Ali Wong, an Asian-American, female comedian, makes her audiences laugh with ease due to the topics of her jokes. While there are plenty of specific stories in her stand-ups, lots of her jokes are about aging, marriage, and pregnancy. Those topics are very relatable to most, especially women. They are all just facets of life that most women go through. However, Wong makes it funny because she sometimes crosses a line with her jokes that the regular woman won’t cross, despite sharing the same ideas.
Probably the most relatable topic in all of comedy, aging, connects with every single viewer. Wong decides to spend most of her focus on the negative aspects of being an aging woman in her 2016 special, Baby Cobra. She specifically talks about slowing metabolism, insomnia, deep regret, hatred for family, and HPV. Obviously, talking about these aspects of aging does not seem very funny. That’s where Wong’s talent shines through. She makes these dark, unfortunate topics somehow very amusing.
As the video shows, Wong vents about her concerns, as well as her viewers’, about how getting older, frankly, just sucks. Like most comedians, she makes her ideas entertaining by weaving them into a short story. In this story, Wong makes the dark parts of aging comical by telling 18-year old girls, “Fuck you!” This profane remark is out of jealousy towards 18-year olds. She’s jealous because 18-year olds not only have all sorts of potential, but also are thus far unaffected by the long list of Wong’s and others’ problems with old age. She makes this line funny by starting with something harmless like slowing metabolism, but then following quickly with a long list of progressively darker and darker topics leading toward hatred for her family. The dark turn makes this joke comical because dark humor has never been more popular, and also the dark humor is relatable to most everyone in some sort of capacity. This relatable darker humor is rare in comedy, despite Wong using it with ease. The final punchline of the joke is an even more sudden dark turn as Wong says the 18-year olds have their whole life ahead of them as they don’t even have HPV yet. It seems very clear that Wong dislikes getting older, but her opinions were a bit different in 2012.
Only four years prior, Wong held very different views about getting older. She yearns to get older and marry someone, so that she can stop caring. Like the 18-year old in the 2016 joke, Wong has no idea of the many struggles she mentions later in her career. However, she does touch on the struggles of having to care and try to remain attractive. Like most females in her situation, she wants to stop having to care so much about her appearance. Again, instead of a specific story, Wong uses broader, more relatable ideas for her joke.
Wong makes this scene amusing by acting out certain aspects of the joke. She motions the struggle of being young and the easiness of being older and married. However, we learn later that Wong did not just let go as she said she would. She clearly crosses a certain threshold after this scene as her young problems such as eating healthy become older problems like insomnia.
In a plethora of scenes, Wong uses marriage as the main focus of her joke. Wong married a man who graduated Harvard Business School, and she talks well of him for the most part in her stand-ups. She also talks about the process of dating, proposing, and marriage as if it is a game. Once again, the topic of her jokes are very relatable to almost every woman. Wong admits that her entire plan was to “trap” her eventual husband because of the appearance of steady income and a good life. The roar of laughter from the crowd shows that many women agree with Wong, but they don’t have the courage to admit it. These type of jokes are where Wong is at her best: crossing a line that people relate with, but don’t want to say themselves.
Wong continues to use her strength by talking about proposals. She points out the unspoken truth that women actually propose to men, not the other way around.
Speaking in heavy sarcasm throughout, Wong tells the story of how her husband “proposed” to her. For example, Wong says she had a feeling he would propose soon… but only after pressuring him to do it. Wong makes the point that all women have to “incept the idea into the man’s head. First passively, then extremely aggressively.” Like the joke about 18-year olds, Wong simply points out the appearance of a situation is not exactly true. Yes, 18-year olds have their whole life ahead of them…to suffer insomnia, annoying families, HPV, etc. Yes, the man proposes to a woman…only after she pressures him. It isn’t a coincidence that she got the exact ring and size that she wanted. Once again, Wong does not back away from mentioning the truth that women expect the proposal even though most girls act shocked when the man kneels with a ring.
Now that the man is officially trapped, Wong has to keep him trapped as other women have to keep their man trapped, despite not mentioning it. She mentions her motherly roles in a few different scenes, once again relatable jobs. She complains how being a good dad takes very little, and that is also takes very little to be considered a bad mom. Most other women probably share this same sentiment, but Wong points out that she’s happy to work hard as a mother to reap the benefits of landing a rich husband.
Wong makes the scene funny because she turns such a simple, sweet activity into something so dark and twisted. Making lunch for your husband seems like a typical and generous thing many other housewives probably also do. However, her ulterior motives, shared by more than a few women, are to make sure he depends on her for something so he remains trapped in the marriage.
As an up and coming comedian, Wong will keep climbing the ranks of the comedic world if she continues to focus on relatable, yet uncomfortable topics or ideas. She has the very unique opportunity of being a female comedian with a child, as many female comedians fade out after becoming pregnant. With the relatable topic of raising a child on the way, Wong has another set of jokes that will make audiences laugh their asses off. If Wong can stay in the stand-up game, she can become a household name by Making Life Funny Again.