Review: Ali Wong, “Hard Knock Wife”

I’ve noticed a trend among my favorite stand-up comedians — they have two, maybe even three crackerjack, sidesplitting specials, then they drop the ball on the junior or senior effort.

Maybe they run out of things to say, or start rehashing old material.  I don’t blame them; you have to be a freaking genius to innovate and knock it out of the park every time.

By that standard, though, Ali Wong could stop now and go out on an incredibly high note, because “Hard Knock Wife,” out on Netflix, is just as bonkers dirty-hilarious as “Baby Cobra.”  And even if she still has jokes left to tell, she’ll only get more famous, and to hear her tell it, she hates being famous.  And who can blame her?  She can no longer drive a hard bargain with broke college students when buying second-hand goods on Craigslist.  Race-shaming them for assuming all Asians look alike when they recognize her won’t work forever.

Also, having done two specials in a row with a massive baby bump on her belly, she basically has to be pregnant every time she does a special.  Once is a fluke; twice is a tradition.  She may get baby-fatigue.  Besides, she and her husband don’t even have sex anymore — “We just masturbate in bed next to each other, fantasizing about Puerto Rican people.”

(By the way, when I told my friend I thought it was Groundhog Day when I saw Wong was pregnant for two specials in a row, my friend speculated that she might be wearing a fake baby-bump just to be funny.  Mind.  Blown.  Contrasted with “Baby Cobra,” she doesn’t talk about her current pregnancy at all in “Hard Knock Wife.”)

There are an insane number of laugh-out-loud, raunchy one-liners in Wong’s new one-hour special, but my favorite one is when she describes the real reason women need maternity leave:

“It’s not so they can bond with the baby.  Fuck the baby!  It’s so they can hide and heal their demolished-ass bodies!”

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the rude, unforgiveable genius of a recently-delivered and soon-to-deliver-again mother blurting “Fuck the baby!”  I’m glad we live in that kind of world.

Maybe the thesis statement of Wong’s special, which applies as much to “Baby Cobra” as this one (as well as Christina P’s equally hilarious “Mother Inferior” special), is her response to people who wonder if she will tone down her dirty act now that she is a mother:

“Having a baby doesn’t mean you grew up.  Bro-y dudes become bro-y dads.  I’m basically the same piece of shit I was before I had the baby, just with a little more responsibility … and I am barely rising to the occasion.”

Sandwich that in between discussions of her sordid sexual past, gross-out body humor that before revolved around buttholes and “doo-doo” but now includes post-partum vaginal efusion, and an uncensored breakdown of what it’s like to be Asian American and not-at-all dainty, and you have Ali Wong in a nutshell.

She gives an update on her first special’s theme about how she tried to “trap” her Harvard-educated husband so she could become a housewife and not work anymore … only to find out he was $70,000 in debt and she had to bail him out with her TV money and realizing he trapped her.  Well, to hear Wong tell it, the relationship came full circle.  Since “Baby Cobra” became a hit, Wong’s income has ballooned way larger than her husband’s.  (“It wasn’t supposed to be this way!  He graduated from Harvard Business School.  I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Asian Studies.  That’s not a degree that’s supposed to produce income.  You just learn how to blame everything on white people!”)  And what goes around comes around … in light of his august education, Wong’s in-laws apparently made their son’s bride sign a pre-nuptial agreemend.  “So if we ever get a divorce,” Wong concludes to riotous applause, “their son is fucked.”

On second thought, I hope she does do another special.  She doesn’t even have to be pregnant.

What did you think of Ali Wong’s new special “Hard Knock Wife” on Netflix?


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