With Tiffany Haddish’s "They Ready," Netflix presents a rare, all-female stand-up set.
"I can tell you in 21 years, how many women I’ve worked with. I can tell you their names. And as far as a headliner, I’ve only opened for three women, three," says featured comedian Tracey Ashley.
Ashley is one of six female stand-up comedians selected by "Girls Trip" star Tiffany Haddish to round out Netflix’s latest comedy special. In her two decades in comedy, Ashley has participated in countless college stand-up tours, appeared on "Last Comic Standing," "NickMom Night Out" and "Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious."
But an appearance and writing gig on Haddish’s TBS comedy, "The Last O.G.," has helped land her in the streaming spotlight. Haddish curated the special’s lineup to include Ashley, Chaunté Wayans ("Wild n’ Out"), April Macie ("Last Comic Standing"), Aida Rodriguez ("This Week at the Comedy Cellar"), Flame Monroe ("Def Comedy Jam"), and Marlo Williams ("Comicview"). Haddish herself claims a personal connection to each comic and, in the special, says she’s worked with all of the women featured, either on TV or in comedy clubs.
We caught up with Ashley to delve into her relationship with Haddish, her career and more.
You stated in your episode just wanting someone to give you a chance in your two decades of comedy. What does this chance, through "They Ready," mean to you?
It means everything. It means that 21 years on the road, and I lived a lonely life on the road, was worth it. I did colleges, and the reason I did colleges was because the clubs would hire me and the clubs would book me, but only a few clubs would headline me because I was not famous. So, all those years of driving — I was just talking to my aunt the other night and she was like remember that time you were in Alabama and it was midnight and you got a flat tire in the middle of the road? I remember that. I remember being in places I’d never been before having to drive a rental car on a ferry to get to a college. I feel like getting ‘They Ready,’ for me, it’s all worth it. All the moments lead to this. It all paid off.
"They Ready" is basically a big introduction to you and your comedy. For those just getting to know you through this special, how would you describe your style?
I’m a storyteller. I talk about my life. Whatever is going on in my life, you’re going to know about it on that stage. When I talk about my body image and weight — I was told a long time ago talk about the things that get on your nerves. My weight gets on my nerves, my family does, and my in-laws get on my nerves. I talk about what’s going on.
How did you get to a point of comfort being so open about body issues, being in an interracial marriage and other aspects of your life?
Well, that’s always been me. When I was in college, I was on the speech and debate team. I did public speaking and learned the way to connect is to just talk about you. That was something I could do well. That’s what I am an authority on. I know comedians sometimes say it’s therapy, and it sounds cliché, but it is. People have told me I’m different onstage. I open up. I don’t know what it is about that stage. It’s just something I feel comfortable doing.
How did Tiffany approach you to be in her special?
Well, it’s all the comedy Gods on my side. I ended up touring with Tracy Morgan in 2016. The way I got that was he saw me on ‘Last Comic Standing.’ So, I started touring with Tracy and we did over 75 cities together. At the time, he told me, "I’m going to have a TV show on TBS called ‘The Last O.G.,’ and to be honest, I want you to write for it." I had a small part and got in the writers’ room in 2016. He said, I want you to paint the story you do onstage, about being in an interracial marriage, and put that in the show. I knew Tiffany for years, but we were never that close until I started working on "The Last O.G."
Can you recount the most rewarding experience in your comedy career to date?
Besides "They Ready?" I tell you, it was that night. It was like it all came together. I felt like I was on a cloud and I can’t even remember certain things that happened that night onstage. I was so in it. It felt like a spiritual moment for me, like, "Tracey, you have finally arrived." "They Ready" is everything. It’s the biggest opportunity in my career. And I’ve done some big things here and there, but this is the chance for me to actually show more of what I can do.
What was it like working with five other female comics?
What I really want you to know is how loving and supportive the other women have been. I don’t get the chance to work with women often, but this is the first time where I’ve seen only six women on the lineup. A lot of time they try to pin us against each other. I can tell you firsthand, it has been nothing but love.