June 9, 2021
EP. 108 — The Unheralded Story of Native Americans in Comedy with Kliph Nesteroff and Adrianne Chalepah
Despite their limited representation in the media, Native Americans have had a profound influence on American comedy. So why isn’t Charlie Hill a household name? This week historian Kliph Nesteroff and comic Adrianne Chalepah chat with Adam about their new book We Had A Little Real Estate Problem, which tells the fascinating story of Native American comedy. Check it out at factuallypod.com/books.
108 — The Unheralded Story of Native Americans in Comedy with Kliph Nesteroff and Adrianne Chalepah
Speaker 1 [00:00:02] Hello, welcome to Factually, I’m Adam Conover. Hello factually fans, factually friends, factually – What if I was one of those podcasters who listed all the different names from my fans at the beginning of the episode? Should I start doing that? I don’t know, I’ll think about it. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like me to start listing the names of all the fans when the show begins. Maybe we’ll start doing that next week. For now, let’s just jump right into it. Jackie Robinson is rightfully considered an American hero. He was the first black baseball player to play in Major League Baseball and by the way; was one of the best baseball players in history despite the torrent of racist abuse that was heaped on him by supposed ‘fans’ and by a lot of his fellow players. What he did was incredibly historically significant, but there’s something a little strange in the way that we talk about Jackie Robinson; because if you ask a lot of Americans (a lot of white Americans specifically) they might tell you that Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player and that’s not true. If you’re a student of baseball, you’ll know that there existed (for decades) Negro Leagues which featured hundreds of incredibly talented black baseball players who were every bit as talented and accomplished as their white counterparts in these segregated white leagues, but who received next to no recognition from the white establishment. So when we wrongly think of Jackie Robinson as being the first, we not only erase the contributions of all of those other black baseball players, we also hold up the importance of the white segregated space; as though making it in that league was all that mattered. When in reality, there was tons of amazing baseball being played by people from all walks of life that is deserving of recognition. So why am I talking about this? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I read an incredible book. It’s by the author and comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff, and it’s called ‘We Had A Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans and Comedy.’ Now, comedy is my field, that’s the baseball that I know best. That is the baseball that I myself work in and let me tell you something: comedy has a representation and diversity problem and has for a very long time. It has for a long time been a space where white voices have been elevated and have had an easier time than everybody else. White, straight, cis, male voices specifically. Now, that is something that the comedy industry has been working on addressing by having diversity showcases and giving more opportunities to folks from marginalized backgrounds, and those are all great steps. But reading this book made me think completely differently about what recognizing true diversity really means, because the story this book tells is of a century-plus of incredibly funny Native American comedians working at an extremely high level in America without the recognition that they deserved. We’re talking about Will Rogers, one of the most famous humorists in American history; who almost no Americans realized was actually Cherokee. Or Charlie Hill, who was a contemporary of Richard Pryor but never got the same credit that Pryor did or the hundreds and hundreds of incredibly funny Native American comedians who are working today at a very high level, making audiences laugh all over the country. They’re just not doing it on TV yet, for some reason. Someone hasn’t opened the door up to them yet. So often the gatekeepers who control the traditionally white spaces see their role as creating a Jackie Robinson; giving someone that first chance, letting them be the first person to do it from that background, instead of turning a lens and a spotlight onto the incredible people who are already doing the work all over the country. That was a huge revelation for me. This book is just full of revelations like this. So I want to get to the interview as quickly as I can. Today on the show, we’ve got the author of the book; Kliph Nesteroff and we have one of the incredibly funny comedians he profiles, Adrianne Chalepah. By the way, if you want to pick up a copy of the book ‘We Had a Little Real Estate Problem,’ you can get a copy at factuallypod.com/books, that’s factuallypod.com/books. When you buy it there, you’ll be supporting not just this show but also your local bookstore. Without further ado, let’s get to the interview with Kliph and Adrianne. Kliph and Adrianne, thank you so much for being here.
Speaker 2 [00:04:42] Thank you.
Speaker 3 [00:04:43] Thank you.
Speaker 1 [00:04:47] I love the book so much. I was interested in the topic going in, but the book itself covered so much more ground than I expected it to. There are so many stories in it. Kliph, what drew you to write the book in the first place? And how do you tell people about it? How do you describe it?
Speaker 2 [00:05:08] How do I describe it? Well, I try not to describe it. I try to hand it to people. It’s difficult to describe to white people, because they have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about. Especially older people, they just don’t seem to grasp it. I live in Hollywood, where you hear the phrase ‘diversity’ all the time, and yet I see this glut of indigenous representation. I think it’s changing a little bit. The cynic in me wonders if it will actually have staying power, but I feel like indigenous representation in Hollywood is very deficient, despite the fact that studio executives are constantly talking about ‘diversity, diversity, diversity,’ and sometimes indigenous peoples are just not on the non-native radar, especially in the United States. I’m originally from Canada, where there’s a national day of mourning once a year for genocidal residential schools. So it’s a little bit more on the non-native radar in Canada, not to say that life is better there for indigenous peoples (quite to the contrary) but at least people know what it means when you use the phrase ‘First Nations’ or talk about residential schools. So in Hollywood, California, where I hear ‘diversity, diversity, diversity;’ people either don’t know about that or they choose not to be aware of it. So it was a hard book for me to describe to a certain generation of non-indigenous people, or ‘squares’ or what have you. Once people have this book in their hands or they listen to the audio book, then it slowly reveals what it is about. Basically the premise of the book, more or less, is about the importance of representation and the type of heinous things that fill that vacuum when there is no representation. What drove me to write the book is that coming from Canada and moving to Hollywood and not seeing indigenous representation, it just struck me as shameful and unusual. So I was sort of using the platform I was granted after the success of my first book; ‘The Comedians,’ to try and do something. Not necessarily from the perspective of the ‘white savior complex,’ but try to do something of value as racism and fascism is on the rise in America. So that’s the context in which I started writing the book, was that pile of negative and intimidating Trump-era politics in America.
Speaker 1 [00:07:44] Yeah, and the book covers so much ground. I think a lot of white Americans, if you were to tell them ‘Here’s a book about Native American comedy,’ they’d say, ‘Well how long could that book be?’ Because they aren’t aware how of much there is to write about, but there’s also a lot of straight up history about America and Canada’s relationship with indigenous peoples. But first, I want to bring Adrianne in and Adrianne; you are in the book. You are written about in the book. What did you think of the project when Kliph came to you first, as a native comic?
Speaker 3 [00:08:22] I will talk to anybody who listens, so I’ve spent my entire life trying to feel heard and seen and also trying to justify my existence and trying to counter narratives. So any time I get a chance to do that in my own words and tell my own story, then I think it’s beautiful. Of course, we native people have had tons written about us by non-Natives. That is not a foreign thing, no pun intended. But my family has had anthropologists pop in and out for generations and study us because I come from a very rare dialect. I am very familiar with just talking to people about my people and with Kliph, I thought it was really cool that he was doing his research and that’s really all I ever ask of anybody; is just do some research.
Speaker 1 [00:09:39] Yeah. Well, tell me a little about yourself in comedy. How did you get started in comedy? What’s your story?
Speaker 3 [00:09:47] Yeah. So I grew up in Oklahoma, I’m Kiowa and Apache, and I got in trouble a lot in school for my mouth. I was a class clown and that was not appreciated in conservative, Bible Belt Oklahoma. So I ended up getting kicked out of school and then I went to a boarding school, and this is a government run school (and it’s still in operation) and it’s basically where some native kids will go when public school has failed them; and I was one of them. And this place really instilled a lot of pride in me but also I saw how diverse we were. I met tribes from all over the place; from Alaska all the way to the East Coast, West Coast, just all over. So it really expanded my view of who I was, because I felt for a second there like I was an endangered species; and it was a very weird time. Then when I met so many other native kids, I was like, ‘Oh, we’re not endangered, there’s a lot of us.’ My school was a pretty decent sized school, so it was pretty cool. But anyway, I have a big mouth. I talk a lot of shit and comedy has always been such a fun thing for me and I can’t tackle sensitive subject matter without comedy. At this point, it’s a crutch. I think my therapist would be like ‘At this point…’
Speaker 1 [00:11:32] I think comedy helps you treat sensitive subject matter better. I don’t think it’s a crutch. I think it’s an enhancement. It’s a bionic superpower, to use comedy.
Speaker 3 [00:11:47] That’s what I told my therapist. I was like, ‘You don’t know the powers.’
Speaker 1 [00:11:51] You might have to drop this therapist. I don’t know about this therapist, if they don’t understand this.
Speaker 3 [00:11:56] Oh, I’m looking. DM me, therapists. I don’t know if I can solicit therapy on here, but yeah.
Speaker 1 [00:12:08] How long you’ve been doing comedy and where do you do it?
Speaker 3 [00:12:12] I started stand up – jeez, like fifteen years ago and then never took it seriously until about eleven, twelve years ago and just did a ring of casinos and tribal conferences. At first I was very niche in tribal communities and wasn’t really getting out there to the club scene and the mainstream scene too much, mostly because I live very far from L.A. and far from New York City and far from the comedy scenes. But then I pushed myself to start doing more road gigs, so then I became a road comic for a while and that’s how I got my feet wet with non-native audiences. So now I am starting to book some live shows later this year and they mostly are for tribal organizations; I’m still very much a niche comedian but I like money, so.
Speaker 1 [00:13:29] I mean, aren’t we all niche comedians? There’s very few comics who aren’t serving some audience who’s like, ‘Oh, I really like this person.’
Speaker 3 [00:13:39] It’s true. It’s so subjective, so that’s absolutely true.
Speaker 1 [00:13:44] Well,Kliph, one of the things that I really did not expect about the book, is how much you’re both covering native comics today and throughout history. Just tell me a little bit about how you came up with that lens and what is it that you were trying to reveal? You said you had a mission behind the book, right? That you were like, ‘Let me let me do something that’s actually worth something or is trying to accomplish something.’ What was it that you were trying to reveal to folks with the book?
Speaker 2 [00:14:15] Well, I just want people to be informed. Most people, I think, read my books and think that they know what my opinions are but I don’t think you could. I think people could make assumptions about what my opinions are. But I try and take a backseat, even though it’s hard because I have a prominent attitude. Most historians don’t use words like ‘cocksucker’ every other sentence. But coming out of stand up, I do. I got this weird kind of hybrid where I’m part scholar, part pot head and it kind of creates this weird dynamic where I want to entertain people, but I also want to educate and inform them. I don’t necessarily think it’s my role to educate people, but I do want my books to illuminate people because in America especially, people make such broad assumptions about things; they think comedy is under attack. ‘Oh, cancel culture, oh PC culture.’ If you go back to the earliest stages of show business and vaudeville, minorities in particular were always airing grievances about how were being portrayed on stage and ‘would you please stop this’ and fighting for representation. So this tug of war has been going on the whole goddamn time, but people seem to think it’s a brand new thing and maybe it’s because the hostility of social media puts it in our face on an hourly basis. But the general grievances remain the same. There’s an anecdote in this book about the silent movie era. In 1911, an amalgam of tribal leaders met with the president, William Howard Taft, in the year 1911 and said, ‘Could you please do something to stop all these racist stereotypes of Native Americans in silent movies? Could you please do something to stop the spread of misinformation and distorted history?’ The year 1911! Consider that Charlie Chaplin wouldn’t be famous for another three or four years and D.W. Griffith wouldn’t be anointed as this blockbuster filmmaker for another four years. So this is the earliest days of the movies and people were already complaining that there’s racist disinformation on the screen and nobody bothered to adjust that, really. Minorities (a lot of different minorities) had less power in the body politic in 1911 than in 2021 and it’s still not equal and still not balanced. But I think more white people, maybe, (I hope) are a little bit more aware of some of these things than they were in 1911. Who knows? Who’s to say that they are or aren’t? It’s been a thing that’s been going on forever. So those were some of the things that I want to sort of illuminate for people; don’t make assumptions based on your own ignorance or the bullshit that you see on social media, here’s some evidence that this cycle has been going on for a long time.
Speaker 1 [00:17:26] Yeah and the call for greater representation as well, it’s around that time also that (I believe) you wrote about a group of native activists who were trying to get less white folks in face paint playing indigenous characters on movies and television.
Speaker 2 [00:17:45] Jim Thorpe, after he became a famous Olympian (Sac and Fox Olympian) he used his celebrity to try and push for some of those changes, even though he himself wasn’t a Hollywood actor. Just like today, sometimes when somebody becomes really successful as an athlete, they want to put them in the movies. And so Jim Thorpe was sort of integrated into the Hollywood culture briefly and he organized this group with another civil rights organization. They had this slogan, ‘Only Indian actors for Indian roles.’ They wanted to stop this trend of white people in random face paint and feathers, which had no bearing on reality. They weren’t portraying specific tribes or if they were, it was this totally distorted version. It was just this amalgam Hollywood fiction. And Jim Thorpe was like, ‘No, we want only Indian actors for only Indian roles’ and Hollywood studio heads would be like, ‘Oh, that would be great, but there aren’t any. There aren’t any Native American actors.’ And then they were like, ‘No, here’s a list and here’s a list with all of their tribal affiliations and here’s a list of people that could work as advisers.’ Yeah, that was the late twenties, early nineteen thirties. It sounds like something that would happen today. It sounds like Illuminatives. It’s amazing how long this shit has been going on and how long voices have been ignored and overlooked, and it’s just unbelievable really.
Speaker 1 [00:19:16] Well and Dances With Wolves as a film was considered revolutionary for that casting in, what, the 90s?
Speaker 2 [00:19:22] And then that movie triggered a whole new wave of stereotypes because it changed the stereotype to a certain degree; from the Native American villain always being an adversary to this opposite: all knowing, communicating with nature, that stoic nobleman and creating a totally different stereotype. Neither really are helpful in terms of what white people perceive as whatever they perceive.
Speaker 1 [00:19:51] Yeah. Well, what do you say about trying to open people’s minds to this? I think it’s really fascinating that your previous book, ‘The Comedians,’ is covering what a lot of people consider the canon of comedy. But your new book really made me realize how limited our understanding of American comedy often is, that people think that comedy is just Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, let’s toss Joan Rivers in there and that’s the canon of American comedians. The comedians you cover in the book, there’s an entire world. There’s an entire world of comedy that people are not paying attention to and there’s worlds within that world,
Speaker 2 [00:20:39] In my opinion, the biggest mistake that people make in America when they study history is they confuse fame with significance; and they’re not the same. So we tend to study only those comedians who became famous. We’re like, ‘These are the significant people.’ But there’s other people along the way that change things, that tried to change things, that were important voices or that paved the way for those people who later did become famous. But these people never became famous. So if you study the chitlin circuit, my God, there’s hundreds of black standup comics all throughout the nineteen thirties, forties and fifties and you’ve never heard of them. If you were to do a study of African-American comedians, you would start with the famous ones. You would talk about Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. But there’s all these people who were not given opportunities in what we could broadly call the ‘mainstream culture’ or the ‘white show business culture’ who were significant and who paved the way and that’s true of indigenous performers as well. So I like the idea that you can tell the entire history of America and tell the same stories that have been already told and use a completely different subset of characters than the ones that we’re used to and still come up with a similar theme, but different individual stories. So I am always interested in writing about the stories people don’t already know about. Why would you write things that we all already know, that we’ve all already heard? Actually I got criticized for that in my first book where people are like ‘Oh he wrote this whole book and he didn’t talk about’ whatever; some famous anecdote about Jack Benny that’s in a hundred other books. That was intentional. I was like, ‘Why would I include what’s in one hundred other books?’ I want to tell the stories that aren’t in books already. It seems logical to me, but that is maybe one of my only real modus operandi: is that when I write, I want to tell the stories that you don’t already know.
Speaker 1 [00:22:45] Yeah. Adrianne, I feel like I struggle with this in comedy: that there are comics out there and comedy fans out there who say, ‘Well, this is what standup comedy is.’ They’re like, ‘Oh, whoever is at the Comedy Cellar, that is stand up comedy,’ and who even knows what else is going on. And I’m often going, ‘Oh, my God, there’s so much comedy out there.’ I’m doing something different. Every comic I know is doing something different. I mean, do you ever have that sense as a comic?
Speaker 3 [00:23:15] Yeah, it feels very high school. It’s like we’re part of this club and you’ve got to be part of this club or you’re not real, you’re not a real cool kid. I’ve always been left out of the club anyway, so I felt OK, but eventually people are going to get tired of seeing the same thing. They’re going to want to mix it up eventually. I’ve been asked to go up to the Arctic Circle because they were like, ‘We’re so tired of just straight white dudes that come through here.’ That’s all they get and if they’re feeling wild, they might throw in a woman every once in a while. I don’t like to attack the booking people because I’ve booked shows, I’ve been on that end of things and so I understand that you usually work really fast and day of you’re like, ‘Hi, can you come for one hundred dollars? OK,’ you’re moving really fast. But also you’re not lifting up every rock to see who’s out there. You’re not really trying to diversify anything. You’re just trying to get paid.
Speaker 1 [00:24:42] Yeah.
Speaker 3 [00:24:44] But I also think that there is a subconscious, deliberate attempt to erase native people, just because it’s so convenient. It’s so convenient. We just saw it with Rick Santorum, it’s like ‘We can raise American pride if we can sell this narrative that this was just wide open space. Nobody was using it.’ Then it’s this beautiful dream that we all thought of. The erasure was really convenient with all of that. So to me it’s getting my foot in the door, but also getting my foot in the door and then being able to swing it open so other people can come in because I do think the erasure is intentional. I do, because it’s so convenient. All the land and the resources, sometimes I do the math; like money math. And I’m like, ‘There’s a lot of money in this country off of our resources and land and our culture.’ I’ve always held the belief that we have a PR problem, really. That’s what it is. We have a PR problem. So hopefully this book will help our PR problem. But I also think that we got to meet in the middle, it’s not that native people are hiding from anyone. I don’t know anyone that’s hiding; my family as loud as hell. If we were to all go out to dinner, we would be very loud and not invisible at all. But I think that it takes America really wanting to learn history. See, my problem here is just that America doesn’t value history. They don’t. They go ‘No, no, no, no. This is the story I was told and we’re gonna stop there. We don’t want to hear your side,’ you know?
Speaker 1 [00:26:51] Yeah, and it’s wild to me that as a form of comedy; as a sphere of comedy, community of comedy, history of comedy, that native comedy is so not well known in the public imagination. I’ve been doing comedy as long as you have; about about ten years that I’ve been doing standup. And I feel I’ve also been performing in niches, for about eight of those ten years it was basements in New York City. Most of my jokes were about the subway and about hipsters or whatever. Jokes about Brooklyn, you know what I mean? How is that different from you doing jokes for tribal organizations, et cetera, and then also starting to branch out? I had a question here about like, ‘Hey, how do you adjust your comedy for a native audience versus broadening it out?’ But then I’m like ‘How is it any different than what I did when I was doing New York comedy and I started touring and I had to learn to speak to other people?’ And why is the place that I came from the more famous comedy niche than the comedy niche that you were performing in?
Speaker 3 [00:28:05] Yeah, no, you nailed it. You start in a niche and then you want to broaden your audience. So you do throw in more mainstream ideas and you go from here. So it isn’t any different than if I’m going to go play a show for – because I do a lot of rural shows. It’s hard to say because I do have an Okie, an Oklahoma accent, so it messes up my R’s but I do a lot of country type of shows and then I can go to the city and just switch too and we could talk about subways, you know.
Speaker 1 [00:28:54] Well, speaking of history, before we go to break I want to make sure that we talk about Charlie Hill, such a main character in the book and such a towering figure and I really have to show my ignorance. I thought I knew a hell of a lot about stand up comedy. When I was starting standup comedy I read a lot and I listened to a lot. And I was not – I think I had heard the name but I was not familiar with Charlie Hill and his importance. And I wonder if you guys could similarly enlighten the rest of our listeners about him.
Speaker 2 [00:29:26] Charlie Hill was really one of the original Comedy Store comedians. I think the first time he showed up on the doorstep of The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip was in late 1974. So that’s even before David Letterman arrived at the World Famous Comedy Store. But in terms of what Adrian was saying about erasure, they just did a Comedy Store documentary on Showtime and Charlie Hill isn’t in it, you know.
Speaker 1 [00:29:51] Really?
Speaker 2 [00:29:51] Yeah. So again, it’s that thing about fame versus significance. Charlie Hill never became a household name, despite the fact that he did the Richard Pryor show in 1977. It really anointed him and established him in the industry, and the comedy club boom was just starting in seventy seven. More and more comedy clubs were opening up and by 1980; there’s all these comedy clubs and by 1985 It’s just crazy with comedy clubs across America. So Charlie Hill was well poised to start touring all these clubs after he did the Richard Pryor show in 77′, did The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson in 1978, the first Native American comedian to appear on late night TV, and so far the last Native American comedian to do The Tonight Show or late night television. And then he did Late Night with David Letterman in 85′ he did The Merv Griffin Show and Mike Douglas Show. I think he did Arsenio in the early 90s. So he was a working comedian and a respected comedian and everybody at the Comedy Store from that era, you talk to them and they love Charlie Hill.
Speaker 1 [00:30:54] He was really funny. As I was listening to the book. I did audio book, don’t blame me. I was on the road.
Speaker 2 [00:31:04] Hey, man, I’m proud of my audio book. What are you saying?
Speaker 1 [00:31:06] You recorded audio for the audio book, did you not?
Speaker 2 [00:31:10] Didn’t you listen to it?
Speaker 1 [00:31:11] I did.
Speaker 2 [00:31:12] You don’t recognize my voice?
Speaker 1 [00:31:14] I do. I mean, it’s just an excellent performance.
Speaker 2 [00:31:16] Who did you think was reading it?
Speaker 1 [00:31:18] Not a lot of authors can read their own books, authors aren’t known for their wonderful speaking voice. You did a wonderful job.
Speaker 2 [00:31:24] This is that historian who says ‘cocksucker.’
Speaker 1 [00:31:26] But it’s a feat of performance, to do an audiobook. You got to sit there for a long time. I’ve never done one. It’s like hours and hours. Like, the sheer number of lozenges…
Speaker 2 [00:31:36] Sometimes when you read about records, like a famous album and you find out the context in which it was recorded: like there’s a famous George Clinton song from 1968 called ‘Hey Mama’ or ‘Whatcha You Gonna Do, Mama?’ and it was recorded during the Detroit riots and they had the studio barricaded. And so when you listen to that song with that context, it has this other level to it. This audio book was recorded (not to compare myself to that) at the height of the pandemic and there was a stay at home order. Do not go outside except for essential services. And because this is Hollywood essential services included podcasts and other bullshit. So I had to go to this studio in West Hollywood to record the audio book and it was nerve wracking, because the studio was run by this old guy and he was sneezing. And I was like, ‘What is going on?’ I’m trying to do this audio book and there’s a director in New York in your ear and I’m in Los Angeles and I’m from Canada. So he’s like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa you just said, sorry (in Canadian accent), take it again. It’s sorry.’ I go, ‘It is?’
Speaker 1 [00:32:45] You can’t use your own accent with an audio book?
Speaker 2 [00:32:47] Because my accent is so subtle when it comes up, it just sounds like I’m pronouncing things wrong. If I had a British accent, you’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, garrage.’ But with my accent, you’re like, ‘This guy doesn’t know how to pronounce things.’
Speaker 3 [00:33:00] You sound like you’re mocking yourself. Like, a bad accent of yourself.
Speaker 1 [00:33:07] Well, when I was listening audio book as I was, I was like ‘Let me go watch a clip of Charlie here. Let me go watch that Richard Pryor performance and some other ones.’ And he was so good, I was like, why are people deifying – I love Richard Pryor too. He was doing very daring material at that time and things that nobody had seen before, and Charlie Hill’s material was so daring, so funny. Why is this guy not on Mount Rushmore with all the other folks who are so often up there?
Speaker 2 [00:33:42] Again, it has to do with that that American conceit of fame versus significance. If you’re famous, you’re in the history books. It shouldn’t mean that you’re good, just because you’re famous. We know that from American culture that fame doesn’t mean quality, but it does mean attention. And so the history books focus on those who were famous. Charlie Hill was famous in indigenous communities – like very famous. Every indigenous community still to this day knows Charlie Hill.
Speaker 1 [00:34:12] Adrian’s nodding like ‘Yes. Correct.’
Speaker 2 [00:34:14] And people have stories. ‘Oh, yeah. I met him at a conference in 2011. He was so nice to me.’ Or ‘I saw him on TV. He was my parent’s favorite. That’s why I did comedy,’ like that type of story came up again and again and again every time I was researching Charlie Hill. But with white people, it never gained traction. But the Richard Pryor thing, Richard Pryor saw Charlie Hill on stage at the Comedy Store and Richard Pryor felt that Charlie Hill was doing for Native Americans what Richard Pryor was doing for African-Americans. The first time he saw Charlie Hill perform, he came up to him afterwards and he said; the quote is, ‘Mother fucker you talk to those white people like they’re dogs!’ And Richard Pryor was so excited about this, he dragged Charlie Hill into the parking lot. They smoked a joint together and this is a significant moment. They’re smoking a joint together in the parking lot and Richard Pryor says to Charlie Hill, ‘Have you done TV?’ And Charlie Hill goes, ‘No, man, I’m brand new. I’m green, I haven’t done TV.’ And Richard Pryor goes, ‘I’ll get you on.’ And he did. So Richard Pryor had this sketch show coming out in 77′ on NBC, a primetime sketch show. It had all these Comedy Store comedians, Paul Mooney casted the program and hired all these Comedy Store comedians who were all unknown (including Robin Williams, Sandra Bernhard, Marsha Warfield) and they hired Charlie Hill to do stand up on the program. He’s the only person in this very short lived series that does standup as opposed to sketch comedy and it was that famous performance that you’ve seen. Mitzi Shore from the Comedy Store was in the front row to show her moral support, and it really changed his life and established him. But it was Richard Pryor who felt a kinship with Charlie Hill and a solidarity and saw his perspective as similar to his own perspective, in terms of trying to transcend subjugation or transcend the way indigenous people had been treated or looked at or talked about. One of Charlie Hill’s key jokes, when he would open up his act (and he does it in that Richard Pryor set) I think is indicative of this. He goes, ‘My name is Charlie Hill. I’m Oneida. Probably a lot of you never knew that American Indians were stand up comedians. Well, we never thought you were too funny either.’ And that joke has so much truth to it and a lot of undercurrent there, that you could read into. So Richard Pryor and Charlie Hill had this close kinship.
Speaker 1 [00:37:03] When I was watching Charlie Hill’s work, in comparison to what you were talking about with Native American representation on television before. That is; white actors in face paint doing a parody and doing a narrative that was written by white people for white people and pandering to that sensibility. He’s up there and he’s just telling the truth from his own perspective and he’s doing it really bluntly. He’s saying, ‘Yeah, our land was stolen from us.’ Basically, that’s the premise of a bunch of his jokes.
[00:37:31] Well, that’s the title of the book, right?
[00:37:33] Yeah, exactly. ‘We had a little real estate problem.’ So to do that in the 70’s, to just say those things bluntly must have been so profound for people. The book is full of example after example of Native People saying, ‘I saw Charlie Hill and he made me realize that I could be a comedian too.’ Adrianne, did you ever have an experience like that, watching – this is such a clear example of the importance of representation. I’m curious if you ever had one of those moments yourself.
Speaker 3 [00:38:02] Yes, I was lucky because my father is a film buff and a comedy buff and at a young age, he really started schooling me in comedy; both non-native and native. And one of the first comedians he showed me was Charlie Hill and I think he was just so proud of him; that he made it to late night and was employed and doing these things. He showed me these clips and it did put in my brain ‘Oh cool, it can be done.’ Of course, the clip he showed me was from the 70’s and this was in the early 2000’s. So it was like, ‘Oh, is there not any more? OK.’ We needed an update. But with Charlie Hill, I have never personally met him but I have a lot of friends who have and one of them told me that they performed and he was in the front row taking notes on their set and then afterwards said, ‘Oh, great job. I have some notes.’ He was really supportive, and I think that’s why – With native people, I feel like we do live in a different world sometimes when it comes to media, because we will have all our famous people. They’re famous to us and they’re celebrities and if they go to a pow wow or they go to a big tribal event then they’re going to get swarmed with pictures and autographs and all that stuff. But then the rest of America has no idea who they are. So we have a subculture within America that runs pretty strong. And with Charlie Hill, I do know one thing: when I first started doing comedy, I did a magazine article. Someone interviewed me for a magazine called ‘Native Peoples,’ and they were doing little highlights of some comedians. The interviewer told me, ‘Yeah, I just got off the phone with Charlie Hill and told him that I was going to interview you and he said that he can’t wait to see you on stage killing it.’ And so for me at the beginning of my career, I was just like, ‘Wait, Charlie Hill is excited to see me?!’ It did give me a lot of hope and support and that’s been my experience; my community has been so good to me, almost to a fault. I have always said ‘You guys, I will stop telling these jokes if you guys stop encouraging me’ because they keep doing it.
Speaker 1 [00:41:06] Amazing. Well, we gotta take a really quick break. I have so much more to ask you two. We’ll be right back with more Kliph Nesteroff and Adrianne Chalepah. I want to ask you, Adrianne, you mentioned much earlier that when you were a young person before you met all those other Native folks, that you felt like an endangered species. I wonder about that dynamic a little bit because, I think I am as guilty as any white person who’s learning about this stuff for the first time to go, ‘Oh, wow. I didn’t even know. Who knew?’ All that sort of thing. What is that like for you saying, ‘Well, hold on a second, asshole. I’ve been here the whole time, we’ve been doing this. Native comics have been doing it for the entire time. You’re behind.’
Speaker 3 [00:41:58] Yeah. I mean, it’s just something you get used to as a native person because people will tell you to your face, ‘Wow, we thought you guys went extinct.’ On the one hand, I get it. The history books are super behind, so I understand that. But then also, what always bothered me about that is I think, ‘OK, so wait. You thought that there was a mass genocide, like a successful genocide, and everybody went extinct and you were OK with that? And then you said it to my face?’ So that would always give me an attitude because this is just such a weird perspective for me. To be like, ‘Yeah, we knew that your ancestors were all massacred. So what are you doing now?’ It’s just a weird kind of thing. It’s like a weird ‘How’s the weather?’ But it’s such a personal question because I do have ancestors that were in massacres and went through some really bad shit and have actively tried to heal myself from historical trauma. But the whole endangered species thing; as a teenager that’s how I felt because of our tribes: when you’re enrolled, you get little cards and the card is from the government. The first card you ever get is from the government. I felt like livestock. I felt a little bit like a prized heifer. Even our school systems, and this is true everywhere (I think it’s still this case), that a school that has a high Native American population gets money, like extra money. So they’ll have all the native students fill out paperwork to like – It’s so weird. So I’d be like, ‘I’m a really prized heifer, you guys are getting money from the government because I go to school here.’ So that was a weird thing for my head to process as a kid. I was like, ‘There’s a dollar sign on my head and there’s also a blood quantum.’
Speaker 1 [00:44:14] I’ll be honest, from what you’re describing it also sounds like that happens in the entertainment industry. Now there being much more of a focus on diversity in hiring or in casting and all these sorts of issues, and as there should be. But it strikes me, is that a similar dynamic? Where it’s like, ‘Oh, you’ve got something very valuable, your background is really good.’ Except that it’s back and forth. It’s two-faced. It’s like ‘You love me or you don’t love me.’ Does that feel strange.? Does that happen to you?
Speaker 3 [00:44:49] It’s just strange because in this country we have a fascination with native people, but the fascination comes from the romanticization of us. And so I feel like people are a little bit let down when they actually meet us because I’m a little bit of a dingy airhead sometimes. I think that’s not what they really signed up for. I think they want me in the forest, talking to spirits and doing secret things and I’m over here lost on my iPhone. I don’t know how to get back to the highway. I think they don’t know what they’re getting and they want the idea of us, they want their story, their version of us which is this mystical Indian. I have this joke about Johnny Depp because I feel like this country now, especially with the DNA tests that have all exploded. Everybody wants to be native.
Speaker 1 [00:45:54] I’ve seen the DNA tests advertised that way. One of them was running an ad that was like, ‘Oh, I found out I was part Cherokee.’ I was like, ‘This is bizarre. It’s like they’re offering people that promise of this weird fantasy thing.’
Speaker 3 [00:46:09] Yeah and then it’s like, ‘Well, what do you do with that information?’ Do you just like show up to the Cherokee tribe? And you’re like, ‘Here I am.’ You know that people do that, and every tribe is different. My tribe is actually really strict with membership. So we are an elite club. You can find whatever you want in your DNA we’ll be like ‘You weren’t us when it wasn’t cool. So you can’t sign up now.’ We’re like health insurance, we close on you. But Johnny Depp is the perfect example because (and bless his heart) but the joke goes that he wanted to be Indian, he got adopted by the Comanche tribe. This is true. He got adopted.
Speaker 1 [00:47:04] Woah.
Speaker 3 [00:47:04] Yeah. They had an adoption ceremony, the Comanches took him in and then immediately he started having money and women problems. So I was like, ‘I don’t think people really know what they’re signing up for,’ because if you really want to be native, it involves some poverty and some lateral oppression.
Speaker 1 [00:47:26] But that’s hilarious. But there’s this there’s this dynamic of people in the entertainment industry saying, ‘Hey, we need visibility and diversity; let’s make native comics visible’ or et cetera. Diversity showcases, diversity programs, hiring, things like that. But that makes it seem like there’s this impression that the entertainment industry has where it’s like, ‘Oh, we need to give these people a shot. We need to make them exist. We need to make it possible for native people to do comedy.’ Do you ever feel like, ‘Well, hold on a sec, but we were here the whole time?’
Speaker 3 [00:48:05] Yeah, it feels like a make a wish foundation gone wrong because – and I’ve literally heard this, ‘Are you Native American or disabled?’ Nothing against the people with special needs and people with disabilities. Love you, love you, love you. But it does feel like a make a wish foundation. It’s like, ‘Oh, we got a Native American. Oh, she’s from the reservation.’ It feels very charitable and I even feel like that child, I’m like, ‘You’re going to make my dreams come true?’ I think it is weird. It is and I will be that child, but it is weird. And yeah, we’ve been here the whole time and we’re going to perform regardless. That’s the thing. We’re going to keep doing our crafts, we’re going to keep performing, we’re going to keep making comedy and we’re going to make fun of everybody. And it’s just basically, ‘Do you want to be in on the joke?’ Because we’re doing it anyway. So you might as well be in on the joke.
Speaker 1 [00:49:19] Yeah, I mean, it should feel more like, ‘Hey, TV executive, do you want to be in on this cool thing that’s already happening’ rather than ‘giving someone a shot,’ but the lack of visibility for the people already there is what really leapt out to me out of the book. Kliph, so much of the book is about Will Rogers, which I did not expect; one of the most famous celebrated American humorists up there with Mark Twain. I didn’t know before reading the book that he was Cherokee and that was a major part of his identity and his perspective. I’m no expert in Will Rogers, but I feel like that would have, that should have, come up.
Speaker 2 [00:50:01] Yeah. And just to distinguish for your listeners, he was not a white guy pretending to be a Cherokee or one of these people saying ‘I’m one sixteenth Cherokee.’ When Will Rogers wrote about anything to do with indigenous rights whatsoever (if you look at his newspaper columns at the height of his fame in the 1920’s) he says, ‘We Indians, us Cherokee,’ he’s always saying we or us. He’s not saying they or them. So he always identified as Cherokee and he was raised in (what in those days) they called Indian territory. Later it became Oklahoma. His ancestors; his grandparents and great grandparents, were involved in the Trail of Tears. It’s in the book, but there’s a convoluted history where his grandparents took a deal with the White House to move willingly instead of what happened with the Trail of Tears. Anyways. Yeah, Will Rogers was Native American. You still hear his name referenced all the time, and you would think that at the same time they would reference the fact that he was this prominent indigenous celebrity and it’s never mentioned; it’s completely whitewashed. So you talk about erasure, Will Rogers wasn’t erased but his entire back story was and he was rebranded as this white, all-American, simple, homespun cowboy. When they mention Will Rogers (and I don’t know who ‘they’ is, but through the lexicon of whenever he’s mentioned) he’s often referenced as simple; the simple American or the simple, homespun cowboy and I’m like ‘The dude was indigenous, born in 1879, then becomes the most famous celebrity on earth. Could not be more complex.’ But they rebrand him as simplistic. A really, really interesting and complicated character. I myself didn’t know that much about him before I started researching him. I knew that he was Native American, but I too was brainwashed by this version that made me not want to be interested in him when I was writing my previous book, because the way he sold to us is as this boring simpleton. Everybody likes him; a great American wit. And then they quote these lines that make no sense. ‘Never met a man I didn’t like.’ Well, where’s the funny part? Where’s the joke part? Where’s the wit part, it’s just a sentence and what the fuck does that mean? ‘Never met a man I didn’t like,’ why is that famous? And then when I looked into it, I found out the reason it was famous is because they put that quote on a postage stamp in 1952; a Will Rogers postage stamp. That’s what made that quote famous. So it wasn’t because people thought it was this brilliant quip. There’s so much about Will Rogers but I think it’s telling, the fact this guy is the most famous celebrity of his time. There’s still things named after him everywhere. Here in Los Angeles, there’s Will Rogers State Park and a Will Rogers Beach and a Will Rogers museum. In Oklahoma, there’s all kinds of highways and things named after Will Rogers and everywhere: there’s hospitals etc. So people know the name, but seldom is his indigenous back story included and in my mind, you would think that would be the number one thing that they would mention. Especially, because this goes back to that thing I was saying about Hollywood and diversity: if somebody is the (and this is not to disparage any other person) first prominent African-American to do something, that’ll be the first thing that we mention about that person. With Rodgers, his indigenous back story is like the last thing that’s mentioned.
Speaker 1 [00:53:50] It’s like if nobody mentioned that Jackie Robinson was black or something like that.
Speaker 2 [00:53:54] Yeah, it is like that. So, it’s sort of strange. I tried to recalibrate his position in the book. Most of the book is not me actually writing, it’s me just quoting people I talk to. For instance, Adrianne talks about blood quantum in the book, and the first time I talk to Adrianne over the phone, I was like ‘I don’t think a lot of white people even know what the phrase “blood quantum” means.’
Speaker 1 [00:54:18] Is it a James Bond movie, that’s what it sounds like to me.
Speaker 3 [00:54:23] Yeah, I like that better.
Speaker 2 [00:54:26] So when I talk to agents for the first time, I was like, ‘Could you explain for the white people at home; blood quantum, in your own words? What is it? What are the problems behind it, (if any) of the history of it, blah, blah, blah, blah? What should people know about blood quantum?’ And so that’s what’s in the book. It’s not me explaining blood quantum, it’s Adrianne explaining blood quantum verbatim. I just quoted her. So I did that for the majority of the book. For somebody like Will Rogers from the past, I researched his life and I curated every single line I could find in his writings about Native Americans; which were quite a lot. I’m proud of the fact that I was able to put them all in one place in his own words; here’s Will Rogers talking about being Cherokee or where he’s from and his attitudes about different native issues. I don’t think that had been done before. So I’m proud to have done that.
Speaker 1 [00:55:18] It’s such an inversion of – literally the only thing I knew about him was that he was the cowboy comedian and I was like, ‘No, I should have known that he was the Cherokee comedian.’ But I guess part of it is also America’s erasure of the fact that there were Native American cowboys as well, that we separated those two things out.
Speaker 2 [00:55:38] Yeah, the attitude is always the stereotype. If you don’t fit the stereotype, then you can’t be in.
Speaker 1 [00:55:44] Yeah. How could he be Cherokee, he was a cowboy?
Speaker 2 [00:55:47] Yeah, he’s wearing a cowboy hat instead of feathers. How could he possibly be? That is such a ridiculous conceit, but that is sort of the conceit. He himself never said that he wasn’t. He used to bill himself when he was touring in vaudeville as the Cherokee Kid: Will Rogers, the Cherokee Kid. That was his initial billing when he was touring around. So he never hid it. He was an enrolled member and in 1906, he received a payment of reparations for land that he lost, that his family lost during the Dawes Act of 1887. So he was very much a prominent Native American figure.
Speaker 1 [00:56:29] Wow. There’s so many stories like this in this book, I really recommend people checking it out. I’m curious to ask either of you, do you feel that this historical erasure, this lack of visibility, is this changing at all? Given there’s been so much talk in Hollywood about these issues? Do you feel, Adrianne I see you making a face, so I’m curious to know what you’ll say. Do you feel that the positive movement has been made or is it all optics?
Speaker 3 [00:57:02] Yes, I can say it is changing because all at one time last year (I think) there were three shows with native writers that all got green lit at the same time with native main characters and then one that I had the pleasure of working on is called Rutherford Falls and –
Speaker 1 [00:57:33] Oh, it’s so good.
Speaker 3 [00:57:35] Yeah, it was funny because I was listening to Sierra Teller Ornelas talk about the process and everything; they were talking about how they had a wealth of talent, because in the past executives and big wigs were like, ‘Well, we can’t make a show like this. We don’t have this, we don’t have that and blah, blah, blah, blah.’ They just proved that completely wrong. They had so much talent to draw upon and things are definitely changing. It’s almost like we’ve just been waiting for the chance to pounce and tell our stories and that time is here and now. It was weird, it was like I went from getting no auditions and nobody would call me back, and it was just this weird thing where – and I was used to it. I’m cool with rejection and then all of a sudden, a bunch of auditions and a bunch of characters and a lot of stories. And I was like, ‘This is weird. This is happening,’ so it’s pretty cool. And I think it’s just going to keep happening and what really changed for me, is when Rick Santorum got fired from CNN and let me tell you why: because in the past, you could be anybody and you could say anything racist about natives at any point and your job would never be on the line. Your political career would never be on the line. There were literally no repercussions to trashing or being racist to natives and then this was the first time where I saw the political power actually take place. It has a lot to do with our organizing and that we’re here and we’re paying attention and we have Twitter accounts. But also, people don’t know that Arizona got flipped to blue in part because of natives. Natives helped flip Arizona to a Democratic state because they have a lot of numbers and they voted and that’s what happened and they organized. Things are changing, where where the visibility is there but it’s like, ‘Do you want to see it?’ Because even when we flipped Arizona, CNN was doing the demographics (white voters, black voters, Latino etc) and then they did a graphic for natives that said something else. But they wouldn’t even list us. So now the joke in Indian Country is like, “Oh, yeah, I’m a proud something else,’ because this is the shit that we deal with. Even when we organize and we vote and we have a big voice and we are doing big things; media networks will be like ‘We can’t quite figure out what these people are and what they’re doing. Oh, they’re something else.’ Anyway, that’s the big joke. Things are changing. Now I love it that people are having to be like, ‘Wait, can we not say pow wow anymore?’ No, you can’t! Now you’re going to get roasted. People are going to make fun of you.
Speaker 1 [01:01:06] Well, that’s the best response, right? To be roasted, just to know that someone’s going to come make fun of you is – that’s the best justice in the situation; for your ignorance. Rick Santorum getting fired; him getting made fun of is the best part. What a dumb ass thing to say.
Speaker 3 [01:01:27] Yeah, it’s the least they can – it’s not like it used to be. My answer is I’m Kiowa and Apache, OK? We used to literally circle the wagons and burn them. We took all the supplies and we burned them and it was so bad that the military had to come in and put up a Fort. Fort Sill is what it’s called, right next to us to keep an eye on us because we were very upset. So we’re not burning wagons anymore. So the least that we could do is roast and not burn wagons, and that’s where we’re at.
Speaker 2 [01:02:06] I will say though, you said that the best thing is to make fun of Rick Santorum. I do think that him getting fired is the best thing. Yeah, he was getting made fun of for 3 weeks and then they finally fired the cocksucker. But a lot of us were waiting for that son of a bitch to be fired and it seemed to be taking forever. At the exact same week that Rick Santorum made those comments (I think it was on a Tuesday or at least that video came out on a Tuesday), that Sunday I was in a new show on CNN called ‘Story of Late Night,’ and I was proud to be in the show and I wanted to promote the show. And here I have this book that is all about the history of the Rick Santorums and the fuckery that they engage in, and I was very torn. This is going to sound really flippant, obviously I have no idea what it is like to be indigenous in America. But for a week I felt this fucking terror inside of me where I was like, ‘Do I fucking burn my bridges to speak out? Do I stay silent because I want to be on TV?’ I was totally torn apart with a crisis of conscience, knowing the subject matter and the premise of my new book. And am I a hypocrite for not doing more? I’m on CNN and they’re the ones that are paying this son of a bitch who’s spreading this racist disinformation, which I supposedly as a decent white ally am speaking out against. So I had all this shit swirling around my mind and my conscience, and it was a weird and awkward series of weeks. All the making fun of Rick Santorum was small comfort for me where I was just like, ‘What is the solution?’ And I think everybody now, because of corporate consolidation; a lot of us are working for the devil, essentially. You boycott CNN, you’re boycotting AT&T. AT&T owns HBO. They own this, they own that and then what are your other options? You got HBO, Viacom, Comcast, Disney or NewsCorp, all cocksucking corporations. This book is published by Simon and Schuster. They’re owned by Viacom. They just gave a book deal to Mike Pence. They gave two million dollars to John Bolton.
Speaker 3 [01:04:25] I feel the same way when I go to Chick fil A. We got to pick our poisons, you know?
Speaker 1 [01:04:33] Well, the fact that there is some change happening here is very encouraging. How do you suggest (I look here for both of you) how folks at home can participate in it, how they can – what are your favorite native comics that they should check out and how how can they go see it? How can they be a part of this?
Speaker 3 [01:04:57] OK, I say just follow comedians; follow causes and stay educated and if you think you know then you probably don’t. So do a little more research and just stay informed and stay in touch and literally just follow people. If they have a show go buy a ticket, because of most this happens because – When I was doing the casino circuit (and these are native casinos, these are Owned By Native casinos) their loyalty is not to give their people show gigs, their loyalty is to make money. So they’re like, ‘Well, how many people can you bring in?’ and all that stuff. If you just go to a show, honestly, that’s doing the bare minimum or buy something. Buy the product and just support it that way. That’s the bare minimum wage to support. But also my venmo is open.
Speaker 1 [01:06:04] What is it?
Speaker 3 [01:06:06] Oh it’s Adrianne-Chalepah. I do have 4 kids. I like to guilt people so, I do have 4 kids. Kliph, you know a lot of comedians, you could plug some.
Speaker 1 [01:06:24] Yeah Kliph, how do you break out of that narrow comedy canon and find the cool shit that you know so much about?
Speaker 2 [01:06:32] Well, there’s a mini renaissance happening right now; of indigenous artists. I think it’s a cliche to say that people stand on the shoulders of those who came before. But right now, there’s this interesting confluence of indigenous artists who are also informed by popular culture. So there’s more than one native ComicCon out there. There’s brilliant indigenous visual artists, hip hop, all these sort of confluences. The cover of the book for ‘We Had a Little Real Estate Problem’ is designed by Ryan Redcorn and his group: Buffalo Nickel Creative; who are visual designers who do gorgeous work. Their posters are amazing. I was really flattered that Ryan offered to do the cover for the book, and I was really happy to have an indigenous artist do the cover because when I got the book deal, I had all this fear and l was like, ‘Are they going to assign some white person to do the cover?’ And it’s going to be like a stereotypical image on the cover of the book, all these things. And ‘Am I rocking the boat too much if I demand the publisher hire native photographers and indigenous artists?’ I want them to but I also don’t want to be a pain in the ass in the sense that, ‘Oh, we don’t want to work with this guy,’ and even when I’m promoting this book: the funny thing is (and I got to give you guys credit that I didn’t have to say anything and nobody else had to say anything) sometimes I’ll do a show like this and they just book me. It’s two white hosts; well-meaning white liberals talking about representation and diversity and it’s three fucking white people talking. And I’m like (and I don’t mean to be an asshole) but every time they ask me the question, I’m like, ‘Are you going to book a native guest? Like, is this going to go live to tape or are we going to stop and you can book somebody else?’ And I’ve done that a bunch of times, just reach out to the people that are in this book and talk to them first. Talk to me second. People just don’t think, even well-meaning people and that’s indicative of American culture; you’re just not aware. So you want to be more aware? You want to support native artists? There’s a lot out there you can follow. Illuminatives, Buffalo Nickel Creative, Adrianne, the 1491’s
Speaker 1 [01:08:45] The 1491’s are great, we didn’t even talk about them
Speaker 1 [01:08:47] Yeah, you can consult the index of this book and find all kinds of different names. Also watch these shows that are coming out. Rutherford Falls is streaming on Peacock. It’s a really funny show. I really enjoyed it because I was able to catch in-jokes and references that before this book I may not have. The show operates on two different levels: If you’re a non native or if you’re a native, it’s going to be more enriching for indigenous people to watch this show because there are jokes there that everybody will get that a white audience might not.
Speaker 1 [01:09:19] I love that because I’ve seen this show and I love it. And now I love that there’s a layer that I don’t know about that makes me want to go watch it again or maybe someone’s written a breakdown anywhere; because when there’s an in-joke, I want to understand it. I want to get inside the joke. No offense, but that’s my attitude.
Speaker 2 [01:09:38] There’s even insidier stuff in Rutherford Falls that’s not even a joke, but when the lead one of the lead characters is complemented by an elder, there’s this really beautiful, sweet scene about how meaningful it is to her and how it’s more meaningful than something else (being praised by a celebrity or something like that) for this for this character. I don’t know, it’s just a really interesting show on multiple levels and revolutionary in the sense that it’s got a mostly indigenous cast, mostly indigenous writers room, and is just a funny, strong show like 30 Rock or Parks and Rec, that style of comedy. They’re going to love Rutherford Falls, but it’s introducing an important and valuable point of view that has been absent from popular culture for as long as anything. Watch Rutherford Falls. There’s a show coming out called Reservation Dogs on FX that Sterling Harjo and Taiki Watiti have o-created. If you like Jojo Rabbit, if you like the 1491’s ones then check out that show. It hasn’t come out yet, but it looks like it’s going to be great. Yeah, there’s just a mini renaissance happening right now of indigenous art and creativity and you’re going to find good stuff no matter who you are, no matter what your tastes are. If you put in the effort to seek it out, you’re going to find some good things.
Speaker 1 [01:11:03] Yeah, I mean, there’s just a whole world of stuff out there that – bust out of your box and go find it. I can’t thank you both enough for coming on the show. The book is called one more time: “We Had a Little Real Estate Problem.’ You can pick up a copy at factuallypod.com/books if you want to support the show and your local bookstore. And Adrianne, plug your shit. Where can people go find more about you and see your comedy?
Speaker 3 [01:11:28] I’m on Twitter, @AdrianneComedy, Instagram @AdrianneChalepah. I just started a tiktok, I don’t know what I’m doing. The content is really poor. Also I have a website. It’s chalepah.com and I’m a screenwriter. I’m getting my master’s in screenwriting. So I do a lot and I’m everywhere. I’m everywhere and nowhere, mmm think about that. So thank you so much. Thank you so much
Speaker 1 [01:11:59] Okay so look for Adrianne Chalepah everywhere and nowhere. Kliph Nesteroff, thank you so much. Thank you, guys. Well, thank you once again to Kliph and Adrianne for coming on the show. The book once again is called ‘We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans and Comedy’ and if you want to get a copy, you can pick it up at factuallypod.com/books. That’s factuallypod.com/books and when you do, you’ll be supporting not just this show, but your local bookstore as well. That is it for us this week on Factually. I want to thank our producers Chelsea Jacobson and Sam Roudman, and Andrew Carson; our engineer. Andrew W.K. for our theme song. The fine folks at Falcon Northwest for building me the incredible custom gaming PC that I’m recording this very episode on. You can check it out for yourself at falconnorthwest.com. And hey, if you want to send me an email or comment about the show, you can send it to factually@AdamConover.net. I do read every single email that you sent and you can find me online at AdamConover.Net or on social media @AdamConover wherever you get your social media. Until next time, thank you so much for listening to Factually. We will see you next week.
July 26, 2022
How can we best help animals, when it’s we humans who cause their suffering? Animal Crisis authors Alice Crary and Lori Gruen join Adam to explain how the same systems that hurt and kill animals also harm humans. They discuss the human rights abuses that happen in industrial slaughterhouses and how palm oil monocrops are devastating the world’s rainforests. They also share how we can have solidarity with animals in our daily lives. You can purchase their book at http://factuallypod.com/books
July 19, 2022
In times of turmoil, it can be useful to take a longer view of history. Like, a LOT longer. Paleontologist and author of “The Rise and Reign of the Mammals” Stephen Brusatte joins Adam to explain how mammals took over the Earth hundreds of millions of years ago, and why we survived and achieve sentience when dinosaurs died out. Stephen goes on to discuss why taking a deep look at our history can help prepare us for the crises of the near future. You can purchase Stephen’s book at http://factuallypod.com/books
July 13, 2022
Trans people have existed as long as, you know, people have. But the barriers to legal inclusion and equality are still higher than most people realize. “Sex is as Sex Does” author Paisley Currah joins Adam to discuss why institutions have been slow to give legal recognition to trans identities, why Republicans have shifted their attacks from bathroom policies to trans youth in sports, and why the struggle for trans equality is tied to feminism and women’s liberation. You can purchase Paisley’s book at http://factuallypod.com/books