CONCERT REVIEW: Ali Wong tackles post-divorce with fervent ribaldry

For Ali Wong’s three heralded Netflix stand-up specials that helped her become a big-time actress and comedic draw, she wore super tight dresses with animal prints. And for two of those, she was pregnant.

But at the first of two shows at Atlanta’s Tabernacle Monday night, she donned running shoes, sweatpants and a sweatshirt, her hair in a loose bun. She appeared more prepared for a light jog in the early dawn than ready to entertain 2,500 fans at a sold-out stand-up show for an hour.

The casual nature of her outfit didn’t soften her edges in any way. Her sardonic, super dirty sense of humor was on full display as she quickly dove into her life as a newly divorced woman.

Wong didn’t talk about shoving Häagan-Daaz ice cream in her mouth while binging a Netflix true-crime docuseries or grieving her loss with a therapist. She didn’t even mention her ex Justin Hakuta by name or provide any reason why she divorced after eight years. (She spoke to Vanity Fair about that in a traditional interview.)

Hakuta is a businessman and entrepreneur who in public supported her career. In 2019, her last visit to the Tabernacle, Hakuta manned the merchandise table for her. (Read my review here.) “He gives me permission to be myself,” she said at that show. He was a frequent source of her comedy in the past, making jokes about how they met, their pre-nup and her secret unrequited desires to cheat on him.

This time around, she spent most of her set discussing her rigorous and ample sex life over the past year as a 40-year-old single mom with two young girls. It helps, she noted, that she’s a millionaire and far more appealing to men than she was in high school when she was merely a “charismatic A-cup.”

“Don’t let the off-duty NBA player look fool you,” she said, saying her clothing came from the 11-12 year old section of the store because it was cheaper than going to the super petite adult women’s section.

Wong early on after the divorce jumped on a dating app and landed no shortage of three-week “relationships.” For a time, she did not want the men to get vulnerable, immediately shutting them down if they wanted to talk about their awful brother or their traumatic childhood. She also was in love with the “courtship” phase of the relationship where the dude would shower her with jewelry, flowers and chocolates. She didn’t want to deal with the annoying “communication” work she needed to do while married.

She described the age range of her dates, from 25 to 60. The 60-year-old was a surfer in amazing shape, but she worried about the possibility he might die while they were having sex. She also marveled over his mesmerizing eyes. “That’s glaucoma,” he told her.

The 25-year-old, in the meantime, was so good in bed, she made a special trip to Chicago just to have sex with him. She also suggested they go to a museum. “Cool! I love dinosaurs!” he exclaimed. She explained she wanted to visit The Art Institute of Chicago, noting that this was the place Ferris Bueller went in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Then she realized he didn’t know what she was talking about.

She said she did eventually fall in love with a Japanese artist, but he had the nerve to break it off with her. She was so down in the dumps around her kids, she said she decided to hit the road because touring lifts her spirits. She also landed a new boyfriend, who she did not describe or name.

Wong also didn’t spend any time talking about her latest Netflix project “Beef,” which has been a massive hit but also faced some controversy over the casting of David Choe, an artist who on a podcast nine years ago said he raped a woman. She only mentioned “Beef” once at the very end after she had completed her set to a well-deserved standing ovation.