Ali Clayton is the southern, dyslexic, pageant kid, who grew up to be a gay, cowboy boot lovin, comedian. After graduating college (you go girl) she left the south to hone her comedic chops in Chicago. She has been performing comedy for 11 years and is currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Ali was named a 2019 Breakout Artist by Carolines on Broadway NYC, a 2018 Stand-Up NBC top finalist, and has been featured on VICELAND..
She's on our show on tonight with Damon Sumner & Misha Han.
We caught up with her to ask a few ridiculous questions.
asembl: How long have you been doing standup comedy?
AC: 12 years.
asembl: What’s the best gig you ever had? The worst?
AC: The best is StandUP for Autism. I worked with an incredible man named Bradley for 8 years and now we are best friends. Bradley is autistic and we’ve hosted three StandUP for Autism benefit shows together. He loves the spotlight. At the end of one of the shows Bradley had all the comics on the show come on stage to bow with him and then he started chanting “friends friends, friends!” Myself and the other comics joined him and before I new it the entire audience was screaming “friends,friends,friends!” He really knows how to end a show on a high note.
The worst show was my first TV appearance in 2012. I got booked on the BET show Apollo Live. I performed infront of 1,000 people at the iconic Apollo Theatre. I got booed off within the first 30 seconds, the sand man tap danced while he swept me off stage with a push broom. I’ll tell the full story on the show Wednesday!
asembl: A lot of comics have been doing outdoor gigs since the pandemic struck. If you’ve done any, how terrible has that been?
AC: I’ve done a lot. It felt great to finally get back up infront of a live audience. Some of them have been fun and many have been brutal. Nothing like preforming in Central Park next to a 3year olds birthday party. The worst was when I was performing at Prospect Park in Brooklyn and a crazy man stormed the stage and kept saying he’s a pastor. He went on about Jesus for a bit then he grabbed his penis and informed me that I would be giving him all my pussy. He didn’t like my retort of “well now I’m certain I’m gay” and leaped at me. I was pretty sure he was going to punch me in the face. Thank goodness the beefy dude comics pulled him away from me.
asembl: Other than yourself, name a comedian that nobody knows today but you think everybody will know in two years.
AC: EVER MAINARD! They are hilarious. We came up together in Chicago and now they are killing it in LA. Ever is the most likable goofy person on and off stage. It blows mind that they are not famous.
asembl: What early trauma was most influential in bringing you to stand up comedy?
AC: Yikes! Too many to count. My family are the real life Beverly Hill Billies but more of an HBO version. They’d have huge parties when I was a kid. Every adult would be wasted and My Mama would dress up as Cher and lip sync If I Could Turn Back Time in the middle of our living room. She’s the reason I’m obsessed with Cher! Also I was a dyslexic pageant kid and I was sent away to a Native American scared straight treatment program in the woods of Tennessee for 13 months when I was 15. My sweet 16 was not as sweet as most.
asembl: Which comics have influenced you the most?
AC: Fortune Feimster Her special Sweet and Salty was hands down the best Stand-Up special of 2020. Hahaha I just realized the two comics I’ve mentioned are both southern queers. I’m also a southern queer comic. There’s not a lot of us so we have to lift each other up.
asembl: Which of the following is the threshold at which you consider a gig to be well paid?
o Having to pay to perform.
o Not getting anything.
o Few free drinks.
o Any money at all.
o $20 or more.
AC: Currently any money at all but generally I lean toward more than $20. Not gonna share my club and college rates incase somebody wants to make me a millionaire.
asembl: How has the pandemic impacted you creatively? Are you writing more, less or the same now?
AC: Less! I’ve written and developed a few new bits I’m proud of but not a lot. As a comic I pull from my day to day life and not much life living has been happening during Covid.
asembl: How have you adjusted to Zoom therapy / AA / etc.?
AC: I love zoom Therapy! Sitting pantless on my couch crying into my cat is so freeing. Also I’m what people call Cali Sober meaning I don’t drink but I do smoke weed. I was trying to join an online group for sober people that wasn’t as all or nothing as AA and I showed up to this sober and social zoom meet up and quickly realized I was the only person not in England. Let’s just say I treated it like an open mic and I killed!
asembl: Best puppet based sitcom: Alf or Unhappily Ever After?
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