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Comedian Ali Wong Offers Advice To Keep Us Laughing Through The Holidays


All right, so you've got the turkey or the Tofurky and all the sides for Thanksgiving. Now get ready to talk about flying mashed potatoes. It's been less than three weeks since Election Day, and we have heard from a lot of people who are worried about talking politics at Thanksgiving. Don't worry. We are here to help, and we called reinforcements. Comedian Ali Wong came into the studio and she told me her 1-year-old is helping her make it through Thanksgiving.

ALI WONG: It's a great time to focus on children. You know, there's not much else you can think about when there's an explosive poo. And I've never been so grateful...

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

WONG: ...For an explosive poo because the task of cleaning it - I mean it's like deep breathing. You just - you can't think about anything else. It really clears the mind.

MCEVERS: Yeah. So we asked some of our listeners what their issues are this Thanksgiving.

WONG: Yes.

MCEVERS: Robin Blackwood - she's from Tucson, Ariz., - she voted for Hillary Clinton. Her husband Steve Wilson voted for Donald Trump.

WONG: Oh, my God.

MCEVERS: The group that they have for Thanksgiving ranges from a 90-year-old Bernie supporter to students from China who are here studying in the U.S., and she said in her email to us that there will be lots of drinking. And about half of the group voted for Trump, and the other half voted for Clinton. Let's listen to what she had to say.

ROBIN BLACKWOOD: My strategy was to send everybody an email asking them to refrain from political discussion.


STEVE WILSON: Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Whether it will be effective or not, one never knows, so it could be interesting.

MCEVERS: So that was Robin Blackwood and her husband Steve Wilson. What do you think about, like, the whole, like, send out the email ahead of time thing?

WONG: (Laughter) I think part of them, by inviting all of those people - I think they want some bloodshed. I think they want it.

MCEVERS: Oh, you think they're asking for it.

WONG: I think they want - yeah, I think they want an interesting Thanksgiving. They're like that kind of couple who likes fire. So I say just go for it.

MCEVERS: And just let the sparks fly.

WONG: Just let it all out.

MCEVERS: No email.

WONG: Let the sparks fly, no email. Have a story to tell. Everyone will leave with, like, a great story to tell. And everyone will - it will be a Thanksgiving to remember.

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

WONG: Just shoot the moon. Just go for it.

MCEVERS: Really.

WONG: Yeah.

MCEVERS: So this idea of, like, everyone coming together in, like, a peaceful space and, like, seeing eye to eye and, like, reconciling...



WONG: They asked for it the minute...

MCEVERS: Just, like, fight it out.

WONG: They decided to marry each other, yeah.

MCEVERS: It's like oh, yeah?

WONG: Yeah.

MCEVERS: Take some mashed potatoes in your face.

WONG: Yeah.


MCEVERS: OK, we have this other listener. Her name's Deb Ann. She suggested using her mom's technique. She said her mom has a dry-erase board on her refrigerator. In addition to writing the times for various foods to come out of the oven, she writes a list of unapproved topics of conversation and approved topics of conversation.

Approved topics will be (laughter) puppies, vacation, home improvement, Christmas and hobbies, and unapproved list, of course, would I think probably be pretty long. She writes, (reading) I think she might need a bigger fridge. (Laughter) What do you think about that?

WONG: Actually, I think that's pretty wise. I mean I could talk about home improvement for a good, like, 30 minutes...


WONG: ...With other people - puppies not so much. I mean I guess it's her house. I think she should let people know beforehand. Just like how you should let people know if you're not serving alcohol...

MCEVERS: Right (laughter).

WONG: ...You should let people know that you're going to be censored, that Big Mama says you can't talk about this stuff.

MCEVERS: Right, right, right, right. You're going to have to know ahead of time. You can't just walk in to some white board and be like, what?

WONG: Exactly.


WONG: Yeah.

MCEVERS: What - you think alcohol in general - good or bad in these situations?

WONG: I think it's absolutely necessary.

MCEVERS: (Laughter).

WONG: Before I had a child and before I had in-laws, I didn't drink that much. I didn't understand it when people said, oh, it's so nice to take the edge off. And I didn't understand what people meant. And I'm like, now that I have a child and in-laws, I'm like, oh, I got edge. I got edge to take off.

MCEVERS: (Laughter) It needs to come off right now.

WONG: Yeah.


MCEVERS: All right, Ali Wong, thanks so much.

WONG: Oh, well, thanks for having me.

MCEVERS: You can catch Ali Wong on tour or watch her "Baby Cobra" special on Netflix. Alcohol not included. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.