BLACK HISTORY MONTH OWNER ARTIST FEATURES: MEET ALI GAUTIER!DATE: February 19, 2021
Meet Ali Gautier, comedian, performer, podcaster, YouTuber, local artist, and proud Louisville Community Grocery owner.
Ali may be spelled like “Muhammad Ali” – but it’s pronounced like “alley” ;)
ALI WAS INTERVIEWED MY LCG BOARD MEMBER DENNISHA (AKA RENEE) RIVERS. HERE ARE SOME EXCERPTS FROM THEIR CONVERSATION.
Renee – Tell us everything about you! Who you are, what you do in the community, how you got here.
Ali – I’m from a really small town, Danville, KY, and I found out as a kid that making jokes is a great way to make friends. In middle school, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I found out then, that comedy can lighten the mood in a heavier or darker situation. In Danville there was a great theater program in my high school and a community theater too. But I was the only woman of color doing theater there. I was told I couldn’t get cast as “someone’s sister” in a play about families like Little Women, for instance – the one time I played the lead, it was in a play about animals. That was my only lead, because the directors didn’t want people to be “confused” when they watched the play. At that point I said, “I’m not seeing the art I wanted to be a part of, so I will make it myself.”
Renee – Danville is lovely… but there aren’t many of us in Danville. It’s so true, through art, music, and comedy we can tell the truth. It’s not only a healing process, but a way that we can speak to other individuals that do, or don’t look like us. I love hearing your stories and why you do what you do. It’s not easy, in these times of change, but we are so grateful to you for being a part of this work. What’s your thought process, what are you going to be doing moving forward?
Ali – I’m actually a feature at The Speed’s Virtual After Hours this Friday, I have a YouTube channel (Could Be Worse) and a weekly podcast too (Funny Fat Friend) each week featuring a Black female making it happen. We’ve featured the Community Grocery a couple times. I was in Louisville Magazine and talked about it. Food is a human right. We were always under the poverty line growing up, and food wasn’t a guarantee. I think that’s just completely unacceptable.
Growing up in Danville, the first time something racist happened to me was in the grocery store, and no one stood up for me. That stays with you. We can’t take fair access for granted. We have got to change this.
Renee – I mean it wasn’t too long ago that we Black people couldn’t even go IN to certain grocery stores. And now? We can *own* the store. We can own the grocery store together! My vision is that people like you and I go out into the community and tell everyone we can reach our story. It is our story.
Ali – This Summer, I was so angry all the time, but I found a way to be helpful at Injustice Square, with Change Today Change Tomorrow, and that’s how I met Cassia and became a member-owner of the Grocery. It’s so spectacular that we are doing this, but awful that we *have* to do it.
Renee – Redd Foxx and Chris Rock and so many comedians out there – get on the stage and make people uncomfortable and talk about important issues. Your voice is power. I praise you for that and thank you.
Ali – Thank you – any time any of us speak, we always have someone else in mind too – we should always be amplifying those that can’t be heard in the back. How’d did you get involved in the Grocery by the way?
Renee – Growing up in this area, you see all the stores stay the same, there’s no growth. Nothing has changed Downtown, in the West End, at least not for the
better! As a healthcare provider I know the difference between high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke. I have members in my family who have died from all of those. Because of our culture, what we’re taught, what’s on our table, we get sick. That’s why I wanted to join and also help make the decisions to guide this group. We need to take pride in our neighborhoods, in each other. Thank you so much Ali for talking with me, and for being an owner of the Grocery. I can’t wait to get to know you more! Oh and one last thing: what’s your favorite food?
Ali – Easy: whipped mashed potatoes, with butter, salt, onion, and garlic. That’s all you need.
Watch the video of Renee and Ali’s Zoom interview here.
SEE ALI GAUTIER: COMEDIAN + PODCASTER LIVE TOMORROW: THE SPEED’S VIRTUAL AFTER HOURS THIS FRIDAY
Celebrate Black History with us with more local Black artist features over the next two weeks.
Thank you so much to Ali Gautier: comedian + podcaster + so much more, for her time with this interview.