“I don’t wanna lean in, okay? I wanna lie down.”
In her new one-hour Netflix stand-up special, Baby Cobra, Ali Wong wastes no time taking a swipe at the concept of “leaning in,” made famous by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The tiny, foul-mouthed comic bends at the waist, miming sleep and revealing a very pregnant belly.
Wong is a rising comedian and writer for ABC’s Fresh off the Boat. And when she taped the show, which premiered on Friday (May 6), she was seven and a half months pregnant. It’s a rare sight in the predominantly white, male world of stand-up that so often trades on dudeliness. Less than a quarter of Netflix’s original stand-up specials feature female comics.
Even among female stand-up comics, it’s not common to see moms, says Wong onstage, recalling that many of her more successful female friends in comedy discouraged her from having kids. But in fact, as she later told fellow comedian Marc Maron, the grueling life of stand-up comedy can be good practice for pregnancy.
Flying to shows in middle-of-nowhere US towns, then getting up again in the morning to fly to another lackluster crowd trains you for life without sleep, she says. Wong illustrates the point by casually pumping her breast milk for fifteen minutes in the background of her interview with Maron.
Comedy-watchers skew male, but increasingly women like Amy Schumer and Samantha Bee are talking about their vaginas and period problems and finding an audience. And in the case of Wong, the fatigue and grossness of pregnancy, it turns out, makes for great comedy.
Still, the self-described aspiring housewife jokes that it’s just not that great being a working woman. ”Our job used to be no job. We had it so good!” she says. “We could have done the smart thing—which would have been to continue playing dumb for the next century.”