Tracey Ashleys got jokes

caines | 7/11/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Comedienne joins all-female lineup on Wanda Sykes comedy special When Wanda Sykes premieres and hosts her two one-hour original comedy specials, Wanda Sykes presents HERLARIOUS, later this month, shell be featuring a talented woman who grew up right here in Miami, graduated from North Miami Beach Senior High School and then studied speech and drama at Miami Dade College. Its a tremendous opportunity for comedienne Tracey Ashley, who has been working hard at her craft for over 13 years, has already performed on over 100 college campuses and was a semi-finalist on NBCs Last Comic Standing. She says she plans to make the best of it. Working with Wanda was a like a dream come true because she, along with Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, is someone with whom Ive always wanted to work, Ashley said. In fact, Ive often said that my life would be complete if I got the chance to work with those three amazing comedians. And as I suspected, Wanda is a true professional. Shes a real person too and working with her and the rest of the group was something Ill never forget. Last summer she got a call from Chappelle and was invited to open a show for him in Minnesota. Now shes been handpicked by Sykes herself as part of an all-female comedienne lineup that plans to make the audience laugh until they cry. For those counting, that makes two of her dreams realized out of three. The HERLARIOUS comedy show airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network [OWN] on Saturday, Ju1y 13 and 20. Ashley takes to the stage on the second airing. Can a woman be as funny as a man? Ashley says she has always had an affinity for theater and the arts, but knew in her heart that comedy was her passion. She describes herself as a storyteller and tends to talk about her own life during her performances. I was raised by two southern Baptist preachers and raised in Opa-locka, so I have some great stories to tell, she said. But one of the tough things about this business is women still arent given the same level of respect as men. I hate to admit it but its true. Some people actually believe that because Im a woman, I cant be funny. Or they think that the only thing a comedienne can do is talk about womens issues. Its a tough stereotype to overcome but with professionals like Wanda and some of the other women that are part of this show, maybe we can change some folks minds. We all want to be affirmed for what we do but Ive had some people see my show and then tell me afterwards, Wow, youre funny for a woman. Take it from me that is definitely not a compliment. Word is that Ashley, who is married and now makes a small town in Indiana her home, is a comedienne with a very bright future. Watch and judge for yourself. For more about Tracey Ashley go to www.traceyashley.com or tweet her at #tashley305. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@maimtimesonline.com