After years of putting in the work, two bombshell comedy specials have skyrocketed Ali Wong to the top of the comedy world—and she’s showing no signs of slowing down now. After making her name as a stand-up comic, Wong has proved that she’s a force to be reckoned with, whether she’s working behind or in front of the camera. With that in mind, we here at Factinate would like to take you on the journey of how Ali Wong got to where she is today.
1. Welcome To The World
Alexandra Dawn Wong was born on April 19, 1982, in San Francisco.
2. Late Bloomer
Despite her current status as a stand-up and a comedic actress, Wong didn’t try stand up comedy until she was in her early 20s. It just goes to show that people find success in their own time.
3. Know Your Roots
Ali Wong is the youngest of four siblings born to Adolphus and Tam Wong. While Adolphus was born in the United States, his ancestors immigrated to the country from China. Tam, meanwhile, immigrated to the United States from the Vietnamese city of Hue.
4. Ask Me Anything
One of Wong’s most unique credits on IMDb is the comedy series Fresh Off the Boat. Following the adventures of a Taiwanese-American family living in Florida, this show marks only the second time in US history that a sitcom starring an Asian-American family aired on a primetime network (the first being the short-lived 1994 series All-American Girl).
Wong was a writer for the series, but for 23 episodes, she is also credited as a consultant. Given her talents, we’re not surprised that they wanted her advice.
Wong attended classes at San Francisco University High School, a prep school, graduating in 2000. During her time in high school, Wong served as the student body class president.
6. From One Comic To Another
One of Ali Wong’s mentors is none other than comedic legend Chris Rock. For his part, Rock has never been shy praising Wong’s talent, popularity, and work ethic.
7. When Randy Met Ali
While Wong was involved with the LCC Theatre Company during her time in college, she evenutally met one of said company’s co-founders: Fellow actor/comedian Randall Park. The two of them have since become regular collaborators in their film careers (more on that later).
8. A Noble Cause
Wong’s father, Adolphus Wong, spent more than thirty years working as a physician for Kaiser Permanente. If that name just made you frown in confusion, KP is an integrated managed care consortium based in Oakland, California. This huge organization is focused entirely on healthcare, employing over 80,000 physicians and nurses across 39 different medical centers.
9. Going Vigilante
From the stand-up stage to superhero movies, Ali Wong has done it all. She appeared in Birds of Prey, the first R-rated film of the DC Extended Universe, which follows Harley Quinn (played once again by Margot Robbie) as she joins forces with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez).
Wong plays a District Attorney and Montoya’s ex-girlfriend.
10. Don’t You Want More?
According to Wong, she’s had several relationships over the years with men who, while good and kind, were only interested in being “big fish in a small pond.” It was this lack of ambition on their part—and a little overuse of hallucinogens to boot—that caused her to move on from them.
11. Steady Paychecks
In 2016, American Housewife premiered on ABC, depicting the life of a woman named Katie, who lives among the affluent in Connecticut. Wong co-stars as Doris, a friend of Katie’s and whose strict parenting is a contrast to Katie’s approach with her kids. There’s nothing like a steady paycheck in the world of acting, and American Housewife is about to enter its fifth season.
12. And Action!
Wong made her feature film debut in 2012 when she acted in Oliver Stone’s action/crime film Savages, which was in turn based on the bestselling novel by Don Winslow. Ultimately, her part in the film was rather brief, with little room for any comedy, but it meant that she got to act alongside such people as Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
13. Sounds Like A Big Reunion
In 2019, Wong performed her first leading role in a film. Produced and released by Netflix, the rom-com Always Be My Maybe featured Wong and Randall Park as co-stars. They were joined by Ashley Liao, Susan Park (no relation to Randall), and Nahnatchka Khan as director. All of them had previously worked together on Fresh Off the Boat.
Wong and Park wrote the movie themselves, alongside journeyman screenwriter Michael Golamco.
14. Play Ball!
One of the honors that Ali Wong has experienced in life is being able to throw the first pitch at a Major League baseball game. She did so at one of her hometown San Francisco Giants’ games. No word on whether she quoted Ferris Bueller while watching the game, however.
15. Working Mom
As of 2020, Ali Wong has two daughters. They were born in November 2015 and December 2017, respectively. Of course, Wong’s fans would have had a pretty clear idea that she had at least two children, but more on that later.
16. Money Maker
While Wong hasn’t disclosed her salaries within the world of entertainment, it’s been estimated that her net worth is around $2.5 million at this point. That might seem like either a lot or not enough for all the laughs she’s given us over the years, but either way, living in California with two kids, one wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that the money is well spent!
17. What’s In A Joke?
When asked about her limits regarding comedy material, Wong has remained adamant that she considers nothing to be off-limits, but if she can’t find humor in it, then she doesn’t bother. Her prime example was politics, stating that she can’t go into that topic without becoming too sincere and honest in her own convictions.
18. Covering New Ground
Despite her own decision that nothing is off-limits regarding comedy, others have challenged Wong on what she should and should not joke about. According to an interview with Wong, her manager approached her with concerns that her stand-up was relying too much on humor related to being a new mom (breastfeeding, childbirth, etc.) as opposed to her earlier bits about dating and sex.
Wong retorted that she wanted her comedy to reflect what she was experiencing as a person in her own life. Those who have seen her comedy acts can decide for themselves how funny this new approach is.
19. My Heroes
Growing up, Ali Wong was always inspired by the comedy work of Carol Burnett (particularly her performance in Annie), Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and Eddie Murphy. Murphy in particular was a source of much entertainment for Wong and her siblings, as they’d memorize his material thanks to her brother recording several of Murphy’s Saturday Night Live sketches and his comedy special Delirious.
20. Unflappable Comedy
If you’re a fan of Ali Wong, you’ve doubtless seen or at least heard of her 2016 Netflix comedy special Baby Cobra. When she performed her set for Baby Cobra, she was over seven months into her first pregnancy. Nobody could accuse her of shying away from uncomfortable topics. Wong covered such topics as her sex life, feminism, and even a miscarriage that she suffered prior to her pregnancy.
21. How Symmetrical!
In 2018, Ali Wong released Hard Knock Wife, her first comedy special since Baby Cobra two years prior. Filmed at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto, Wong was once again seven months into a pregnancy when she filmed the special. Surprisingly, this hadn’t been planned on Wong’s part, but she reflected that it was only fair that both her children get a chance to be with their mom onstage.
22. What If They Tell Dad Jokes?
Despite the consistency of her comedy specials featuring her pregnancies, Wong has often voiced her displeasure with being labeled the “mom comic.” When asked about it, Wong pointed out that middle-aged male comics can go on and on about their home life and their children without being labeled “dad comics.”
Such was Wong’s devotion to stand-up comedy that she’d sometimes perform nine times in a single night! As anyone who’s stood on stage will tell you, even performing once can drain someone. We can only commend that kind of dedication!
24. Follow Me!
Like many people below a certain age in the entertainment industry, Wong has a substantial social media life, being active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
25. Meet Cute
In 2010, Wong was at a friend’s wedding when she encountered Justin Hakuta, a man of Filipino and Japanese ancestry who graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA. Wong and Hakuta married in 2014, providing Wong with plenty of new material for her stand-up comedy.
26. Now’s Not The Time…
Being a comedian does come with a few awkward encounters, as Wong has been more than willing to discuss. One thing she has noticed with the emergence of her fame is that men approach her with a desire to be just as funny as she is, and such a forceful attitude rarely makes for attractive company. The worst of these incidents, according to Wong, was the cousin of an acquaintance at a wedding who began acting up in her presence. As Wong later described it, “That energy is a little strange.”
Fans of Always Be My Maybe will recall that the film features Keanu Reeves playing an incredibly over-the-top version of himself. Not only is this funny because of Reeves’ reputation for being one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, but it was Wong and Randall Parks’ intention to have Reeves in the film as the example of a Hollywood star with an Asian background.
Apparently, Wong’s family frequently discussed Reeves’ Asian heritage in her youth. He’d always fascinated her as an actor, and she really wanted him involved in the movie.
28. Among My Peers
Before her comedy specials ever came out, Ali Wong spent her career working with fellow female comedians on their own shows. She appeared alongside Chelsea Handler in both Are You There, Chelsea? and Chelsea Lately. She also portrayed several characters in Amy Schumer’s Inside Amy Schumer.
29. Keeping Things As Level As Possible
Balancing her career and family, Wong frequently brings her family along with her on her tours. By her own admission, it’s often a rush of activity, and planned routes are prone to detours. But if nothing else, Wong is certainly consistent in her blending of work and family life!
30. My Husband’s Dad
Ali Wong’s father-in-law is none other than Ken Hakuta, a renowned inventor and television personality. Born in South Korea, Hakuta is a Japanese-American who created a children’s toy known as the Wacky Wall Walker, which has sold more than 240 million copies since the 1980s. He is also the founder of AllHerb.com, a company that provides information on herbal remedies for various ailments.
31. Aw, How Sweet!
Despite her aversion to the title of “mom comic,” Wong has found humor and a touching tribute to her talent whenever she hears babies crying in the audience. These mothers would be so desperate to see Wong perform that not even the lack of a babysitter would stop them from attending.
32. I’ll Call Guinness
In 2017, Ali Wong achieved a first by becoming the first stand-up comedian to sell out eight shows at San Francisco’s Masonic Theater.
33. Home Company
In a continuing affiliation with Netflix, Wong has appeared in several of their series, either as herself or as a fictional character. Aside from her comedy specials, she appeared as herself in the cooking series Ugly Delicious and the science-focused series Bill Nye Saves the World. She also provided voice work in an episode of Bojack Horseman, which in turn led her to getting the co-lead of a Netflix series of her own!
34. What A Wisecracker!
One thing that helped Wong persuade Keanu Reeves to co-star in Always Be My Maybe was that he was a big fan of her comedy special Baby Cobra. During the four days he spent filming his part in the movie, Reeves reportedly spent his time quoting lines from Baby Cobra. We can only imagine how Wong must have felt about hearing her comedy coming from Neo’s mouth!
35. Smash Hit
While Wong’s Always Be My Maybe wasn’t given a theatrical release, it’s safe to say that the film was a triumph. In July 2019, Netflix reported that 32 million households had watched the film within the first four weeks of its release. Assuming that someone from each of those households had gone to the cinema and paid $12 for a movie ticket, the film would have made nearly $400 million at the box office!
36. Birds Of A Feather
In the spring of 2019, Wong co-starred in a new Netflix animated series. Created by Lisa Hanawalt (known for her production work on the hit Netflix series Bojack Horseman), Wong and comedian Tiffany Haddish voice anthropomorphic birds. Wong’s character, Bertie, is the neat-freak who struggles with anxiety while Haddish’s Tuca is the free spirit who pursues wild adventure.
Balancing wacky comedy with mature subject matter, Tuca & Bertie holds an approval rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
37. Abrupt Halt
On July 24, 2019, Netflix made the announcement they’d canceled Wong’s new series Tuca & Bertie. While Wong was initially silent in the aftermath of the bad news, her co-star Tiffany Haddish quickly expressed her hope that the show might find a new home—and their prayers were eventually answered! In May 2020, Adult Swim announced it was picking up the show for a second season, to premiere in 2021.
38. Here’s Hoping
In the aftermath of Tuca & Bertie’s cancellation, Netflix was hit with a wave of negativity across the internet. The cancellation left fans of the show outraged. Netflix axed it after just three months, never giving it a chance to gain a following. Moreover, many criticized Netflix for its failure to promote the new show. Hashtags calling to renew or save Tuca & Bertie gained tens of thousands of tweets, which we must assume included some that weren’t from anyone directly related to the show.
39. No More Of That
During an NPR interview to promote Always Be My Maybe, Wong said she wanted the film to stand apart from the traditional rom-com formula. Specifically, she wanted to do away with the “makeover” part of the usual rom-com plot, where the female character beautifies herself to win someone over. As her main example, Wong commented on the fact that she wears glasses for the entirety of the film: “Usually, there’s some sort of makeover…where they ditch the glasses. And I’m not ditching those glasses.”
40. Hands Off!
In 2018, an interviewer asked Wong to name something that disgusted her. Without hesitation, Wong stated that she despised how frequently people touched her pregnant belly, even if they were strangers. We can imagine quite a few women have experienced this and would agree with her sentiments.
41. No Worries, Honey
Anyone who has seen or heard Wong’s stand up material knows just how much of it goes into great detail about her marriage. When asked if she vetted her material to her husband before performing it, Wong confirmed that she did. As for her husband, the only time he ever put his foot down was when the material involved his family. When it comes to himself, however, he allows Wong free reign. As she herself put it, “He knew who he married.”
42. Privacy, Much?!
According to Wong, the most awkward part of fame is the lengths people go to interact with her. The worst it’s gotten, according to her, is when people with cameras confront her, eager for words or even a handshake—even though she’s leaving the bathroom stall and still hasn’t washed her hands. We can safely say that would be our pet peeve about fame as well!