Hey guys, I got interviewed for a student's research paper on Native comedians. Here are the questions and my answers.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in the Bay Area. My mom is from Michigan, Anishnabe, and my father is from Oklahoma, *Sac & Fox* . They moved to the Bay Area as apart of the Urban Indian Relocation Program, where the government was trying to get the Natives off the reservation and into city dwellings to make them more Americanized.
What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome in your life?
This is a tough question because it could mean anything. Waking up everyday can be a obstacle for some people. For me, one of the biggest obstacles was figuring out what I was going to do after college. At the time, when I decided to be a stand up comedian, it felt right and to this day, it still feels right. I didn't want to be one of those people who got old and regreted not going for what made them happy in life.
What experiences might have influenced you into Stand-up Comedy?
I definitely watched a lot of comedy when I was kid. In 1986, my family took me to Eddie Murphy's live stand up comedy flim, "Raw" . From then on I guess that's what got me into stand up comedy. Nobody made me laugh like Eddie Murphy until Sam Kinison came along and then my comedy idol has been Margaret Cho ever since. Margaret probably had the most pull over me. When I first saw her back in the 90's, it just felt like she was speaking to me. It's no coincidence that she's a huge gay male fan base as I'm sure they felt she was speaking for them too.
Where does your material come from?
Most of my material comes my personal life experiences. Another big part of it comes from my active imagination. When I was younger I was a big dreamer and to this day I still am. I've turned into a good writer over the years and I know what captivates the people's attention, which means I have been known to fabricate a lot of my stories, mostly in the name of entertainment.
Is comedy or Stand-up therapeutic to/for you?
Definitely. Unless you're the Dali Llama, I think everyone has a lot of built up angst. And even then, I'm sure the Dali has his days where he needs a break from people too.
I've probably saved myself a huge therapy bill by telling jokes about my personal life on stage. It's not always therapeutic, most of the time it's work. I know people come to comedians to get away from their own daily problems so I try not to inundate them with my own burdens more than they'd want to hear.
Challenges in this field of work?
I'd be lying my ass off if I said there weren't any challenges like the competitiveness with the other comedians, only the top 1% make it in my field.
Definitely one of the biggest challenges is being an out comedian is the political mood in our country and it's policy towards gays. ie Gay Marriage, Gays in the Military, Adoption
Comedy Clubs represent a huge part of the mainstream society which is mostly comprised of heterosexuals which in turn comedy clubs mostly book straight comedians. Gay comedians are usually relagated to doing special shows. Again, this is where comedians like Margaret Cho and Kathy Griffin have changed that standard. They've proven there is a market for gay audiences and it's our job as gay comedians to claim our spot in the market place just as they have.
Do I regret on deciding to be an out and open queer performer, absolutely not. And plus I couldn't hide it even if I tried.
There is still an edge that goes along with being a gay comedian, until we completely cross over we'll always be a rebel or an outcast, which makes great ingredients for comedy material.