‘Always Be My Maybe’ star Ali Wong finds humor in life, both old and new

  • Ali Wong, right, is pictured in “Always Be My Maybe,” her new Netflix movie. (Courtesy photo/indiewire.com)

HONOLULU — For the last few weeks, Hawaii residents following the trial of Katherine and Louis Kealoha have been riveted by a mysterious, fictitious character named (among other permutations) Ali Wong.

Your questions about the non-existent notary probably won’t be answered anytime soon, but don’t worry. Ali Wong — a real person, formally named Alexandra Wong — will provide all the laughs that we haven’t been getting from the trial.


The comedian, who brings her bawdy, raunchy brand of comedy to Blaisdell Concert Hall this week, is perhaps the hottest thing in comedy these days.

Her new comedy film, “Always Be My Maybe,” came out on May 31, released by Netflix, which also streams her two hit comedy specials, “Baby Cobra” and “Hard Knock Wife.”

While her main co-star is longtime friend Randall Park of “Fresh Off the Boat” — she was a writer on the show for three seasons — it’s an indication of her popularity that she got none other than Keanu Reeves to star as an over-the-top version of himself for the rom-com.

“To have had the oppportunity to work with such a brave, talented artist and great person was a joy and inspiring,” Reeves told Vanity Fair.

Just about everything in Wong’s life seems to be fodder for her comedy. She was born and raised in San Francisco, the fourth child of a Chinese-American/Vietnamese couple. She’ll poke a little fun at her upbringing and the supposed stereotypical pressures that Asian-American families put on their children by pointing out that she has a sister who is “an unemployed lesbian,” allowing Wong the license to do anything she wants.

She majored in Asian-American studies in college, learning that it was a way “to blame white people for all of our problems,” but also getting experience in entertainment when she joined Park in LCC Theatre Company, a group devoted to promoting Asian American creative expression.

While in her early 20s, she began performing in comedy clubs in San Francisco, L.A. and New York — some so dingy that she refers to them as little more than homeless shelters.

It was her 2016 comedy special “Baby Cobra” that brought her into the spotlight. Wong, 7 1/2 months pregnant at the time, appeared on stage in a striped dress that would become a popular Halloween costume that year.

“It’s very rare and unusual to see a female comic perform pregnant, because female comics — don’t get pregnant,” she said in a routine laced with barbs about gender inequality, feminism and hoarding. Gleefully, she talked about “hunting down” her Harvard Business School graduate husband and the desire to be wealthy enough to “comfortably afford sliced mango … that $10 a box Whole Foods mango that was sliced by white people.”

With her second Netflix special, 2018’s “Hard Knock Wife,” Wong was at it again, and pregnant with her second daughter. She included a slew of jokes about breastfeeding and the newfound power she has in her marriage: “Now I make a lot more money than my husband,” she said. “My mom is very concerned that he’ll leave me, out of intimidation. I had to explain to her that the only kind of man that would leave a woman who makes more money is the kind of man that doesn’t like free money.”

There’s plenty of naughty, even nasty humor in her routines, with references to kinky sex acts and basic bodily functions. It’s adult comedy, told with an in-your-face manner, Wong’s eyes glaring through her trademark, large-framed glasses.

Wong returns after a sellout appearance three years ago at Hawaii Theatre, and she clearly has an affinity for the islands. She has said she gets treated like royalty here and included a reference to Brother Iz’s version of “Over the Rainbow” in “Hard Knock Wife.”


There might also have been some oblique reference to Hawaii in “Always Be My Maybe,” in which her character, who goes on to become a celebrity chef, is portrayed as a child preparing a meal of rice and Spam and topping it off with a tiny paper umbrella.

Hawaii clearly reciprocates the love, with just a handful of single tickets available at each of her three remaining shows of four this week at Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.