June 13, 2010

49 Laughs Comedy Troupe

Laughs with a message

49 Laughs Comedy Troupe offers Diné showcase of jokes

By Isaiah Montoya
The Santa Ana Star Casino hosted the 49 Laughs Comedy Troupe on June 4 and thousands of fans showed up. They heard a hilarious show of Navajo comedy.

Ernie Tsosie and James Junes started the comedy troupe in 2001 after they both replied to an advertisement in the Navajo Times for a comedy competition.

"I came in second place," said Tsosie.

"I came in first," boasted Junes.

The Navajo funny men decided to form a two-man comedy team after doing an impromptu session together.

Now, with two more Native comics in tow--Tatanka Means and Pax Harvey Jr.--the comedy troupe is on tour.

The 49 Laughs team is an all-sober crew who do not cuss on stage.

"I am constantly seeing the humor in my culture and I want to present it to the public in a clean way," Tsosie said. "We each have humility and respect for the other performers and we uphold each other through hard times."
Some examples of their humor:Ernie Tsosie started out by saying, "What is up with the gulf oil spill? What, has it been there 46 days now? All you need is a Pueblo woman with a ball of dough and it would be fixed, and it would cost only $2.50.

"I really don't want to be in Arizona right now because of the immigration laws," he said. "I'm a Navajo and we sweat a lot and they do not like anyone who has a wet back.

"Navajos are like the Starbucks of the Indian world," he said. "There's one on every corner!

"I went to a Sioux village and I felt like a white tourist. I was, like, 'Look there's a Sioux, take a picture!

"I asked a Sioux guy if they still used the teepee, and he said, 'Yes I do use toilet paper.'

"Then I asked him if they still eat the buffalo, and he said, 'Yes, but just the wings, with a little ranch dressing.'
Comment:  For more on the subject, see "Commodity Comedy Show" and Navajo Entertainment in 2009.

Below:  "Left to right, James Junes, Ernie Tsosie, Tatanka Means and Pax Harvey Jr., members of the 49 Laughs Comedy Troupe, perform June 4 at the Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo, N.M." (Special to the Times--Isaiah Montoya)

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