Comedic duo Shawn Cuthand and Danny Knight say making audiences laugh until they cry helps them listen better to the serious themes present in TV shows like APTN’s latest pseudo-newscast, The Feather News.
The Feather News is a comedy show that parodies media and government from an Indigenous perspective. Featuring Knight, Cuthand, Ryan Moccasin and Muskwa Lerat, the series gives audiences a fresh take on current news shows. Through the six sketch-based episodes, the news team tackles hot topics including false claims of Indigenous identity, protests, systemic racism, social media activism and more.
“We like to soften them up with humour before we really punch them in the gut,” said Cuthand. “When you make someone laugh they kind of let their guard down. Then when we hit them with the issue they are more likely to accept our message behind it.”
The Feather News is set to premiere on APTN lumi on Feb. 14. Knight and Cuthand are the two hosts. Moccasin is the executive producer and Cuthand is also a producer.
“Each episode revolves around an Indigenous issue. We have one that deals with Indigenous people and the RCMP. We hope people learn how we are unfairly targeted and the struggles that come with that,” said Knight. “Another episode deals with the casino industry and how non-Indigenous people will say all of our money comes from casinos. That is not true as Indigenous people have several different economic revenue streams.”
The two comedians agreed that laughter is healing to Indigenous nations all across the North.
“Laughter is medicine. Laughter is one of the things that make Indigenous people so resilient. We can take the worst of times and find some sort of humour and breathe a little bit of joy in that,” said Knight.
The Feather News began as a blog put together by Moccasin as a writing exercise. He asked Knight and Cuthand to help film its first few web videos. Knight thought the content was good enough to be an Indigenous daily show — a blend of The Dave Chapelle Show and The Daily Show.
“Because of how much the narrative out there isn’t in Indigenous hands I thought it should be an Indigenous daily show. We are all funny guys and we all kind of know if we are out there being serious, people would tune us out. Because that’s what happens with Indigenous messages. So doing it with comedy people might listen.”
Knight describes his character as a little bit shocking. According to him, audiences are likely to ask themselves, “Is this guy serious or just super dumb?” Cuthand’s on-air persona — Shawn Loosemoose — is going to be his take on an uncle that still wants to party and hang out with all the cool youth.
“That’s kind of what we’re going for,” said Cuthand.
The six-episode series is written for everyone and for all ages, despite an online disclaimer letting know viewers should expect strong language and content that may be offensive.
“I’d say it’s written for everyone,” said Knight. “Definitely Indigenous people because we’re talking about Indigenous people but at the same time we’re also sharing a bit of the experience so non-Indigenous people can understand. We also do it with the intent to make people laugh so if you’re a white person thinking, ‘Should I be laughing?’ Yes, you should be laughing. It’s OK to laugh because we’re the ones who are in control of the voice.”