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Colby Cosh: The fascinating universe of Aboriginal comedy – National Post
by ahnationtalk on May 18, 202163 Views
May 18, 2021
Kliph Nesteroff is a Doukhobor from South Slocan, B.C., who has met with an improbable fate: he has become one of the most important and talented historians of North American comedy. A few weeks back, I got a review copy of his new book, “We Had a Little Real Estate Problem.” It’s a Nesteroff-style account of the underappreciated history and role of First Nations people in standup, improv and the other major channels of comic media in our American culture (meaning “American” in the broad sense).
I decided that I wasn’t sure whether the material was promising, but also that Nesteroff couldn’t write a bad book if you kicked him in the head and cut off his thumbs. I’m pleased to report very smugly that the last half of this estimate has proved true. No fans of Nesteroff’s uncanny interviewing of old-time comics or readers of his 2015 book “The Comedians” will have doubted it.
So the high quality of the book imposes a duty on me to persuade other readers, people who may not be comedy nerds or Nesteroff fans, that it’s worthwhile. A major theme of the book itself is that the First Nations almost invariably appear in our culture as objects of pity — as victims of a continuing, even sickeningly inevitable series of outrages by governments and businesses. If you buy a book about Aboriginal comedians — especially by a Canadian! — it’s natural to expect it to be both laboriously political and full of doomed, pathetic people.
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