O’siyo. Charlie Hill is an Oneida-Mohawk-Indian, and a famous comedian. He feels fortunate to have “achieved the American dream” but realizes that for many of his fellow Native Americans the dream is still out of reach. Charlie has helped diminish the stereotypes of Indians through his style and humor, and focuses on issues of human dignity and spirit. To many American Indians, Charlie Hill is a true hero.
Excerpt: Native American Comic Living The ‘Indigenous Dream’, By Elizabeth Blair, NPR
“Native American comedian Charlie Hill says he’s living the American dream.
Actually, make that the “indigenous dream,” which he prefers to call it.
In many ways, Hill’s comedy is about how native people weren’t even allowed to have an American dream. Hill, from the Oneida tribe of Wisconsin, quips in one of his routines: “We used to be from New York. We had a little real estate problem.”
Hill made his TV debut on The Richard Pryor Show in the 1970s, and has been on Late Night with David Letterman and The Tonight Show. While he may not be very well known to the general public, to Native Americans, he’s a hero.
Take the fact that Native Americans have been the source of endless mockery, he says. “They make fun of the way we dance, we sing, our drum, our names, our religion, our rituals — you name it.”
So one of Hill’s dreams was to turn that humor around. “My whole thing is to get people to laugh with us, not at us,” he says.
Hollywood stereotypes have offered Hill a deep well from which to draw jokes. He re-creates the dialogue from old Westerns, but always gives the Indians the last laugh.
But he also stresses that it wouldn’t have been possible for him without help from other comedians, as well as other prominent Native Americans like the late writer Vine Deloria Jr., and singer Buffy Sainte-Marie.
He still travels to Los Angeles for work, but his home is on the Oneida reservation in Wisconsin…”
Read (and listen to ) his entire uplifting story at NPR.org.
See segments of Charlie Hill’s comedy on LOL Comedy TV
“I feel strongly that laughter is one of the ultimate forms of quick healing.”~Charlie Hill~
“He who has the courage to laugh is almost as much a master of the world as he who is ready to die.” ~Giacomo Leopardi~