#JFL42 Coverage On... Ali Wong
BY ANGELA FENG
If you’ve ever seen that one photo of Lucy Liu wearing that tank top that says “babe,” then you understand how it feels to watch Ali Wong live as an Asian-Canadian woman. In 2016, she shook up the world with her brilliant stand-up special Baby Cobra, a blessed respite from the many self-loathing, atheist, nerdy cool-boys who too-often get recognition in the comedy world.
At JFL42, Wong performed material from her soon-to-be-released second special. Unlike many other comics, Wong doesn’t make fun of herself. Yes, she sees the humor and absurdity that fills the world around her, but she’s bold, confident and unapologetic throughout, challenging every assumption that you might make about an Asian-American woman. She has sex. She queefs. She makes more money than her husband.
Underlying the jokes about breastfeeding, fame, prenups and pussies are her strength and cleverness. Motherhood is hard, and Wong delves into this with understanding and rambunctious grace, commenting on the double standard that exists between mothers and fathers, and especially the toll childbirth takes on a woman’s body. In the media, we rarely hear anything about mom bods, and Ali Wong isn’t afraid to rectify that. From labias and c-sections to elongated nipples, she’s not just making jokes, she’s creating a space for people to laugh with her rather than at her. She’s come a long way from selling tickets on Groupon, but she hasn’t changed much. She’s still just talking about her life, but with a unique perspective and sharpness that makes her a delight to watch. Ali Wong is living that Whole-Foods-sliced-mango life, and the not-so-simple hoe deserves it.
BY KATHLEEN CHEN
Our culture is still grossed out by women’s bodies. People are uncomfortable talking about what women’s bodies go through during periods, or childbirth, but are completely comfortable with—and accustomed to—viewing women’s bodies as sex objects. Our bodies are considered disgusting when they’re just doing their biological job.
Ali Wong doesn’t dilute the weirdness of women’s bodies. She portrays her afterbirth as her baby girl’s house exiting, along with her Bob Marley poster and the leftover food in her fridge that she forgot to throw out. She describes how, after 72 hours in labour, her friend’s vagina looked like two dicks, which she had to pinch together to hold in a queef. Part of what makes these stories effective, apart from the outrageous and original visual imagery, is the fact that we’re not used to hearing them. It’s new even for Ali Wong, and part of the joke is her shock at discovering what actually happens to her body after giving birth.
Ali Wong never calls our bodies gross. The graphic imagery is part of the joke, but because Wong’s the one telling the story in such an open and unapologetic manner, she allows women to reclaim ownership of these experiences—which are gross, painful and uncomfortable because they are physically so for women, and not just because they’re unpleasant for men to think about.
Most people are unused to hearing stories like this, but comedy allows Ali Wong to examine topics we wouldn’t normally talk about. She is capable of making an entire audience laugh hysterically about queefing and C-sections when in our regular lives, it’s still taboo to talk about periods.