Not My Job: Ali Wong, Comic And Author Of 'Dear Girls,' Gets Quizzed On Girl Deer
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Here's something else that exploded over social media - the career of comedian Ali Wong. It was a Netflix stand-up special that everybody was talking about that made her a star almost overnight, as she told us when she joined us in December of 2019.
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ALI WONG: Oh, yeah. I mean, it's a true story that when I warmed up for my special in my hometown, San Francisco, I did four shows at this comedy club that was a 400-seater. And I couldn't sell it out. So they had to put my tickets up on Groupon.
SAGAL: Oh, really?
WONG: And they - yes. It was so depressing. I was pregnant, and my friends were like, I bought tickets to your show on Groupon. I was like, [expletive], you're supposed to be my friend. You need to pay full price. It's not, like, a cool thing if you're on Groupon.
ADAM FELBER: (Laughter) No.
WONG: So - and then the moment I knew that my life had changed was when I put shows up for sale at the same comedy club, and they sold out in two minutes and went on the secondary scalper market for $1,000 a piece.
SAGAL: I mean, I love the special, but I was trying to figure out exactly why it became such a sensation. Do you have any idea what it was?
WONG: It was funny. I'd like to think that...
SAGAL: No, no. Of course it's funny.
FELBER: No, but really? (Laughter).
SAGAL: No, no. I mean, here's the thing. All right, here's the thing. One - I actually started looking this up, you know, what people thought of it, and one of the things seemed to be that it was amazing to see a woman talk so hilariously graphically about various women's bodily functions.
WONG: Yeah, I get - like, I think I'm always fascinated by how our body constantly betrays us, mystifies us. And my dad was a doctor, so we always talked about those things very openly. We - it was never like, don't talk about poo at the dinner table because that was his life. I mean, his life wasn't poo. He was an anesthesiologist.
WONG: But it was a lot more than poo.
SAGAL: Yeah, if all of a sudden he's dealing with poo, he's at the wrong end and he probably...
SAGAL: And you've written a book called "Dear Girls." It's to your daughters, including the daughter who you were pregnant with during the special, right? How old is she?
WONG: Yeah. She's 4 years old. And she's very aware that she was the one in the striped dress...
WONG: ...And Nikki - yeah. She's like, I'm the one in the striped dress, and Nikki's in the cheetah dress.
SAGAL: Right. Oh, yeah...
SAGAL: ...Because you did a next special when you were pregnant with your second daughter.
WONG: Yes. And everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to be pregnant for every single standup special. And, like, that is not a sustainable career strategy.
WONG: What? Am I going to get pregnant, like, nine times? And then, you know, I write in my book, too, about how there's a lot of guys, you know, who have some weird resentment. And they'll say to me like, oh, Ali, you are so lucky you get all this attention because you're both a female and a minority. And I'm like, yeah, because, you know, historically, that's always been the winning combo.
SAGAL: Yeah. I'm tired of...
WONG: And they're like, oh, but, you know, you know me. You're so lucky because me, I'm just another white guy. I'm like, why don't you be a better white guy, like a more funny white guy?
SAGAL: So you've written this book. It's called "Dear Girls." It's gotten a lot of acclaim, deservedly so. And you say in the introduction that this is a letter to your daughters who are, as we just heard, very young. And you say, I don't want you to read this until you're 21. And then you show what you mean by that, by writing very frankly about very adult issues, including your own, shall we say, romantic history.
WONG: Yes (laughter).
SAGAL: You know, they're not going to wait till they're 21 to read it. You know this, right?
WONG: I know. Oh, God. I don't want to think about that. All I want to think about is, like, potty training them and, you know, teaching them not to bite people and stuff like that.
WONG: You know, the thing that I'm most embarrassed about that I wrote is that I wrote this chapter about how crazy I was in my teenage years.
WONG: And I listed all the terrible things I did. And one of the things I did was shoplifting.
WONG: And I think that's the thing I'm, like, most embarrassed about. You know, not all the men I slept with. I think I'm like, OK, whatever. That's fine.
WONG: (Laughter) But it's the shoplifting.
WONG: That's truly, like, embarrassing and unethical. So...
SAGAL: That's the thing.
ALONZO BODDEN: So how will you handle it if your daughters shoplift, and they...
BODDEN: Oh, God.
BODDEN: ...Open up the book, and they're like, hey, mom, you did it?
WONG: I know. Oh, my God, Alonzo. Don't talk about that.
WONG: That's my worst nightmare. Right now, I'm just focused on keeping them alive, guys. OK?
SAGAL: All right. Hey, we heard that your dress from "Baby Cobra" is in the Smithsonian.
WONG: I still have to send it to them. They asked for it.
WONG: And I was like, well, you can have it. And I was like, but, you know, you better send me a prepaid shipping label...
WONG: ...Because I ain't paying for the shipping.
SAGAL: Really? You got a call from the - you got a call from the Smithsonian Institution saying, we want the dress you wore in your stand-up special because it was so amazing and seminal and important. And you're like, who's paying the shipping?
WONG: Yes. I'm like, I know you have a FedEx account.
SAGAL: Well, Ali Wong, we are delighted to talk to you. We've invited you here to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS: Dear Girls, Meet Deer Girls.
SAGAL: You wrote a book intended for your daughters, as we discussed, called "Dear Girls." So we thought we'd ask you three questions about deer girls, that is, does. I did warn you, Ali. Answer two questions right, you'll win a prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Ali Wong playing for?
KURTIS: Michelle Ryan of Alexandria, Va.
SAGAL: All right. You ready for this?
WONG: OK. Yes.
SAGAL: All right, here's your first question. Perhaps the most famous female deer, of course, was Bambi's mother. What happened to the young man who, way back when, provided the voice of Bambi? Was it A, he became a decorated combat marine who spent his career terrified his secret past would be discovered, B, he grew up to be famed character actor Charles Bronson, or C, he was ironically and tragically gored to death by a deer?
WONG: Oh, man. Well, it's definitely not C because we would all know about that.
SAGAL: That's true.
WONG: Ooh, I'm going to go with A.
SAGAL: You're going to go with A, that he became a decorated combat Marine?
WONG: Yeah, that he was like a closeted Bambi voice.
SAGAL: That's exactly right.
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WONG: Oh, my God.
FELBER: Oh, wow.
SAGAL: Donnie Dunegan was his name. He spent his career in the Marines as a drill sergeant and as a combat vet in Vietnam. And he was constantly terrified his fellow Marines would find out about his childhood acting and start calling him Major Bambi.
SAGAL: Here's your next question. As "Bambi" the movie proved, life isn't always kind to deer girls. And that was doubly true of the one that ran into Canadian explorer Francis Wharton way back when. Why? What happened? A, Wharton, who was toothless, killed the deer, made dentures out of its teeth and then ate the deer with its own teeth...
SAGAL: ...B, he desperately wanted a dog, so he forced it to learn to sit up and fetch, or C, he married it.
WONG: Oh, man. Desperately wanted a dog. You can't get a dog, fool? You got to train a deer? That sounds absurd. All right. I might actually go with B.
SAGAL: You're going to go with B, he desperately wanted the dog, so he forced it to learn to fetch?
SAGAL: No, I'm afraid it was actually A. He...
WONG: Oh, my goodness.
SAGAL: ...Was a tough, old guy. Very terrible thing to eat an animal with its own teeth, but he did it.
BODDEN: That would have taught the Marine what bad ass is.
SAGAL: I know. That was literally the meanest thing ever done in Canada.
SAGAL: All right, if you get this last question right, Ali, you can win it all. Here we go. In October just of this last year - in October of 2019, a woman hit a deer with her car in Ohio. And police who arrived on the scene had a lot to investigate. Why? A, the woman, eager to avoid a DUI, insisted that the deer had been driving, B, they thought the woman was terribly injured, but she was just covered in blood for her Halloween costume - she was going as Carrie at the prom - or C, the woman hit the deer after taking a wrong turn into a corn maze and got lost.
WONG: I think it's B.
SAGAL: You're right. It's B.
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SAGAL: They found the deer, the car and this woman covered in blood. And they were calling the EMTs. And she was like, no, no, no, no, I'm fine. I'm just Carrie, see, like at the prom scene. That's what happened. Bill, how did Ali Wong do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Ali answered two of three correctly, which is a win for us.
SAGAL: Ali Wong's new book, "Dear Girls," is out now. Her specials are available on Netflix. And you can find out where she's touring at aliwong.com. Ali Wong, thank you so much for joining us.
WONG: Thank you.
BODDEN: Take care, Ali.
AIDA RODRIGUEZ: Bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALWAYS BE MY BABY")
MARIAH CAREY: (Singing) You'll always be a part of me. I'm part of you, indefinitely. Boy, don't you know you can't escape me. Ooh, darling 'cause you'll always be my baby. And we'll linger on.
SAGAL: When we come back, our panelists succeed, our phones fail, and comic and actor Chelsea Peretti talks about being the funniest person in her elementary school. We'll be back in a minute with more WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.