The Jester’s Privilege~ Ali Wong: Don Wong
This is going to hurt me.
I’m going to say all of this first: Ali Wong is almost without a doubt one of the most prolific and famous comedians in the game today. Her humor is iconic, her talent is evident, and her credentials are readily available, not to mention Baby Cobra is one of my all-time favorite Netflix specials. Not only is she a celebrated, boundary breaking, pace-setting comic, she deserves to have her flowers in every regard. Her timeless, unabashed sense of humor is something I can never take away, and something I don’t want to take away.
…that being said…
…I did not like Don Wong.
I’m so apologetic about this take for multiple reasons. I really wanted to like it. Her first two specials are classics, and she has done nothing but great work since with Always Be My Maybe and Big Mouth. I had no reason to think this was going to be any different.
But when the first damn near 10 minutes of the top of your set is just making obscene gestures and dick jokes, my expression is similar to when I see a new M. Night Shyamalan movie coming soon: equal parts disappointment and terror. The obscene nature of her comedy alone does not deter me: Wong is hardly a stranger to a dirty joke (her story on having period sex from Hard Knock Wife is absolutely unhinged and utterly hilarious), but the whole “sucking dick is hard work, cherish it” bit is somewhat passé.
Another reason for my tip-toeing around an actual critique here is that it didn’t seem overly lazy. Something you see depressingly often is tenured comedians getting a lot of mainstream fame, stepping away from the stand-up scene for a while, and then returning on tour with D-tier jokes about their money and fame in exchange for an easy check and ego boost. Now, Wong and this special don’t fall into this same “tenured comedian” status like Jerry Seinfeld or Ellen DeGeneres (and I mean that as a compliment). But does that mean she isn’t on the road to that fate? There were moments of braggadocio sprinkled in, which is not off-brand for Wong, but with a little less originality as before. The topics felt redundant, and while there was seemingly an attempt to make it fresh, the jokes simply did not land.
The laughs were sporadic, and the bits were a tad worn out. I have friends that liked it, and I don’t question their taste because of it. I’d mark it down as nostalgia, or perhaps the lingering luster of her already impressive work. But for me, I couldn’t shake my disappointment.