Finding unity through comedy

I’m a professional comedian. I write for a living. I scour the news, the internet, my community & pop culture for things to talk about onstage. It’s a weird job. It’s a job most people don’t understand.

Comedy can be silly. There are plenty of examples of comics that talk about smoking weed with their cat, how bad their day job sucks or how crazy their ex-girlfriends are. If you were to go to a comedy club 10 times – I’d guess 7 of those times you’d hear a comic riff on these general topics.

For most, comedy is a break from real life. Most people turn to comedy to escape – like watching a movie or hockey game – comedy gives us a break from the grind of everyday life.

I wish I could say that were true for me. I wish it was just a way to release my silly thoughts to the world. But that’s not the reality. Comedy has become so much more than that for me. In fact, I’d say most Native comedians feel that pressure to be more than just a comic. There is an inherent responsibility we have as Native comedians. We work in mainstream clubs, we’re in front of a mixed audience and we live in a (mostly) racist country. Therefore, we have a job to do.

What a job it is. Personally, I’ve taken on the church, the government, residential schools, racism, rednecks, my own self-esteems and addictions issues and my own personal journey to unpack the legacy of all of the above. Hilarious, right? Well. Sometimes.

I use comedy as a way to push back against what society tells us we are “supposed to be.” I use comedy to bully the bully. I use comedy to fight back. There are a handful of Native comedians that choose to use comedy at the expense of our people – they take the weaknesses we have, the negative mainstream ideologies and the stereotypes and they use them for laughs. I reject this outright.

We are at a critical time. We are at a time where we all need to stand together. We can’t afford to take power from each other anymore. We can’t afford to draw arbitrary lines in the sand anymore. We have to find a way to unite, to build our power back up, to rebuild our communities. If you use our media, comedy & music to do this – we will be stronger.

We can model this unity in our lives. We can model this spirit of unity in our families. We can model this in our communities. We can create the narrative going forward. We can unite around ideas, positive and real representations of who we are as Indigenous Peoples. We can do ALL this and more – but we must unite. We must unite around the idea that we are worth it – that our lives are worth it. We must unite under the idea that we are in this together.

Let’s unite through laughter and art – it makes sense.

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