Bombastic Baby Cobra Earns Big Laughs

Rachel Jin, Lifestyle Editor

Fresh Off the Boat writer Ali Wong brings to the table material of a whole different level with her Netflix stand-up special Baby Cobra. The hour-long show features Wong, 7 months pregnant, relating anecdotes and aspirations that her now-infant daughter won’t ever want to hear come out of her mother’s mouth.

One of the most distinguishing features of Wong’s comedy is its vulgarity. Unlike most comedians, who choose only to lace their relatively vanilla rants and raves with innuendo, Wong is willing to get down to the dirty details of her everyday realities. You will be shocked at how far she is willing to take each of her jokes. It’s rare to see a soon-to-be mom on stage, explaining to strangers what bathroom incidents make her lose respect for her coworkers, or the tips that she received in the course of her sexually active youth (she describes her body as “a public park”). She embellishes her performance with expressive hand gestures and pantomime.

Wong moves at a slow pace; she pauses often between sentences, and she spaces her words out. However, this proves to be a valuable asset, allowing her to pull off surprise twists more effectively and unexpectedly, and she leaves the audience perpetually in suspense, waiting for whatever she has to say next.

Not once does Wong fake innocence or pretend to be a good person. She gets honest about her financial motivations for marrying her Harvard-educated husband, and about how she wants children only for the purpose of financial sustenance when her husband inevitably dies. Like many comedians, she uses racial stereotypes to her advantage, buckling down particularly on the ones that hold true for her and her husband. She elaborates on her Asian background.

Wong’s material touches upon controversial subjects. She spends much of her time dissing the feminist movement and the expectations it has placed on her to work, which hamper her dream of becoming a rich housewife. Though many audience members initially react with shock at her declaration that “feminism is the worst thing to ever happen to women”- she recounted on a Reddit AMA that a woman walked out of her show after hearing that – it soon becomes clear that her real critiques are not as scathing as they initially seem. Rather than rejecting the idea of equality, as many would expect, Wong instead laments the impracticality of her desire for laziness with the expectations the movement has placed upon her and explains that the feminist ideal of aiming high and achieving greatness is not her dream.

Though Wong’s content is funny at first, it becomes repetitive toward the end. Her theme of “I don’t want to work anymore” is a recurring one – perhaps overly so. Every time she mentions her husband, jobs, kids, or money, there is inevitably a declaration of her desire not to work following it.

Wong’s flair for the dramatic and vulgar doesn’t carry the show far. Laughs eventually morph into amused half-smiles.

Still, Baby Cobra is funny. As a frequent watcher of all cheap humor and slapstick comedies, I would recommend it.