December 30, 2013

Charlie Hill dies

Comedian Charlie Hill Walks OnCharlie Hill, a legend of standup comedy who has influenced virtually every Native comic who followed, lost his battle with lymphoma earlier today. As the news spreads through Indian country, condolences and tributes to a man who touched the lives of many are pouring forth. Here are just a few.

Actor Gary Farmer, via Facebook:

My sincere condolences to family, friends, and fans for my long time friend, Charlie Hill who passed on early this morning. We met in Oneida, WI in the early 80's and remained friends throughout until our last gig together in Minnesota to roast Dennis Banks...when he introduced me and the band. It was a memorable introduction...and my last funny memory of a great comedian.

Comedian Roseanne Barr, via Twitter:

Charlie Hill revolutionary stand up comic /wordsmith vagenius has vac8d ths realm

Photographer Thosh Collins, via Facebook:

We never lose great people.... we get to enjoy their guidance from the spirit world. Our time with them is just delayed until our spirit entities meet again in another place. ... [Charlie Hill] was the first successful Native American comedian appearing on shows like Richard Prayor, Jonny Carson, David Letterman and Jay Leno. Charlie was not only a funny man but was a very kind and loving man to his family and those around him. ... Your journey touched all.

Thanks for the Laughs: 8 Must-Watch Clips of the Late Charlie HillStandup comedian Charlie Hill lost his battle with lymphoma yesterday morning. But as Indian country mourns a pioneering performer, it's also important to remember what he was all about: laughter. As the "first" Native comedian -- Hill himself pointed out that Will Rogers and Jonathan Winters were more deserving of the title--he made a lot of American Indians laugh over a career that stretches back to the 1970s. In fact, he made everyone laugh, and in doing so helped change preconceived notions about what Natives could and couldn't be. This was no stoic Indian crying about pollution--this was one funny guy, which is how every comedian hopes to be remembered.Pow Wow Comedy Jam Farewell Letter to Charlie Hill From Marc YaffeeYou worked and rubbed elbows with the biggest comedy stars and you still stayed Charlie from the Rez. You were savvy enough to avoid being stereotyped but smart and strong enough to share you culture and uniquely Indian perspective. You made strangers feel like friends and newer comedians feel like equals. You were just you, whether onstage at The Comedy Store in Hollywood or drinking a coffee in Tuba City. You could have (and should have) been as famous as Leno or Carlin or Cosby (and you are in Indian Country). Except, you weren’t about the fame and money. You were about making people laugh, sharing stories and living life on your terms. You always stayed true to yourself, your culture and your family. It is a sad time to see you go but you left us a lot of great and funny memories that will live on for a long, long time.

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