The men and women in this series will change how you think about business, music, porn, comedy, gaming and more. They’ve risked it all—even their lives—to do what they love, showing us what can be accomplished if we break the rules. Meet the Renegades of 2016.
Ali Wong wanted it all (career, relationship, baby), got it all and mined every last minute of it in the process. The comedian currently juggles her mom duties, her day gig as a writer on acclaimed sitcom Fresh Off the Boat and her thriving stand-up career—while taking every conventional rule of comedy and bending it to her liking.
Wong’s Netflix special, Baby Cobra, filmed when she was more than seven months pregnant, is truly hilarious and groundbreaking. Now, as a new mother, she’s on another mission: speaking openly about finding a balance between her hormones’ command to stay home with her daughter and her professional need to stick to the comedy grind. The good news? Whatever she’s doing, it’s working.
And while the crowds may be growing exponentially, the objective of an Ali Wong show has always been the same. “I want people to laugh to the point that they can’t think.”
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a comedian right now?
Finding time to hone my new jokes, while spending as much time with my daughter as possible, has been challenging. I can’t travel frequently to perform, or go anywhere far, or for very long.
How are these challenges different from the ones you had five years ago?
I said yes to every single stand-up gig offer before. But traveling to some of these places to perform was often so lonely. I’d feel so isolated during the day and miss sleeping in my own bed so much. Now when I’m on the road, the accommodations are a lot nicer and I savor my time alone. But I’m also constantly thinking about my family and getting back to them.
Have you received a lot of internet backlash through the years?
I don’t spend much time on social media. Especially now that I have a baby, I can’t be ignoring her for the sake of reading all these “mentions.” I also just accept that I’m not for everybody.
I’ve always wanted to be a household name as a stand-up comic and also be a mother. I was not going to accept that they were mutually exclusive.
Was there a time where you tried to play by the typical “rules” of being a comedian? When did you realize you wanted something different?
I’ve always wanted to be a household name as a stand-up comic and also be a mother. And I always knew that I wanted both so bad that I was not going to accept that they were mutually exclusive. After I gave birth to my daughter, it would have been really easy to dive into motherhood 100 percent and take a big step back from stand-up comedy. My hormones were commanding me to. But all of the momentum from Baby Cobra has bred all of these amazing new opportunities that I just can’t say no to.
What has surprised you the most about the response to Baby Cobra?
I didn’t anticipate how much of a game changer it would be. Last year in San Francisco, before Baby Cobra, they had to put some of my tickets at this 400-seat venue, where I was performing four shows, on Groupon because I couldn’t sell all of the seats. Now this year, at that same venue, tickets for five shows sold out in less than one minute, six months prior to the show dates. Also, I just can’t get over what my hero Bill Burr has had to say about Baby Cobra. That he even watched it pretty much made my year.
What would you like to see more of in comedy?
Well, specifically in TV, I would like to see more female showrunners. In comedy, there’s no tougher and more influential job than a TV showrunner. They make all of the most important creative decisions for TV, which is continues to be such an exciting medium. But for the few female showrunners who are out there, I’m just obsessed and in awe of them. I bow down to Jill Solloway (Transparent), Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New Black), Tina Fey (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off the Boat), Marti Noxon (UnReal) and Pam Brady (Lady Dynamite). They have created and are driving some of the most funny and groundbreaking television right now.
What do you want people to take away from an Ali Wong show?
I want people to laugh to the point where they can’t think. When people come see me live, I want them to not even remember what really happened or what I said because they were too busy having joy overcome their body.
Meet the rest of the Renegades here.