Ali Wong

Comedian and writer Ali Wong is quickly becoming a cultural icon. The Vietnamese and Chinese American TV and movie writer has not just gained fame as a stand-up comic, but has also worked as a writer on the show Fresh Off the Boat, which stars Constance Wu and Randall Park. And, as noted by E! News, two of Netflix’s most popular comedy specials, Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife, are Wong’s.

Wong is a rapidly rising star in the comedy world. She has worked hard to gain the career she has, and it doesn’t look like she is stopping any time soon. Her distinctive brand of humor has won over fans with its frankness, as Wong has never been one to shy away from material that some people might consider to be raunchy or even flat-out inappropriate. Just who is this daring comedian who has taken the world of entertainment by storm? Here is the untold truth of Ali Wong.

This is how Ali Wong fell in love with comedy

Ali Wong

Ali Wong has been involved with comedy ever since her college days. She fell in love with the craft after getting involved with a theater group, which she loved. "Then I got a scholarship to study in Vietnam," she told Health. "It was great, but I found that [culturally] they didn’t have a sense of sarcasm, and I missed that. When I returned, I was determined to have a career in comedy." She noted that performing stand-up was a fast way to do that for her, so she began going to open mics at 22 years old.

Wong calls her earliest comedy "disgusting," saying, "I … was single, living in San Francisco, and so horny. There were all these cute hipster men. It was fun. I would just go out with these guys and then talk about them onstage the next day." She went on, "I would talk about their erectile dysfunction and stuff like that. If you can imagine, it was even dirtier than my [material] is now."

Ali Wong has had to battle racial and gender stereotypes in the comedy world

Ali Wong

As an Asian American woman in the comedy industry, Ali Wong has faced a lot of pushback. "All of these people in the industry kept on telling me: ‘You’re likable and you’re cute, or whatever, but the jokes are really dirty and you’d get booked a lot more, and you’d be a lot more appealing if they were clean,’" she told The Guardian. "Maybe people were half-laughing, half-cringing at my jokes. But if you’re successful, people should be too busy laughing to cringe."

Wong kept making dirty jokes, but she still faces criticism from men for talking about women’s issues like childbirth and breastfeeding.

Wong said that she’s tired of being defined by her race and her gender. "Something I always get asked is: ‘What is it like being an Asian American woman in Hollywood?’" she told Elle. "I hate this question almost as much as I hate, ‘What is it like being a female in comedy?’" She explained, "Nobody wants his or her identity and defining characteristics reduced to just race and gender, and I resent that white men never get asked, ‘What is it like being a white man in movies?’"

Before comedy, Ali Wong wanted this for a career

Ali Wong

While Ali Wong discovered her passion for comedy at a pretty young age, it wasn’t the first career path she had in mind for herself. Wong initially planned to pursue a career in a very different field: academia. "It’s interesting," she told The Cut. "I was an Asian-American studies major in college. For a long time, I thought I would go into academia and become an Asian-American professor, and then I fell in love with stand-up comedy."

She eventually abandoned the idea of becoming a professor. Wong has still managed to put her education to good use in her act, though. "I never set out to specifically speak about representation though — it’s so hard to even just make a joke. I do whatever is first and foremost funny and interesting," she said. "Sometimes that happens to concern Asian-American identity, but not a lot of it. But it is something I will always be interested in."

Ali Wong’s husband gets veto privilege on her stand-up routines

Ali Wong and her husband

Ali Wong has never been afraid to get brutally honest in her comedy routine. Her no-holds-barred brand of comedy is often quite personal. Wong is careful, however, not to say anything that might damage her marriage. "I’ll let my husband veto stuff," she told Health. "It’s not so much about subject choice; it’s about word choice. So no topic is off-limits — it just depends on if I can make it funny. I would love to talk about politics, but I’ve never been able to craft my thoughts into jokes rather than just share anger."

Wong’s marriage is more important to her than her career, which is why she lets her husband have so much input. "A hilarious joke that performs well in front of strangers but that my husband hates is not worth getting divorced over," she explained to The Guardian. "My marriage is much more valuable than a great joke."

Ali Wong says juggling her career and motherhood takes a lot of help

Ali Wong

Ali Wong makes having a successful comedy career while raising a family look easy, but she wants people to know that it’s anything but. Wong makes no secret of the fact that she gets a lot of help to manage everything that’s on her plate. In 2019, she told Health that she’s open and honest about the help it takes to balance her career and her home life "because it’s so unfair."

She added, "Especially when some of these moms look so hot. J.Lo had twins; she’s 50 now, what the f***?! It’s like, ‘B****, spill the beans! Tell us the secret or let us know it’s not possible without resources.’"

Wong said that her girlfriends help her stay grounded. "They are real people who are working 60-hour weeks — they are public defenders, doctors, graphic designers," she said. "You get the picture. They work their a**es off. So I want to be honest about how I am able to do everything I do."

Ali Wong’s husband and kids go on tour with her

Ali Wong

Going on tour can be a lonely experience, but Ali Wong doesn’t do it alone. She brings her husband and their kids along for the ride. Having her family with her can be hectic, but it seems that Wong enjoys it.

"There’s a lot of activity," she told Rolling Stone when asked what it is like to go on tour with her family. "Leaving our Airbnb this morning, it was a whole rush. We had to strip the beds and take out the garbage and s***, because I didn’t want to get a bad review!" She continued, "And then we got a late start on the road because my mom wanted to go to this really yummy Vietnamese enclave in San Diego, so we went and picked up all these egg rolls. She literally bought 100. She had called beforehand to ask if they were going to have enough for her. Our whole minivan smelled like wonderful grease and pork. So, yeah, there’s a lot happening."

You can find Ali Wong eating these foods

Ali Wong

Ali Wong may tell the occasional dirty joke on stage, but she is all about clean eating. "When I met my husband, he was a vegan," she told Health. "Because I liked him so much and wanted to trap him, I learned to cook vegan. It forced me to become really inventive with my cooking. Now, in our house, we eat a ton of vegetables — we’re big fans of leafy greens."

While Wong and her formerly vegan husband enjoy eating their veggies, they enjoy a wide range of other foods, some of which aren’t exactly common menu items in America. "One of my favorite things to eat with my husband, because he’s half-Filipino and I’m Vietnamese, is pigs feet," Wong told W magazine. "We specifically like the hoof. When I go to a restaurant, I say in Vietnamese, ‘I want the hoof only, I don’t want these other parts of the foot that get closer to the ankle.’"

Ali Wong was very close to her family growing up

Ali Wong

Family is very important to Ali Wong. She told NPR that her mother was a Vietnamese immigrant, while her father was the son of a Chinese immigrant. "I grew up just in a very interesting family that was very interested in art," said the comedian. "We would always — they would take me constantly to the Asian American Film Festival. Every time there was a new Wong Kar-wai film, they would take me to see it. And it, you know, made a huge difference in my confidence because, you know, now there’s all this conversation about how representation matters, and people talk about how they never saw themselves on screen."

In an interview with Time, Wong discussed the impact her parents had on her own parenting style. "I came from this really atypical Asian-American family," she said. "My parents were not focused on academics. If I got a bad grade, they weren’t that upset." She noted, "In terms of sex, my parents were always really open. So I’ll probably do the same thing."

The book Ali Wong wrote for her daughters is inspired by someone special

Ali Wong

Ali Wong’s book, Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets and Advice for Living Your Best Life, was published in 2019 and was inspired by her late father. "There were a lot of knocks on my door to write a book, and I didn’t have an idea really until I thought about writing letters to my daughters," she told NPR. "That’s very much inspired by a letter that my father wrote to me before he passed away … And it’s one of the few things that if my house was on fire, if there was an apocalypse, I would take with me…" She continued, "I just wish that he had written a lot more because I have so many more questions for him that it’s too late to ask."

Wong’s husband also played an instrumental part in the book, providing the afterword in the form of another letter. "For my book I thought it would be nice because he never gets to say anything," Wong told Time. "He never gets to clap back at me. … he’s obviously a very important contributor to everything that I have now."

Ali Wong is a huge fan of this Netflix star

Ali Wong

Ali Wong is a massive fan of organization expert Marie Kondo, known for her books and her Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Wong doesn’t just follow Kondo’s method, though — she also named one of her kids after the influential figure, at least in part. "It’s much inspired by Marie Kondo, but not because I want her to be Marie Kondo," Wong told The Cut. "When we were choosing names, my husband and I had a huge list. … it got down to three names. Mari was one of the three we could agree on. She is a Mari."

Wong added that Kondo’s book completely changed her life, especially when it comes to footwear. "I will never wear a boot with a hole again that requires six steps," she said, adding, "I touched shoes that literally sparked memories of pain. They ruined my evening. I’ve learned now to value my experience more than how I look."

Ali Wong thinks couple’s therapy is important

Ali Wong

While Ali Wong and her husband have a strong relationship, Wong is open about the fact that their successful marriage, along with everything else in her life, is the result of hard work. Wong is frank about how going to therapy has strengthened their relationship, and she said that she believes all couples could benefit from speaking to a mental health professional.

"I live in Los Angeles where everyone is in some kind of therapy," Wong told Time. "You know how online dating used to be all taboo and shameful? Now tons of people have met online. And now I feel like everyone’s in therapy. I don’t see how for us we could not go to couple’s therapy within the first two, three years of having kids. For us it’s been really important, and for other people, if you don’t go to couple’s therapy I hope you have great communication skills. You never know what’s going on in other people’s relationships."

Joking about her miscarriage helped Ali Wong heal

Ali Wong

One of the controversial topics that Ali Wong jokes about in her comedy is miscarriage, a topic that many people still consider taboo. For Wong, though, very few things are off limits. Wong wasn’t only unafraid to discuss her miscarriage, but she also worked it into a comedy routine. She told The Guardian that talking about her miscarriage and connecting with others who had experienced the same kind of loss helped her get through it.

"It’s one thing to hear the statistics but it’s another to put faces to the numbers so you stop feeling like it’s your fault," she said. "I think that’s one of the reasons women don’t tell people when they’ve had a miscarriage — they think it’s their fault." She explained, "I remember I worried what my in-laws would think, which is so crazy. I thought they’d think their son had married a terrible person. Also, because I made the mistake of telling people as soon as I got pregnant, I then had to tell them the bad news and then I felt like I was burdening them. So being able to joke about it was such a relief."

Ali Wong’s movie Always Be My Maybe was a win for Asian American representation

Ali Wong and Randall Park

Ali Wong has branched away from stand-up to show off her acting skills. According to IMDb, she has several acting roles under her belt, including a recurring role on American Housewife and the lead in the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe, which she also co-wrote. The movie — one of the best romcoms of the past decade — was considered a win for Asian American representation as it included two Asian American leads, something rare for a romantic comedy.

The film also pushed back against Asian American stereotypes, such as the trope of the overbearing Asian parent. The male lead’s father is instead a laid-back character. "You haven’t seen that kind of Asian dad before," Wong told Glamour. "My dad was born in the United States. He didn’t have any accent, he was very progressive, and he journaled. He’s really into self-reflection. I know a lot of dads like that, and I have always felt like it’s a shame that they weren’t on camera." She went on, "This is not the Asian American rom-com. This is an Asian American rom com. That’s an Asian American dad. That’s an Asian American guy I haven’t seen before. And that’s very exciting to me."

Ali Wong’s sense of style is centered on comfort

Ali Wong

Some celebs may like the glitz and glamour that comes with being in the public eye, but Ali Wong much prefers wearing comfortable clothes to getting all dressed up. "I have to wear things that are comfortable and not too formfitting," she told The Cut. "If I’m suffocating and experiencing any sort of pressure in an outfit, it shows on my face and that is not cute. What’s the use of wearing a sexy, tight-a** dress and stilettos if your expression reads ‘hostage?’"

Wong said that she initially had a difficult time deciding how to dress while doing her stand-up routine. "When I got on stage, I felt like people were so distracted that I was a woman, and I tried to strip that away," she said. "Then I… realized that as long as I was funny, it didn’t really matter. So as I got better at stand-up and grew up in my 20s, I let my hair down, literally and figuratively, and it felt great."

Ali Wong hates being famous

Ali Wong

Some people might embark on a career in the performing arts in the hopes of one day becoming famous. For Ali Wong, however, becoming famous was just a result of pursuing her passion. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Wong said that she doesn’t really enjoy fame.

"You know how Bruce Lee said there would always be men trying to fight him all the time?" she said. "There’s this thing where people, men especially, try to prove they’re super-funny. Like someone’s cousin at a wedding who just starts to behave hella extra. That energy is a little strange. But the weirdest thing is when I come out of a bathroom stall at a restaurant now, someone will be waiting with a camera, standing there with their phone, smiling, and I haven’t washed my hands yet. And they’ll want to shake, hug me, whatever, when I’ve obviously just been expelling excrement out of my body. They don’t give a f***."