Social Insights of ‘Baby Cobra’ Ali Wong

Comedy is a vital instrument for shedding light on the social systems that are currently in place. Through their theatrics, comedians investigate issues related to, among others, racism, gender, class, and sexuality (Boyle 79). In certain instances, the presentations support racial prejudice, gender superiority, and long-held prejudices about how men and women should behave in society. Contrarily, comedians may also challenge the beliefs by displaying characteristics or playing roles that go against the social mores. Therefore, this write-up seeks to critically analyze the performance of Ali Wong especially her famous ‘Baby Cobra’ based on the current body of knowledge (Levy n.p). Moreover, the primary concerns will be how the performances shape the existing views on gender race and class.
Theoretical Framework
Based on the heterosexual imaginary as the logical framework organized social processes and practices such as pregnancy, engagement, and caring for children can be understood through heterosexuality (Ingraham & Saunders, 2). According to Ingraham and Sounders (1), women are considered to have unique experiences concerning motherhood, domestic sphere as well as marriage that shape their quality of life. It implies that heterosexuality is a self-organizing process that remains unchallenged in the society. Moreover, the existing forms of social hierarchies concerning race, class, and gender results from institutionalized heterosexuality. Ingraham and Sounders (3) further pointed out that the beliefs and the structures in the society originate from the heteronormative assumptions. For instance, it defines what role women should play in the various social contexts such as in the institution of marriage. It also shapes the prevailing ideologies in regards to class, race, and gender. Based on the heterosexual imaginary theory, the gender influence on the contemporary comedy can be understood.
The viewing of comedy in the light of heterosexuality imaginary, several stereotypes and beliefs have been formed in regards to drama. Firstly, men have dominated comedy based on the stereotype that they are funnier than women. As a result, most women did not gain popularity even when they were more talented. Secondly, due to the assumed sacredness of motherhood and marriage, there are terrains in comedy that remained untouched that is female excretion and pregnant women performing in theaters. As Levi (n.p) pointed out, it is believed that female comedians never get pregnant because they are not accepted by the male managers, or they opt out of the profession due to their condition. As a result, heterosexuality is not only based on the biological aspect; it is also a social process that shapes the behaviors of individuals in society.
Both past and contemporary comedians have displayed scenes that are viewed as sexual abuses to women. However, throughout the pop culture as well as comedy, the reproductive experience remains unexplored. Boyle (84) in addressing the influence of gender on physical comedy noted that jokes about mothers were coldly received by the audience in the theaters while if the joke involved a torture on a female, there would be a laugh.
Performances by Wong in the “Baby Cobra,” the Netflix comedy special provide a diverse view on several aspects of society such as class, race, and gender. The analysis of the drama reveals aspects that support the existing norms and as well as those that are contrary to the theories.
Gender defines the roles and physical characteristics between a male and a female (Ingraham & Saunders 3). The concerns of gender characteristics have determined to a greater extent the socially acceptable conduct of comedians especially women. Most women actors attempt to reject the feminist aspects while performing on stage. For instance, pregnancy period in a women’s life is considered not appropriate for appearing in theaters. As a result, most people believe that female comedians do not get pregnant. As her usual routine, Wong displays a mixture of accepting female identity while at the same time rejecting feminism. Notably, at the period of performing “Baby Cobra,” Wong was seven and a half month pregnant. It points to the fact that she accepts the reproductive role of women which is mostly detested among other female comedians (Levy n.p). On the other hand, her routine expression of women as being equally libidinous as men is a pointer of how she rejects feministic ideologies.
Additionally, Wong is one of the few female stand-up comics (Levy n.p). Comedy has been attributed as a profession for a male who are assumed to be funnier than women. As a result, most of the favorite comedians are men who have significantly promoted patriarchal ideologies in their performance. Wong has challenged these long-standing notions in different ways. Firstly, she is recognized as the second female Asian-American to serve in the ABC as a writer due to her popularity in comedy. Secondly, she openly addresses gender roles in her performances such as productivity among women, nursing children, female excretory, and other topics that have remained untouched based on existing stereotypes. Therefore, her achievements in comedy are seen as revolutionary especially in regards to gender stereotyping and roles in the society.
Wong is an Asian-American whose childhood history is traced to San Francisco (Levy n.p). The humility of her background is viewed as a significant obstacle that bars most comedians from gaining popularity in the United States. The virtue of being an Asian amidst white population is a sufficient throwback to prevent an individual from exploiting their talent. It is because they are considered to possess little or no wealth to enable them to scale such heights. Moreover, their color sparks prejudice among the audience and other peers. Against the Chinese and Vietnamese cultural background, Wong makes the discussion that most female comedians will keep off. She tackles the existing prejudice lightly and attempts to normalize her trivial cultural history (Levy n.p). It implies that she presents an argument that there are racial obstacles in the society that results in prejudice. However, the racial differences can be a source of success when people begin to acknowledge and appreciate themselves as being part of a particular race. As a result, she defies the stereotypes in regards to race as completely defining the success and achievement in the society.
The class is viewed from the existing social stratifications based on economic and political prowess. Ingraham and Sounders (4) pointed out the breakdown heterosexuality into gendered perception defined by resource endowment as a determining factor for an individual’s position in the society. Famous comedians who have gained significant wealth belong to a separate social class. In their view, pregnancy is a taboo that will bar them from self-actualization. Wong provided a different insight into the notion that when female comedians become pregnant, they lose their value on stage. She gained more popularity through freely discussion restroom habits as well as body changes that result from pregnancy. After achieving higher levels of popularity, she is still capable of jokingly discussion sensitive topics such as past miscarriage and sexual life. Her routine of tackling personal issues differs significantly with those of the female comedians of her category who will view exposure of sexual life and pregnancy as degrading to their status.
Usually, the haves in the society is expected to behave in certain ways that are considered to be private and exhibit some levels of integrity even when it does not exist in their personality. Wong’s routine in performance does not reflect extreme division in society alongside economic status implying that some of the long-standing beliefs in regards to social and economic class are based on mere perceptions. Also, the use of Wong’s ethnicity in her comedy points to the reality of poverty in her background. It is apparent that there are existing differences in the distribution of resources based on the ethnic grounds which defines the classes in the society (Levy n.p). For instance, most whites belong to the higher social class while men of color and Asian-Americans are mostly found in the low-income brackets. Wong acknowledges the differences in levels. Meanwhile, she views them as challenges that should and can be overcome by everyone in the society.
Based on the routine performance by Wong, the theoretical framework that guides the analysis that is heterosexual imaginary examines social institutions such as marriage, sexuality, and race among others that are visible in “Baby Cobra.” In regards to gender factors I the society, Wong’s regular performance reveals feminist ideologies, the role of women, the existing stereotypes, and its rejection among women, especially in comedy. On the other hand, the racial aspects are evident in her background history being an Asian-American. However, she openly addresses the existing perception in regards to her race while making light the trivial cultural forms of the Vietnamese culture. Finally, Wong displays concerns of existing classes in the society through her simple life which contradicts the wealthy lifestyle. She also acknowledges the obstacles that are financial and social that individuals are subjected to due to their social backgrounds.

Works Cited
Boyle, Bridget. “Take me seriously. Now laugh at me! How gender influences the creation of contemporary physical comedy.” Comedy Studies 6.1 (2015): 78-90.
Ingraham, Chrys, and Casey Saunders. “Heterosexual Imaginary.” The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies (2016).
Levy Ariel. The New Yorker; Ali Wong’s radical raunch, 2016. The New Yorker, 2016. Accessed 15 June 2017.

Links to Ali Wong’s Images and Live Performance
Ali Wong’s images during performance:
Ali Wong’s Video, live performance:

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