Observations: British humour goes Native
Friday 01 May 2009
Chuquai Billy is the only Native American stand-up in the UK. A comedian from the Lakota Sioux/Choctaw Nation of New Mexico – he describes living on the reservation as "Wales, without the rain" – Chuquai came to England a few times in the early 1990s, initially to visit a penpal, but has since settled here permanently and has become a regular on the comedy circuit.
Chuquai started stand-up as a way of impressing a girl at an open spot night at the Comedy Store in LA. "I didn't get the girl," he says. "But I got laughs." His consequent pursuit of comedy has been, he says, encouraged by folk in his home community. "They want me to go out and tell the truth about how we actually are – not the romantic or Western fiction stereotypes," he explains.
Chuquai characterises Native American life in a number of ways, emphasising the different world view it takes on topics from religion ("We don't talk about spiritual things, we just do them. European people who come over and go to ceremonies once or twice and then resell them to New Agers piss us off!") to time ("We don't understand why people are on time or want to do things quickly, we feel they are missing out on stuff"). He regularly opens his set by calling America "the occupied territory", adding, "You think you've got problems with immigration..."
Chuquai's main aim is to quash stereotypes: "We want to be able to chat about the world economy and not be asked what it's like to live in a teepee. Oh, and you know that thing in the movies where we turn into birds and vanish? We can't really do that."
Soho Theatre, Dean Street, London W1. 8 & 9 May (020-7478 0100; www. originsfestival.com)
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant