top of page

Comedy for survival

Being what the great Ojibway writer Drew Hayden Taylor refers to as "a person of pallor" — white — I can't understand the historical and current anguish that Indigenous people have endured as a result of colonization.

But I can see how resorting to humor has helped Indigenous people and others resist oppression. Devery Jacobs, a Kanien'kehá:ka performer, says, "Indigenous people are masters at taking the hurt and pain that was dealt to us, laughing in the face of it, and weaving it into ridiculous comedy gold."

This echoes the famous Jewish tendency for laughter as a way of coping with centuries of persecution and genocide, as exhibited in a sub-genre known as "Holocaust humour" and chronicled in Israeli academic Chaya Ostrower's in-depth study of Holocaust survivors, It Kept Us Alive.

Taylor observes that Indigenous peoples' ability to laugh not only keeps them sane, but also gives them power, "sort of like a spiritual pemmican." Manifest Destiny's Child, an all-Indigenous female comedy troupe located in Toronto, utilizes humour to address and heal lived realities. Anishinaabe comic Tim Fontaine explains how dark comedy may provide the light of knowledge as a means of change.

In his book Subversive Laughter: The Liberating Power of Comedy, comedian Ron Jenkins examines instances in which the form has been used to survive and even conquer oppression.

He discusses clowns in Bali who perform theater in response to tourist Westernization. Lithuanian street artists paint caricatures of Stalin and Lenin on Russian barricades. A clown dressed in khaki leads an anti-apartheid march in South Africa. Artists in comic theater who make fun of Japan's prevalent intolerance of quirkiness.

My forefathers are from Hungary, which is located in center Europe and has little natural defenses, making it a magnet for armed tourism by Mongol, Turkish, Austrian, Nazi, and Soviet occupants.

My parents, then young political refugees from the Hungarian Revolution, recall standing in a breadline in Budapest, cracking jokes about Russians while Soviet tanks terrified the streets around them. Growing up as the child of immigrants, I discovered that comedy was a vital survival strategy on the playground.

With all that said: Yonkers Comedy Club and its great ambiance provide all types of great talent an opportunity to come on board and entertain the audience of the club.

Yonkers Comedy Club highly promotes and welcome all type of stand up comedy talent that ensures art is properly exhibited in front of the whole crowd without any discrimination.

6 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

Comedy as controlling language

According to cultural analyst Susan Purdie, the true aim of humor is to regulate language and meaning. When comedians command a podium, they assume a position of power. In civic society, this mantle,

Comedy should punch up rather than kick down

Rich Vos, an American comedian, recently threw racist "jokes" at female Indigenous guests at a Winnipeg comedy club, as though he hoped the ladies would be arrested for driving under the influence on

Stand-up comedy and the pursuit of Cultural legitimacy

In different parts of the world, new bickering has begun that stand-up comedy is not a cultural thing but it’s a pursuit to cry out the vulgarity in the voices of artists. The Arts Council England (AC

1 Comment

T Sullivan
T Sullivan
Oct 14, 2023

Yonkers Comedy Club refuses to refund money on tickets that were bogus.

They keep giving the run around rather than address the issue.

bottom of page