Ashley Ray's 'Ice Cream Money,' and hit podcast tell truths with laughs

  • by Laura Moreno
  • Sunday March 10, 2024
Share this Post:
Ashley Ray (photo: Instagram)
Ashley Ray (photo: Instagram)

Ashley Ray, the "most famous bisexual solo polyamorous Black queer comedian, actor, and writer currently based in Los Angeles," continues to inform and entertain with her recently released debut comedy album "Ice Cream Money."

Recorded live at Union Hall in Brooklyn, "Ice Cream Money" showcases Ms. Ray's penchant for delivering stunningly incisive humor in an effortlessly entertaining style. It informs as well as entertains.

"Albums are what made me fall in love with stand-up because it feels like being in a club," said Ray in a press statement. "When I'm listening to comedy, I'm more aware of the audience response or one person's unusual howl. With clips and video sets, it's easier to ignore that unless the comic calls it out. I've been lucky to do stand-up all these years and this album is my appreciation for the craft."

Originally from Chicago, Ray's work explores the intersection between culture, race, gender, queerness, and sexuality.

Ray honed her stage presence at a lot of open mics in high school, doing spoken word and storytelling. But she found she just wanted to do comedy. That's when she took the plunge and did Cole's Open Mic in Chicago. She had the good fortune to meet Sarah Squirm (now part of the SNL cast), who offered generous helpings of encouragement.

"Chicago is a great place to come up," she says. "You can be weird and find your voice."

It's been a rocky road, but very much worth it. The cool material featured in 'Ice Cream Money' is the result of over eight years of touring as a stand-up comedian. Ray was named one of HBO Max's Queer Comics to Watch, and Bust Magazine called her material "whip smart."

Ashley Ray  

What is Black privilege?
There is such a thing as Black privilege, Ray explains in "Ice Cream Money," introducing this segment as "the political part of the show."

She begins with a deadpan delivery: "I'm Black." Visibly more vanilla than chocolate, she pauses with perfect comedic timing. "Both of my parents are Black." The audience responds in hushed tones. "I know. I'm the color Michael Jackson was aiming for."

Perhaps being whiter than many mixed race people who really do have a White parent has made her more aware of Black privilege.

For one, she points out that it took law enforcement seven full years to nab mobster Al Capone, but it took them 30 years to catch R. Kelly, and R. Kelly is functionally illiterate.

"Al Capone had the power of the mafia," she says. "R. Kelly didn't even have the alphabet. That's crazy." That's Black privilege."

Another Black privilege is based on the old stereotype that Black people do whatever they want in movie theaters. So, why not? Once she even took a whole steak dinner into the theater wrapped in foil and chowed down on a fantastic meal during the movie. The White man in front of her turned around and said, "It smells like meat in here," but rather than confront her, he got up and walked away.

The Hit Podcast
Ray's incredible wit and wisdom have also powered her hit podcast, "TV, I Say with Ashley Ray" currently in its third season.

Each week Ray drops a new episode featuring a star-studded list of comedians, actors, and television writers, who discuss your favorite shows and break down memorable moments in television. Her guests have included the likes of Nicole Byer, Roxane Gay, and Jason Mantzoukas.

Named a Podcast Worth Checking Out by the New York Times, "TV, I Say" is a truly funny podcast that serves up personal stories about coming out, dealing with family, and being subjected to now illegal conversion therapy as a kid, sprinkled with anecdotes about being bisexual, polyamorous, and "Midwest rude" or being mean in a very sweet way. Remember "Fargo"?

A television writer on Adult Swim's TV show "Alabama Jackson," Ray also covered pop culture for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Variety, The A.V. Club, The Cut and many other publications.

Despite her busy schedule, Ashley Ray still finds the time to host "High Gear Comedy," a live show with Barbara Gray that takes place every month at The Airliner in Los Angeles.

"I've lived a ridiculous life and I wanted to introduce myself to people with 'Ice Cream Money.' Everyone should have ice cream money."

Never miss a story! Keep up to date on the latest news, arts, politics, entertainment, and nightlife. Sign up for the Bay Area Reporter's free weekday email newsletter. You'll receive our newsletters and special offers from our community partners.

Support California's largest LGBTQ newsroom. Your one-time, monthly, or annual contribution advocates for LGBTQ communities. Amplify a trusted voice providing news, information, and cultural coverage to all members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay -- Donate today!