Faces of Native American comedy
Faces of Native American comedy
Issue date: 10/31/07 Section: Features
10/30/07 9:42 AM PST
Following the successful comedy show of ANT early this semester, UNIQUE is
planning another comedy show. This time around, two of the biggest names in
American Indian comedy are coming to Sacramento State.
Charlie Hill and Larry Omaha will be at Sac State at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday
in the University Union Ballroom.
"Charlie Hill is a big name in the Native American community," said Zenia
Diokno, UNIQUE programs director.
Hill has been doing stand up comedy for almost four decades and has been on
shows like the Johnny Carson Show, the David Letterman Show and the Tonight
Show on multiple occasions. He's also been voted the No. 1 Indian
entertainer in the world, and he has been the head writer of the Emmy
award-winning show "Roseanne."
"Opening for Charlie Hill is an honor because Charlie has been the
Godfather of Indian comedy since the 1970s," said Omaha, the special guest
comedian opening for Charlie Hill.
The Native American studies department, with the help of UNIQUE, said it
believes this comedy show is a unique way to learn about the Native
The department also said it's going to be a fun event.
"Native American humor is a reflection of Native American
experiences...specifically pointing out history and stereotypes of Native
Americans from a comedian's point of view," said Brian Baker, Native
American studies professor.
Baker also said the American Indian style of comedy resembles the style of
comedians of popular American culture.
"Comedy is a way to learn about others. That's Chris Rock, that's Carlos
Mencia and that's Charlie Hill," he said.
Omaha, who has been on shows such as Comedy Central's "Mind of Mencia" and
BET's "Comic View," said some of his material will definitely revolve
around the American Indian experience.
"Some of my material will be about indigenous experiences and other jokes
that Native students will especially appreciate," Omaha said. "My audience
understands I'm going for a laugh, but trying to make a point at the same
According to the Native American studies department, the comedy show is
also a great way to discover the American Indian community's sense of
humor, something it feels the Sac State students and the Sacramento
community should learn about.
"Native people have always had a sense of humor. This event is something
they know about and I hope they'll show up," Baker said.
Omaha also said the reason American Indian comedy is not well-known is
because mainstream America and Hollywood producers don't believe Americans
Indian have a sense of humor.
"Comedy isn't new to the Native American community. Every (reservation) has
elders that leave you rolling in the aisles with their jokes," Omaha said.
"That's ridiculous because Indians leave the casinos every night laughing
all the way to the bank."
The Native American Comedy Show isn't just going to focus on American
Indian community; there will be something there that everyone can enjoy,
"The subject is beyond Native American humor. Comedy appeals to everybody
and it's something everyone can relate to," she said.
Omaha also said he ensures his comedy routine is going to include comedy
for both natives and non-natives.
"Essentially my show is designed for everyone. Whites, blacks, browns,
polka dots and checkered folks will laugh as hard as Native American
folks," Omaha said.
This is a homecoming for Omaha, a former Sacramento resident and radio
producer, and it's something he said he's excited about.
"Coming to Sac State is special since I used to live in Sacramento when I
produced the morning radio show at KSFM," Omaha said. "I hope we get a huge
student turnout as well as community members who remember me from the
Omaha has also been on NBC's "Comic's Unleashed" and the Latino Laugh
Festival. He's also acted in the HBO series "The Erotic Traveler" and "The
Charles Weinstein can be reached at cweinstein@...