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Faces of Native American comedy

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://media.www.statehornet.com/media/storage/paper1146/news/2007/10/31/Fe atures/Faces.Of.Native.American.Comedy-3065515.shtml Faces of Native American
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2007

      Faces of Native American comedy

      Charles Weinstein
      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
      American culture.

      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,
      Diokno said.

      "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
      Tenth Day."

      Charles Weinstein can be reached at cweinstein@...
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