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Comedians bond over dirty jokes
It was a chance meeting in Victoria in 2007 that brought aboriginal comedians Brian Majore and Dawn Dumont together.
“We were contacted to perform for a TV show called The New Canoe and they were having an aboriginal night ... and they also brought in two comedians and because we were the two comedians we kind of bonded over that,” Majore said.
Following their encounter, Majore and Dumont decided to form a comedy act called The Rez Jesters and have since seen a few members come and go. Majore said it was dirty humour that formed his bond with Dumont.
“We bonded over masturbation jokes,” he said laughing.
The Rez Jesters, which includes Majore, Dumont, Chris Gaskin and MC Beverly O’Neil, will be cracking jokes of all kinds at the Queens on Friday (Feb. 21).
“We bill ourselves as native comedians and you know we do talk about it [about being aboriginal] but it isn’t exclusively for native audiences,” Majore said. “Dawn and I and Beverley have created our act in comedy clubs. We do talk about being native and native things but everyone can relate to them.”
Majore has performed throughout Canada at a handful of various events and comedy clubs. Dumont has previously performed at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. She has also appeared on CBC’s The Debaters and co-hosted Fish Out of Water on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Gaskin has been featured on Laugh Attack, which can be heard on SiriusXM.
It wasn’t long ago that aboriginal standup comedy was relatively unheard of in Canada.
“Even as early as 10 years ago there were maybe two or three native comedians that I knew of. So it was such a surprise to meet Dawn and find out that she was native as well,” Majore said. “It started emerging in the last few years.”
Candy Palmater, Ryan McMahon, Lorne Cardinal, Don Burnstick and Howie Miller are just a handful of aboriginal jokers in the ever growing industry. Majore, who is considered a veteran in the industry, said that there is a downside to the ever increasing number of aboriginal comedians.
“There is a danger of overlap of material. There is only certain things that we can talk about being native. You got to find your own take on it,” Majore said. “That’s a big danger. I’ve heard a lot of jokes from native comedians about Indian names. I even have one as my opening joke ... A lot of native comedians will make jokes like ‘they call me Walking Eagle because I’m too fat to fly’ and stuff like that. So there is a lot overlap when it comes to stuff like that and you need to find your own take on it.”
Majore’s pathway to standup comedy began when he was studying indigenous humour at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George.
“I took this course on indigenous humour at the university and we had to do a performance instead of a final exam. So when we got into pairs or groups I was left on my own and I didn’t know what to do.”
That’s when Majore decided he would do a standup comedy routine for his performance.
“After the first performance I was hooked,” he said. “People said I should keep going so that’s what I did.”
Majore, who aced his final performance and the course, has since released a CD and toured across the country.
Tickets to the Rez Jesters are $20.
Please visit www.facebook.com/therezjesters for more information.