Wong’s latest step to stardom pairs her with Tiffany Haddish for the animated comedy ‘Tuca and Bertie.’
Ever since her first Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra in 2016, Ali Wong‘s brand of raunchy, smartly acerbic comedy has skyrocketed her to well-deserved stardom. Partway through the show, there’s a wonderful bit in which Wong jokingly complains about how the newfound rise of aspirational, #girlboss and Lean In-touting feminism has shifted our cultural expectations of female competence:
“I don’t wanna ‘lean in,’ okay? I wanna lie down. I want to lie the fuck down! I think feminism is the worst thing that’s ever happened to women,” she declares. “Our job used to be no job! We had it so good. We could have done the smart thing, which would have been to continue playing dumb for the next century […] And then all these women had to show off and be like, ‘We could do it! We could do anything.’ Bitch, shut up! Don’t tell them the secret.”
Two years later, those lines now seem deliciously ironic, as Wong seems to have mastered that aforementioned secret after all. She’s set to become a co-leading voice actor and executive producer alongside Tiffany Haddish in Tuca and Bertie, a Netflix animated comedy from BoJack Horseman producer and production designer Lisa Hanawalt. The show will reportedly follow the friendship between two 30-year-old bird women who live in the same apartment building: Haddish’s Tuca, “a cocky, care-free toucan,” and Wong’s Bertie, “an anxious, daydreaming songbird.”
Tuca and Bertie is only one of numerous projects on Wong’s slate. Her second special, Hard Knock Wife — which, like Baby Cobra, she performed while pregnant, this time with her second child — will premiere on Netflix this week (also like Baby Cobra, on Mother’s Day). In the meantime, she’s still performing regularly at Los Angeles comedy clubs, has remained a regular on the ABC sitcom American Housewife, and is penning a book of essays due out later this year.
She’ll also be starring in an as-yet untitled Netflix romantic comedy alongside Randall Park (star of ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat, which Wong previously wrote for) that will also be the feature directorial debut of Nahnatchka Khan (showrunner of Fresh Off the Boat). The film, which Wong and Park have reportedly been talking about for years and has been described as “our version of When Harry Met Sally,” centers on two childhood sweethearts who suddenly run into each other and end up reconnecting as adults after not speaking for 15 years. Wong will play Sasha, a celebrity chef opening a restaurant in San Francisco, opposite Park’s Marcus, a “happily struggling” musician still living at home and working for his father. Both will be teaming on the script with playwright and screenwriter Michael Golamco.
Wong’s ascent suggests that audiences are still hungry for viciously honest women’s voices — especially in the world of stand-up comedy, when unapologetically dirty humor about sex and the utter grossness of the human body has long been considered the province of men. Until Baby Cobra, audiences would have been hard-pressed to find any comic (let alone a visibly pregnant Asian-American woman) willing to speak about parenthood in such a visceral and shameless way, from openly joking about a miscarriage to detailing the pains of having to scratch one’s vagina under a conference room table at work thanks to progesterone suppositories.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Wong herself suggests that her raunchiest material might actually be about childbirth. “Giving birth is hard core,” she says. “Sex is not dirty. A C-section is dirty.” In any case, we’re ready for Wong’s performances to keep redefining audiences’ idea of what it means to be hardcore.