-up special on Netflix, premiered three years ago, it cut through a lot of the noise on the crowded streaming service. It was something different and quietly revolutionary: a tiny Asian woman telling raunchy bits while nearly eight months pregnant. It’s not a sight you typically see on the comedy circuit.
But it wasn’t the fact that Wong was pregnant and twerking onstage that made Baby Cobra resonate so loudly with audiences. Her material was wholly original, chronicling very particular Asian traits but also veering in unexpected directions. She owned her sexuality and presented it, unfiltered, as comedy fodder, like the way she described meeting her husband: “I knew that he was a catch, so I was, like, ‘All right, Ali, you gotta make this dude believe that your body is a secret garden.’” She pauses. “When really, it’s a public park that has hosted many reggae fests, and has even accidentally let … (counts in her hand) … two homeless people inside.” She finishes the joke with, “I thought they were hipsters!”
Like Adele, who puts out albums titled after milestone ages, Wong puts out Netflix specials to commemorate her children in utero. Her second special, Hard Knock Wife, released last year, was filmed while she was pregnant with her second daughter. This time, her focus has turned to the vicissitudes of motherhood and what women go through during and after childbirth. And Wong doesn’t sugarcoat the primal nature of it all.
In the three scant years since she broke into the public consciousness, Wong’s life has been nonstop. She writes for the ABC sitcom Fresh Off the Boat and recently wrote and starred in the well-received rom-com Always Be My Maybe and continues her stand-up tour (now with family in tow). Oh, and she’s written Dear Girls, a memoir/advice book dedicated to her daughters about her life thus far—the good, the bad and the raunchy. “I’m a little nervous about the ugly parts I revealed. My daughters will probably use it against me when they rebel in their teenage years,” Wong tells the Weekly by email. “But it’s too late to take back now. The book comes out in October!”
If Wong’s schedule seems insane for the rest of us underachieving mortals, she keeps it all in check with a dose of reality. “I spend most of my free time hanging out with my girlfriends and their kids,” she says. “They are the same seven girls I met at UCLA, and they have zero to do with the entertainment industry. They are public defenders, event organizers, doctors, lawyers and pharmacists. I would probably be insane if I didn’t have them in my life. We love going to the beach and eating and laughing together while our toddlers build sand castles and ask us for snacks.”
Seems innocuous now, but just wait until the next Netflix special comes out.
ALI WONG August 31- September 1, 7:30 & 10 p.m., $72-$137. Encore Theater, 702-770-7171.