Ali Wong is the big sister none of us ever had—including herself—but always wanted. As she was the youngest in her family, Ali had nearly free rein when growing up. A privilege she probably abused based on some of the stories we heard in this memoir, but with that being said, she is a big sister, not a mother.
Yes, I know this book was written for her actual daughters. But it is also a book published for the masses, a.k.a. her wide audience. And most of us don’t really see her as a mother figure, but the big sister figure. We learn from her wild stories not her wild advice. So I found this book to be missing the mark a bit.
Her success struggle and her love story are incredibly entertaining and vulnerable. Sometimes we forget the steps people take before they make it big, they just appear like they’ve always been there. Ali Wong was one of those people. She did a lot of work behind the scenes before making it to wide acclaim with her own Netflix specials. And now, you can’t imagine the comedy world without her.
But she is not the comedy world’s mother. I think of Joan Rivers or Lucille Ball or Wanda Sykes as the comedic mother. Simply because, they’ve been around for awhile, they’ve become a sort of familiar face. Like Tom Hanks as America’s dad and Meryl Streep as America’s mother, it takes familiarity and comfort for that parental distinction of sorts. And Ali Wong is just not there yet. Yes we know her, we like her, but she is not the matriarchal figure she plays into in this book.
With that being said, however, I do believe that Wong touches on a lot of great points within her biography. Her cultural pride as a performer is refreshing. As we all know, the fight for success in entertainment industries is incredibly whitewashed or stereotyped. So for Wong to have reached the epitome of comedic success with cultural pride, although not a turning point for the industry, is definitely a foot in the door of change.
Which leads me into another critique. There were few stories within the book that have not been jokes in one of her specials. So I’m not sure that there is enough actual worth within the book’s content to purchase the memoir. Maybe in a couple of more years, a few more comedy specials, a few more stints on the big screen and a few more parental mistakes, then maybe there will be more lessons to write about in a motherly way and more stories to share that as her audience, we don’t already know.
But hey, if you’re completely new to Ali Wong, maybe this memoir is for you. Then again, you might not want to watch her comedy specials. So whichever’s the best for you.