Ali Wong: Comedy Revelation
I have been a fan of stand-up comedy since I was six years old and heard my first Bill Cosby record, “Noah, Right?” As I got older, my tastes moved away from joke tellers and the silliness of that Cosby recording to truth tellers. When the truth comes with a laugh or the strum of a guitar, it always seems more accessible and helps it go down easier. I can think deeply while in happiness and gratitude for the gift the person has for entertaining.
After Cosby, I got a hold of recordings by Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Hicks and other talents who made me think and put me in the place of people’s lives I could not consider the same way again after these records and specials penetrated my world. Comedy has always made me pause. The most recent pause was from listening to Ali Wong on Mark Maron’s WTF podcast (Boomer lives!).
Ali Wong goes straight to the truth. The truth of sex over 30, of being pregnant, of the possibility of her identity changing and her career being threatened by her new life as a parent, of delivery, of breastfeeding, of the mother’s changing body and of her own resentment. No sugar coating here. It made me immediately think of Suburban Misfit Mom and sharing her with this community.
Ali shared about going through so many things that my wife went through, things that we don’t hear in mainstream media very often, if at all. After listening, I was left with a deep sense of gratitude, for her courage and most of all, for my wife.
As a husband, I think I fell into some very male thought patterns and behaviors around pregnancy and everything that came with it. My wife’s process scared me, what she went through looked very painful at times and difficult, but I took care of these concerns mostly being paralyzed, trying to fix things or looking at how important it was for us to keep going, because so much seemed to be on the line.
I think my wife’s survival and mothering instincts had her going mostly in the same direction as well. We had some serious emotional issues to deal with after each birth, as individuals and as a couple, but we silently agreed that we needed to move on with work, taking care of the kids and the rest of the business of living. Little by little, we address things and heal.
Sometimes it takes a reflection from outside of your life to remind you what’s missing from your own, or what you’ve put off feeling fully. Ali gets right to the heart of her experience and breaks ground with her transparency. She’s very visceral. It helped me take stock of everything my wife went through. I was in tears for a good part of the second half of the interview, because it reminded me what a tough, determined, courageous and wounded person my wife was after each of her two emergency C-section deliveries and after her/our miscarriage (There are so many aspects to a miscarriage, of course. Some we share and some I will never feel like she does.). It reminded me how heavy the load all of it was was on her. On her body, on her mind, on her heart.
After delivering our children, my wife resented how pregnancy and delivery were depicted, how no one seemed to really tell the truth of what was in store and she would sometimes ruffle some feathers while answering the questions of expectant mothers and women thinking about having children truthfully. She decided that we should know what we’re in for, both partners but especially women, to prepare ourselves better for what was coming, to give ourselves the opportunity to choose all of it and not be left with a pile of “what the fuck was that”? When listening to the interview, I was happy for my wife and everyone who got something from hearing it themselves, because what my wife believed needed to happen was happening. It felt like Ali’s comedy hit it on the head.
I admire my wife so much. She seems to be a very fulfilled mom, happy to have our boys in her life and she is still in the process of putting this all together, eleven years after the birth of our first child. True admiration is looking at what someone has done and wondering if you could do it yourself if you had to, or if you would summon the courage to choose to do it even if you didn’t have to. I’m so grateful to Ali Wong for helping me remember again what a miracle mothers are and to take time and feel it more deeply, for me to process further what my wife went through, to feel that reverence and gratitude and know that I’ll never be able to repay her for what it took to become a mother and takes to be a mother, all while laughing and crying at the same time, my favorite, favorite emotional state. If I remember this every day and it makes me more kind, grateful and loving, maybe it will make a small difference in her life and a big one in my heart.