Reviews, Theater
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Theater Review: The Wong Street Journal

I adore funny women.

My list of favorites is endless: Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Jessica Williams, Margaret Cho, Tina Fey, and so forth and so on.

Kristina Wong, the pioneering educator who previously informed us that Asian vaginas cure racism, is one of my favorite comedic performers (I’m interrupting a hardcore Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. marathon to write this piece, if that gives you an impression of how much I admire this woman).

I was thrilled to have the opportunity this week to review Kristina Wong’s new show, The Wong Street Journal, which makes its L.A. premiere in November. The autobiographical play is a one-woman 80 minute act that follows the adventures of a literal armchair warrior who dares to venture forth from the safety of her Twitter feed. She travels, iPad underarm, to Uganda for a volunteer program where she experiences “white” privilege for the first time.

The performance, which incorporates videos and pictures from Wong’s actual experiences in Uganda, moves along at a clipped pace. While the themes – privilege, voluntourism, poverty, Africa – are not unique, Wong is.

Wong is ridiculous, loud, over-the-top. She is the first person I’ve ever seen wrangle a dirty joke out of a bar chart (which, in retrospect, is so obvious. How have we not been making bar chart dick jokes for centuries?) She hilariously laments the eternal disparity between the educational power of nuance and the instant gratification of clickbait via the interactive set, which Wong herself constructed, complete with felt ticker tape and mathematically illogical pie charts.

But that space between clickbait and nuance is where Wong excels. To be at once viral and thoughtful, funny and meaningful, may the hardest thing a comedian can accomplish, and Wong has that special power to keep you rolling on the floor even as her subject pushes its climax.

She encourages us to confront our own privileges – which might sometimes surprise us – while enjoying the show.


The Wong Street Journal premieres in LA on Nov 12 – 15 at REDCAT

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