LOS ANGELES — When Ali Wong’s debut special, “Baby Cobra,” had its premiere on Mother’s Day in 2016, very few people outside of the comedy world knew who Wong was, and there was little reason to think this hour or so of jokes would change that. She had trouble selling out shows, and no one submitted the special for Emmy consideration because what would be the point? And while Netflix had an impressive track record of showcasing stand-up stars, it had never made one — until Ali Wong.
洛杉矶——2016年母亲节，黄阿丽(Ali Wong)的单口喜剧专场处女作《小眼镜蛇》(Baby Cobra)在Netflix上线，那时候喜剧圈之外没几个人知道黄阿丽是谁，也没什么理由认为这一小时左右的段子集会改变这个状况。她的演出不太卖得动，也没人把这个专场节目送去评艾美奖，何必白费功夫呢？Netflix此前作过的单口喜剧节目群星璀璨，不过还从没造出过自己的明星——直到有了黄阿丽。
“Baby Cobra” presented something new, a pregnant woman in her third trimester delivering a deliriously filthy and funny hour of comedy woven into a sneakily feminist assault on the double standards of parenting. Pioneers like Joan Rivers, who had also performed pregnant, and Roseanne Barr paved the way with biting jokes about motherhood and domesticity, but Wong made maternal comedy seem more glamorous, sexual and overtly political.
《小眼镜蛇》呈现了一种新意，一个第三孕期孕妇，说上一个小时粗口横飞的搞笑段子，暗中夹带对育儿中的双重标准发起的女性主义攻击。喜剧前辈如琼·里弗斯(Joan Rivers)挺着肚子表演过，罗珊·巴尔(Roseanne Barr)那些有关当妈持家的辛辣笑话也是在铺路，但黄阿丽把孕产妇笑话讲得更撩人，更多性意味，而且明显政治化。
She alternated jokes about the injustice of how little is expected of fathers with lustful tributes to the sex appeal of Asian men. “They got no body hair from the neck down,” she says in the special. “It’s like making love to a dolphin.”
Much of the special involves raw descriptions of the nitty-gritty of having a baby, whether it’s the workaday sex to try to get pregnant or a pregnant wife’s peculiar resentment of her husband. When he asks her to help with household chores, her response is: “I’m busy making an eyeball, OK? Are you making a foot? I didn’t think so.”
This hit a nerve with an untapped market, becoming the first breakthrough hit special about parenting from the perspective of a woman, paving the way for a spate of mom comedians and earning Wong a new fan base.
“I can’t tell you how many selfies I’ve gotten asked for at the gynecologist and pediatrician office,” she said. “I should sell tickets there.”
In “Hard Knock Wife,” her follow-up special, which Netflix will release once again on Mother’s Day, she performs pregnant again, with her second child. “It’s very much like a sequel to ‘Baby Cobra,'” she told me in her toy-strewn house, not long after giving birth. “When Chappelle asked me if I was doing another one, he said that’s so cool” that each baby had a special.
今年母亲节，Netflix上线了她的第二部单口专场作品《铁娘子》(Hard Knock Wife)，她再次怀着身孕上台，她的第二胎。“这个作品很像是《小眼镜蛇》的续集，”生完第一个孩子不久，她在到处是玩具的家里告诉我。“夏佩尔问我是不是在做另一个节目，”他说每个孩子各有一场秀“实在太酷了”。
But the expectations are different this time, now that she has become the kind of comic who refers to Dave Chappelle as a friendly colleague. With a romantic comedy co-starring Randall Park in the works and a memoir structured as a series of letters to her daughters being published by Random House next year, Wong is about to join the A-list, a club that few women or Asian-American stand-ups are let into. And she’s being very strategic even as she has to deal with child-care and family issues that male superstars in the club don’t have to deal with. It’s a lot to juggle.
不过这一次观众的期望值就不一样了，现在戴夫·夏佩尔(Dave Chappelle)这样的名角在她口中像是个友好的同事。她和蓝道尔·朴(Randall Park)合演的爱情喜剧片正在制作中，明年兰登书屋要出版她的回忆录，全书由她写给女儿的一封封信件构成。黄阿丽眼看就要迈入一线明星行列，这个级别很少有女性或亚裔单口喜剧艺人能挤进去。而且她很有策略，尽管还要带孩子、料理家事——这些都是这个级别的男性超级明星不需要面对的。她要兼顾的事很多。
So perhaps it’s no surprise that anxiety about success is also a theme of her new work. This is part of the reason she returned to the stage early this year, five weeks after giving birth, against the advice of her doctor. She’s terrified of becoming unfunny. “I’ve seen it happen to people who got famous and seduced by it,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s work ethic or if they’re delusional because the audience loves them so much.”
Two months after giving birth, she slipped out of the house and drove to the Upright Citizens Brigade here to make an unannounced appearance, walking onstage in sweatpants and a puffy jacket to roaring applause. She told a new joke about #MeToo and got a laugh, though she wasn’t sure she could trust it. UCB crowds are notoriously generous. Only after experimenting with that joke 25 more times, she said, would she know if it works.
产后两个月，她从家里溜出来，开车去著名喜剧团体正直公民旅(Upright Citizens Brigade)在当地的演出场所，穿着宽松的居家裤和夹克，在热烈的掌声中做了一场临时演出。她说了个有关 #MeToo（我也是）运动的新段子，大家笑了，但她还觉得靠不住。UCB的观众是出了名的好心肠。她说，那个段子她要再试25次才能知道效果如何。
While she comes off as cerebral and soft-spoken offstage, her jaunty stand-up alter ego has the strutting charisma of a rock star. When she was growing up, her favorite comic was Eddie Murphy and, like him, she isn’t afraid to swagger, preen or grab her crotch.
Wong, who majored in Asian-American studies at UCLA and considered a career in academia before trying and falling in love with stand-up after college, held off for nearly a decade before producing a special. Now 36, she has done two late-night television sets but considers them a bad form for her brand of comedy, so she won’t return. Hard to pigeonhole, her comedy begins with a strong, dynamic stage presence and arguments that take some time to build.
At the UCB, she alternated between a forceful declarative voice and a croaking whisper that reminded Hilary Swank, who was in the audience that night, of her “Million Dollar Baby” co-star Clint Eastwood. Wong talked about being a mother. But she bristled when describing a fellow comic who said pregnancy was becoming her trademark. “Pregnancy is not rainbow suspenders,” she said, exasperated.
在UCB，她时而用一种不容争辩的宣言式腔调，时而又变成沙哑的低语，后者让当晚在观众席里的希拉里·斯旺克(Hilary Swank)想起在《百万美元宝贝》(Million Dollar Baby)里和她搭戏的克林特·伊斯特伍德(Clint Eastwood)。黄阿丽说起怎样当妈。但讲到有个喜剧同行说怀孕已经成了她的商标，她怒了。“怀孕又不是彩虹吊裤带，”她气冲冲地说。
After she finished her set to loud applause, Wong drove home, pumped some milk for her baby, went to sleep and woke up at 7 a.m. to breast-feed, while her husband, Justin Hakuta, took care of their 2 1/2-year-old daughter. In her new special, she raises the question of work-life balance and explains her secret. “I have a nanny,” she said. “That’s it.”
It infuriates her that more celebrities do not acknowledge this. “It’s unfair to the hard-core stay-at-home moms to pretend you’re able to have an amazing body by chasing around your kids,” she told me. “I think one of the hardest things to talk about as a comic is having money because it’s so unrelatable. But this is such a big part of my life.”
Now that she’s had some experience as a mother, “Hard Knock Wife” digs deeper into the theme of motherhood than “Baby Cobra” did. But if you were expecting a mellow and mature evolution, think again. She makes jokes about farting, urinating and various sexual acts, but her dirtiest material might be about childbirth. “Giving birth is hard core,” she said at home. “Sex is not dirty. A C-section is dirty.”
In the new special, she pokes fun at her mother for asking if being the breadwinner would threaten her husband, and in person, she underlined the point. But she also allowed for more nuance.
“I make fun of him a lot,” she said, “but the truth is he’s a VP at a multimillion-dollar tech company.”
At one point, her husband interrupted the interview as he came downstairs. He made small talk but did not linger. After he left the house, Wong said, “Obviously, he doesn’t like talking to journalists.” Then she went quiet. “It’s strange,” she said. “It’s been a really strange transition.”
She said that he had become more open to her talking about their family onstage, but that with her growing profile he had asked to hear jokes that include him at the beginning of the process of working them out, not the end, and he had occasionally vetoed a bit.
“He’s an Asian unicorn; there’s nobody like him,” she said, singing his praises after explaining why there are things more important than comedy. “I have to run jokes by him or I lose my marriage. That’s not worth a cool joke.”