The New York Times

Ali Wong Is Crossing Lines Again,This Time in a Book

When Ali Wong is testing new jokes in front of an audience, she does something strange.

“I talk very quietly in a monotone voice where there’s almost zero performance in there, to see if the material holds up,” she said.

Purposefully boring an audience might sound like career suicide for a stand-up, but Wong insists there’s a method to it: If the crowd laughs despite her dull delivery, then she knows the joke is really good.

“It’s all about word choice,” Wong said. “Sometimes I have a joke I know is funny, but I haven’t found the right word, and when I do find it, it’s so satisfying.”

Wong’s conviction that language, even more than performance, is a comedian’s greatest weapon also guided her when she was writing her first book, “Dear Girls,” a collection of essays about her rebellious youth, her struggle to break into comedy, her romantic and sexual exploits, and what it was like to grow up in what she calls a “very atypical Asian-American family.”

Even though Wong seems wildly uninhibited onstage (one of her early signature moves was

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