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Culture & Entertainment

Why Ali Wong Is a Name You Need to Know

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You may recognize Ali Wong for a few things: her bold glasses frames, printed dresses turned popular niche Halloween costumes, and her biting sense of humor that will have you doubled over on your couch at home. The actress-comedian may not be a household name just yet, but she’s on a fast-track to continued to success across every medium.

Why Ali Wong Is A Name You Need To Know:

The 37-year-old comedian caused a bidding war between Netflix and HBO for her newest comedy specials, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. The secured deal means, we’ll have a third comedy special on the streaming platform no doubt full of her riotous humor and a second whose release date is still to be determined. This moment has been over a decade in the making for Wong, whose start in comedy didn’t come until after she finished school.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Wong went through the traditional motions of life, navigating her formative years up and down the cost of California after enrolling at UCLA for college to study Asian American Studies. It was there that she dabbled in the arts, becoming a member of UCLA’s LCC Theatre Company. At age 23, fresh out of college, Wong dabbled in stand-up at the now permanently closed BrainWash café and laundromat on Folsom Street in San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, she made the move many comedians make, swapping coasts for New York City to pursue comedy as her full-time career.

Wong hustled, performing multiple times a night to perfect her material. She started on the circuit, adding appearances on “The Tonight Show, “John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show,” and “Comedy Underground” to her usual nightly rounds. Tacking onto her budding career as a comedian, Wong landed roles as a series regular on the single season of Chelsea Handler’s NBC show “Are You There, Chelsea?” and made regular appearances on her nightly talk show, “Chelsea Lately.” Years later, Wong made her return to television on VH1’s “Best Week Ever” and “Hey Girl” on MTV. She put in some time behind the scenes, serving as a long term writer for the ABC sitcom “Fresh off the Boat.”

The spotlight landed on Wong alone in her Netflix comedy debut on Mother’s Day in 2016 when her stand-up special “Baby Cobra” hit the streaming service. Eight months pregnant with her first child, Wong donned what she told InStyle was an $8 striped dress from H&M and tackled sexism, feminism, and sex (lots of it, at that).

Why “Baby Cobra?” The comedian told The Guardian that it was partially because it’s her favorite yoga pose and partially because it’s her daughter, as well. There were people who told her that her career would be killed as soon as her baby was born, but instead, having her first baby–in utero, nonetheless–helped her kill on stage instead.

Her second comedy special, “Hard Knock Wife,” hit Netflix on May 13t, 2018, filmed while Wong was seven months pregnant with her second kid. “Baby cobra” wasn’t slowing her career down any. She continued with her raunchy routine, continuing to discuss her second pregnancy, post-birth woes (including, but not limited to the role of a “lactation consultant”), and what it’s like to be both a comic who is a mom.

As if that wasn’t enough Netflix action for the mother-of-two and comedian on the up-and-up, Wong starred alongside Randall Park (also from “Fresh Off The Boat”) in the 2019 movie they co-wrote together, “Always Be My Maybe.” She also voiced the titular role in an animated show on the streaming service behemoth, “Tuca & Bertie.”

Wong’s debut book and ode to her daughters, “Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life” released on October 15 and is available in bookstores everywhere and for her daughter’s when they are older to serve as their “guide.”

Despite being relatively unknown before her foray onto the streaming service circuit, Wong has made quite an impact in a short period of time. Her $8 H&M dress now has a spot at the National Museum of American History alongside Dorothy’s ruby slippers and as a niche Halloween costume for years to come.

Photographer Credit:  Kate Berry

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