This essential and undervalued history of Native Americans in humor comes to us courtesy of Kliph Nesteroff, who Vice magazine has called “the human encyclopedia of comedy.”
It was one of the jokes in Charlie Hill’s stand-up routine that could always be counted on to get a laugh: “My people are from Wisconsin. We originally hail from the Big Apple. We ran into a minor issue with the property we were renting.”
In his book, “We Had a Little Real Estate Problem,” the renowned comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff focuses on one of the most significant and little-known stories in the history of comedy.
Specifically, Kliph examines the manner in which Native Americans have influenced and advanced the art form of comedy despite being denied representation in the entertainment industry.
The story begins in the late 1880s, during a time period in which indigenous people were coerced into performing in wild west shows as an alternative to being sent to jail.
(A contemporary comic described the situation as “as if an inmate from Guantanamo suddenly had to participate on X-Factor.”)
After this, a comprehensive analysis of the lives and careers of significant characters such as the Cherokee comedian Will Rogers and Hill, who, in the 1970s, was the first Native American comedian to perform on The Tonight Show, is presented.
There are also profiles of several contemporary comedians, such as Jonny Roberts, a social worker from the Red Lake Nation who drives five hours to the closest comedy club to pursue his dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian;
Adrianne Chalepah, a Kiowa-Apache comic who formed the touring group the Native Ladies of Comedy; and the 1491s, a sketch troupe whose satire is smashing stereotypes to critical acclaim.
According to Osage member of the 1491s Ryan Red Corn, who says, “The American narrative mandates that Indians are meant to be sorrowful. It is not truly accurate, and it is not representative of the experience of living in the community itself…
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The Native American culture places a strong emphasis on humor and happiness.
We Had a Little Real Estate Problem is an eloquent homage to a subject that has received little attention, and it achieves this by including dozens of new interviews and Nesteroff’s signature meticulous research.
Interesting Excerpts from We Had a Little Real Estate Problem
There are portions in this wonderful piece every reader should have at least a glance at.
These portions captured hugely the theme of the work.
Below are excerpts of those portions from We Had a Little Real Estate Problem:
Patiently go through them and enjoy the reading.
Jonny Roberts drives five hours to and from every performance. Jonny Roberts drives five hours to and from every performance.
A difficult five-hour travel is required for an Ojibwe social worker and part-time stand-up comic in the Red Lake Nation to reach the nearest open-mic night.
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Jonny Roberts bids farewell to his wife, two daughters, and eight small foster children before beginning this arduous routine. Roberts is travelling to Minneapolis to perform for a crowd that may or may not show up.
The ten-hour round-trip journey is the only opportunity for this comedian from a Native American reserve to gain stage time.
His 2004 Chevrolet Silverado has broken down after he racked up several hundred thousand miles travelling huge distances between gigs. Roberts believes that the transmission is likely dead.
This afternoon, he borrows his wife’s black Dodge Nitro and drives in the direction of Highway 89. Roberts states, “It’s predominantly farmland all the way to Saint Cloud, Minnesota.”
There are a few malls and gas stations, but in general there is a great deal of nothing. As he passes the water tower bearing the emblem of the Red Lake Nation, he stops at the Red Lake Trading Post to fill up.
It will cost $120 to transport him to and from the performance, which will last seven minutes and pay nothing.
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Red Lake encompasses 800,000 acres of predominantly flat terrain. Roberts grew up in this city, avidly taping stand-up artists from television and stockpiling VHS recordings from the 1980s comedy boom.
His only option is to commute. Few of his neighbors share his enthusiasm. “They’ve attempted comedy events at this casino, but it’s difficult to attract an audience.
There is little demand for comedy events in this area and few opportunities to perform. Therefore, I travel the 260 miles for the experience.”
Red Lake is resilient, yet the reserve suffers from intergenerational trauma in the form of substance abuse and suicide.
According to a survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and Education, 48 percent of high school females had attempted suicide and 81 percent have considered it.
In a community with less than 2,000 residents, friends, neighbors, and relatives are affected. As a social worker, Roberts is all too familiar with the challenges at hand.
As he approaches the highway, he passes a series of homemade billboards created by local students as part of a school assignment: UP WITH HOPE—DOWN WITH DRUGS and IT’S LIFE—OR METH.
He stops for a restroom break in Bemidji, Minnesota, thirty miles into his drive. Down the way stands an eighteen-foot-tall statue. Since 1937, thousands of postcards have featured the roadside attraction known as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, which is made of concrete and plaster.
Now equipped with a bag of boxed popcorn, Roberts exits the city via U.S. Route 2 while fumbling with a phone cord. He plays a playlist of podcasts, including WTF with Marc Maron, Urban Indianz with Gabriel Night Shield,
Red Man Laughing with Ryan McMahon, and the Monday Morning Podcast with Bill Burr. He still has four hours to go.
As the sun is sinking in Minneapolis, he enters the Spring Street Tavern, where fifteen young comedians are roaming about.
There are nine individuals in the group. Roberts is seated in a corner, reviewing a notepad while erasing and adding topics.
Tonight is his first appearance on stage in forty-seven days.
After 90 minutes, he is onstage delivering jokes. “I think it’s wonderful that Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner,” he tells the tiny audience.
“However, I believe she should not have chosen a female name. That is, she is seventy years old. Are you kidding me? Her proper name is Gladys.”
After the performance, the other open-mic comedians are smoking joints and discussing their next engagement, but Roberts has already left.
He must transport all of his children to day care in the morning. He has a five-hour trip ahead of him at 11 p.m.
Roberts states, “I’ve been performing stand-up comedy for eight years.” Occasionally, I believe I should simply give up.
Compared to his counterparts in Los Angeles and New York, Roberts has less stage experience. A comic with eight years of experience may perform every night in New York.
A hard-working individual can perform as many as six concerts in a single evening. Roberts is fortunate to perform once per month. This makes it difficult to proceed.
The majority of open-mic hopefuls are aged between eighteen and twenty-three. Roberts is in early middle age. Certainly an old age, he says.
“Although it was reported that Rodney Dangerfield returned to comedy at the age of forty-four, this has not been confirmed. Consequently, it is always in the back of my mind.
A portion of his ambition is driven by his desire to leave his job, and the things he has witnessed as a social worker have left him shaken. “I just want to leave the stuff I’ve read in the files behind.
I just want to get away from what I see every day…. I’m not sure how much longer I can endure this… I have no outlet.” Roberts hopes stand-up comedy is the solution.
We Had a Little Real Estate Problem Publication Details
We Had A Little Real Estate Problem was published by Simon & Schuster on February 15, 2022.
It was publish with ISBN13: 9781982103057anf it has a length of 336 pages.
How Much is We Had a Little Real Estate Problem Sold? $23.27
In amazon, this book is placed at $23.27 for those who needs the hardcover.
It is shipped to whoever orders it within 2 to 5 days depending on the location of the person and the order method chosen by the buyer.
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Who is the author of We Had a Little Real Estate Problem?
Meet Kliph Nesteroff, the man behind We Had a Little Real Estate Problem.
Nesteroff is someone to know about. Get a glimpse of his biography here.
Kliph Nesteroff spent his childhood years in a peaceful neighborhood in the countryside of British Columbia.
After being banned from high school for life due to the substance of a speech he delivered while running for school president, he relocated to Toronto and began performing stand-up comedy there.
anti-war upbringing, along with his affinity for the Beat Generation and punk rock music, led to him mostly performing at underground bars, punk rock clubs, and alternative comedy venues.
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He was also a musician. It didn’t take long for him to amass a devoted fan base for the antagonistic insult comic character Shecky Grey, and as a result, he was featured on the front cover of a number of Canadian free weeklies.
After performing stand-up comedy for eight years, Nesteroff transitioned into a career as an advocate for the homeless, the mentally ill, and those who were addicted to drugs.
accepted a position in an experimental clinic that nursed addicts with life-threatening infections back to health. Nesteroff’s mission was to restore addicts to full health.
While working night shifts at the clinic, Nesteroff spent a significant portion of his time writing about stand-up comedians from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
More specifically, he focused on the mafia-run nightclubs that used to hire comedians.
The web-magazine that is associated with the free form radio station WFMU publishes the articles on a regular basis.
In 2011, Marc Maron began discussing Nesteroff’s essays on multiple episodes of his WTF podcast. Eventually, Maron invited Nesteroff to appear on his program after extending an invitation to Nesteroff to do the same.
Following an appearance by Nesteroff on WTF with Marc Maron in 2012, Grove Press offered him a book contract to write the definitive history of American stand-up comedy in the 20th century.
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The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, and Scoundrels and the History of American Comedy was first published in 2015 and quickly became a best-selling book, which ultimately led to a career in television.
Talking head appearances by Nesteroff are commonplace on a wide variety of comedic television shows and documentaries.