There were a lot of adjectives attributed to Native people. Lacking among them was funny. Savage irony and morbid humour did sometimes enter the picture as a kind of self-flagellation device for whites, but on the whole, Natives were treated by almost everyone with the utmost gravity, as if they were either too awe-inspiring as blood-curdling savages or too sacrosanct in their status of holy victim to allow any comic reactions either of them or by them.
– Margaret Atwood
That’s right… funny Indians. You got a problem with that?
– Charlie Hill
Substance abuse, suicide, ill health, poor housing conditions, historical grievances. When assigned an Indigenous news story, it’s not surprising some reporters want to hide under their desk. It’s all so… dreary.
To read our newspapers or watch our news programs, one might get the impression there’s little more to Indigenous life than desolation and misery. When Indians come on the news, who blames a reader for turning the page or a viewer for switching the channel?
Indeed, the image of Indians as tragic and stoic is so well entrenched, the title of this section may strike you as odd.
What’s so funny about Indians?
Actually, humour is an intrinsic part of life in Indigenous communities. You’ll find your stories will improve if you employ humour in the field. Heck — go crazy! Maybe even include some humour in your story!
Humour in The News
Before discussing Indian humour, a quick word to journalists who consider it sacrilege to use humour in news stories.
Canadians flock in great numbers to political satire shows – such as The Rick Mercer Report, or This Hour Has 22 Minutes, or American programs such as The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – and that should be an indication to every journalist that we need to lighten up. Reporters or anchors don’t need to start cracking one-liners, but we need to consider how our audience is increasingly looking to satire and drama as a way to engage in political debate. Furthermore, if we’re going to fully use mediums such as television to their fullest, humour is but one more powerful arrow in a storyteller’s quiver.