Columnist, radio producer, and film school graduate Vito Calise, is reviewing all the comedy specials he can see. You know him from SiriusXM’s Bennington Show, The Interrobang’s Big Brothers podcast, and as the star of the first ever Instagram young adult drama series, The Halls. Born and raised on New York City’s Upper West Side, Vito went to Chelsea’s School of Visual Arts, has danced on bars as a bartender around Manhattan, operated a mechanical bull and was even a doorman for a week. He loves comedy and he’s a straight shooter, sharing his thoughts on comedy specials with you. This week he takes on Ali Wong’s Hard Knock Wife, available exclusively on Netflix.
Ali Wong’s latest special “Hard Knock Wife” isn’t a bad special, but don’t get your hopes up thinking it’s going to live up to “Baby Cobra”. It’s not really fair to even compare the reaction because nobody saw how great that first one was coming. “Hard Knock Wife” is a good follow-up for Wong and will keep fans happy.
The special starts off with Ali doing a callback to Baby Cobra and talking about how being a stay at home mom isn’t as good as she thought it would be. It was actually pretty interesting to see a comedian revisit a premise and discuss how they don’t agree with it at the current stage in their life. I don’t think comedians should do entire acts just referencing old material but it’s a concept that I think is really cool and hope doesn’t go unnoticed.
The special has a great theme. The last special was Ali getting ready to be a mom and what she thought she was going to expect, this one is all about what actually went down. The beginning is all focused on being a new mom and what to expect for real when you’re giving birth. But when the special really hits stride is when she goes into how much her life has changed in the past 2 years because of the success of her last special.
Ali Wong has such amazing stage presence. She really takes over the whole set and makes it hers. This is a pregnant woman who is walking up and down the stage quicker and more nimble than most comedians in general. She is such a physical comedian who really knows how to use her strides and body movement to benefit her act. Especially knowing when to turn to the side and show off her stomach. She may have the best facial expressions of any standup right now. Some of her strongest punchlines are just facial expressions that really land and get the crowd going.
There was some really good camera work on this special. There was one angle of Ali from the side that she would make direct eye contact with the camera and there was something about it that really stood out to me. It makes you feel more involved with the special even though you’re watching at home on Netflix because it’s eye contact you normally only get when you’re at a live comedy show. When Ali comes out and makes a joke about her fan base they did a great job of zooming in and proving the hilarious generalization about her audience. The editing was seamless and I was happy with the amount of time they cut to the audience laughing.
Overall it is a solid special and fans of Wong will be pleased. This won’t have the same effect as her last special that had you going out of your way to recommend to people and talking about for the next few weeks but it is definitely one of the better specials to come out this year.