SUBPAR: Ali Wong’s “Hard Knock Wife” Special Falls Short

It wasn’t necessarily bad, but compared to Baby Cobra, the more adult cobra seems to have been defanged.

By Sean David Hartman

Two years ago, Ali Wong did a standup special knocked up with her now two-year-old daughter. Now, just in time for Mother’s Day, Wong returns, pregnant again with her second child, hoping for a repeat of the success of her first.

I’m going to be honest, I really wanted to enjoy her new special. I very much enjoyed Baby Cobra, not just because of its unique set up, but rather her raw and raunchy material that you did not expect from a pregnant Asian lady.

But sadly, Wong’s second special, Hard Knock Wife, seemed like a lighter version of the exact same special, all the way down to the second child currently in her uterus.

Wong talked a lot about her kinky sexual exploits, as she has done not just in Baby Cobra but also in all other sets I’ve seen her in. And though one could easily say “TMI” when hearing about Wong engaging in marital anilingus, it is part of what makes her specials so enjoyable. Unlike other sex-centric comedians—looking at you, Amy Schumer—Wong can fuse explicit feminist-centric sexual humor with a level of tact that makes it clear she is more than just a lustful libertine.

Wong also opened about the horrors of new motherhood, a weird sentiment to promote during a Mother’s Day special. Talking about her newborn as a “Human Tamagotchi”, railing on the painfulness of breastfeeding, and general maternal stresses, allowed me to have a new appreciation for motherhood, but also made me realize how I never want to have children. Maternity is agonizing, a job in its own right. It is why paid maternity leave was so openly discussed in this special.

Wong also brought in gender roles into the conversation. In fact, one can see why Wong’s special is all about feministic empowerment and overcoming the multitudes of stresses of both being a mother and the family breadwinner—Wong talked about wanting to be a “trophy wife” in her specials, having “trapped” the son of a famous inventor. Wong does this not by talking down to men, but by using satirical complaining to enlighten about the life mothers lead.

I do want to be clear, that it was not the feminism that made it a sub-par special. In fact, I would argue it helped save the special. The problem was that it seemed like a weak sequel, an Age of Ultron if you will. Sequels tend to be inferior to the original, and this was no exception.

It wasn’t necessarily bad, but compared to Baby Cobra, the more adult cobra seems to have been defanged.


Sean David Hartman is a freelance reporter for the Central Florida Post, with a wide portfolio ranging from entertainment to politics. He is a centrist political operative and blogger and a student at UCF. Hartman is autistic and bipolar, and supports the neurodiversity movement.