A Sit Down on Stand-up: Female Comics. Reinforcing or Counteracting Hegemonic Ideologies Associated with Identity

Curator's Note

In the beginning of this clip from Ali Wong’s Baby Cobra (2016), Wong addresses the rarity of pregnant comics on stage, claiming “female comics dont get pregnant...once they do get pregnant, they generally disappear.” 

The larger concept Wong is alluding to here could be seen as the way hegemonic femininity operates in stand-up. The lack of pregnant female comics is not just because women chose to quit the careers they love in order to raise a family; but more so because society has constructed predisposed traits of domesticity and demureness to women who bear children. 

Wong rejects these behaviors by not only being a pregnant comic on stage, but by explicitly critiquing the gendered advantages between male and female comics. Wong proclaims male comics are able to get back on stage a week after they become a parent, meanwhile “the mom is at home, chapping her nipples, feeding the fucking baby, and wearing a frozen diaper ’cause her pussy needs to heal from the baby’s head shredding it up.” The argument can be made that Wong counteracts hegemonic femininity in this bit by talking about becoming a mother in a way that is not domestic or demure. 

Contrastingly, in another area of her special, Wong recalls the last relationship she terminated because the man refused to participate in anal sex, “Do you realize that if I went on Craigslist and posted ‘Tiny Asian female seeking anal, the Internet would crash?” By embodying the stereotypical hegemonic values prescribed to women as sex objects for men, Wong reinforces the same hegmonic masculine values that marginalize her own identity. 

Ali Wong’s special Baby Cobra (2016), exemplifies how female comics perform their identity by either counteracting the hegemonic systems that marginalize them, or by joining the dominant groups in reinforcing hegemony through self-deprecatory humor. It is important to take a critical thinking approach to stand-up as these women are doing much more than reciting a joke, but reflecting and reinforcing socially constructed facets of their identity.

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