Saturday, May 15, 2010
Indian humour what the heck.
Just wondering if we can pin down what Indian humour is. Is it the self-deprecating humour? You know the type of humour and jokes that put ourselves down. There is the one story of the Russian fellow that came hunting in Canada. They were out hunting in the bush, when the Russian and his guide came across an Indian running past a clearing. The guide shot the Indian. The Russian was shocked. The guide told him, it's okay we're allowed to shoot Indians up here. As they arrived back to their bush cabin, they spotted an Indian running away from the cabin with a six pack of beer. The Russian quickly sighted and shot the Indian. The guide said, "what the heck you do that for, we're going to get in trouble!". The Russian, said "you said it was alright to shoot Indians up here?" The guide said,"yeah, but you can't bait them!"
Or is Indian humour that toilet humour (double entendre :-)): "That damn bar uses John Wayne toilet paper!, What's that? It's rough and tough and don't take no shit from Indians." Or is it blue humour, the kind you don't use in public, but do anyways. Or is it slapstick, sarcasm, satire, or non-sense? Is it the type of joke where we say "do women like it when you screw them?" And the old guy answers, "well, put your finger in your ear and move it around?" Or is it like a deadpan, "no disrespect, but your short, fat, bald and ugly!"
I am not sure, but Indian humour could be a host of all those things mixed together. You fall down, and people laugh. Like when we were out rice picking and my Dad called my brother-in-law Smiley by our dog's name, Leroy. Or when my brother was thrown head over heals down a rock embankment off the 3 wheeler. He was flung in the air like he got tossed over the top rope of a wrestling ring. He could have died, as he landed on a big pile of jagged rocks, but I still turned to Smiley and laughed like it was a scene from the three stooges.
Humour has become a defense mechanism for all sorts of people, non-Indians included. I remember when I listened to the Columbia shuttle explosion. The joke came out not too long after, "What does NASA stand for? Need Another Seven Astronauts." It was some morbid and black humour. Some say that is a way to deal with tragedy. Like as young guys we used to hear the older guys tease each other "you got bad thoughts, Tigha?(not sure what the real word is, it's French)" This was a reference to the infamous Father Palmado, who used to wash the boys in residential school. The priest would tell the boys that they had bad thoughts so he washed them, thoroughly.
I remember when my Friend Merv had passed away. The Wake was taking place at his brother's place. Merv's new girl-friend was there as well. I was teasing and talking to her a bit. It was fun. I turned to Merv's brother and told him, "jease, Merv's not even cold yet and she's hitting on me." He laughed. That was good.
Or humour could be used to make fun our selves and our mortality, like when Marcel Guibouche talks about age:"Holy heck, everyone is getting so old, even my kids are older than me".
Not sure if you could pin down Indian humour but it's sure is a fun thing to have. Or could Indian humour be those slack jokes or puns we all try to get away with, and maybe even some gross stuff. Like this guy from our Reserve was having sex with this woman from another Reserve. She had the big Indian accent and Ojibway is her first language. Anyway they were going at it, when he "slipped" (actually his "thing" slipped). She yells at him, "kawiin imaa".(it slipped into her bum hole, so she said "not there".
With Indian Humour there is no shyness when it comes to body functions and sex; even bad sex or forbidden sex. People also are big into teasing. Teasing is fundamental part of Indian Humour. Teasing is not limited to a setting. You can be in mid-prayer at a Ceremony and someone might tease you. Mostly tease you after you finished speaking of course. Indian humour can be lost on many people, even other Indians. One thing is about Indian it seems to be a staple with Indigenous folks. Like the Moari and the Aborigine of Australia.
Just recently I had the opportunity and the solemn task of saying the Eulogy for an Elder and a friend who died. There was a lot of hurt among the family and it was a very stressful situation for the family. I spoke of the Elder but mostly poked fun at some of our shared memories. It was not a eulogy of speaking about how great he was but how much fun we had. I looked out in the crowd and said "I see many of you in the crowd today and you would have to pay people to go to your funeral." It didn't go off as I would have thought. I was trying to tease the crowd but they may have felt I was singling them out and speaking right at them. To me it was funny. Humour is like that, it works and sometimes it doesn't.