Me Funny


191 pages
ISBN 1-55365-137-5
DDC C817'.5409897





Reviewed by Jonathan Anuik

Jonathan Anuik is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History and
president of the HGSC at the University of Saskatchewan.


What is Aboriginal humour? What makes Aboriginal humour distinct from
the jokes, teasing, and funny stories told by members of other cultural
and social groups? What has been and continues to be its function in the
21st century? In Me Funny, Drew Hayden Taylor and a noted group of
writers explore these questions through literary analysis, traditional
teachings, and personal experiences in drama, stand-up comedy, and art.
They believe that humour remains with Aboriginals, despite the
challenges imposed by centuries of attempted colonization.

Each contributor uses humour to challenge readers about their
assumptions concerning Aboriginal culture. Allan Ryan begins with a
discussion of the controversy surrounding his paintings of Aboriginals.
Kristina Fagan observes how humour, translated through teasing and
present in stories, pressures youth to adopt community norms. Others
reflect on their performances of Native theatre. Janice Acoose and
Natasha Beeds present a play with two hip Aboriginal women who speak of
their genealogies. Ian Ferguson frames the humorous statements from
Aboriginals as forms of in-jokes designed to draw boundaries of
inclusion, while Tomson Highway proposes Cree is the language to build
this “in-group” as some of the funniest in-jokes occur between
people who speak and understand the language. Karen Froman and Louise
Profeit-LeBlanc believe that humour encourages honest discussion of
spousal abuse, alcoholism, and starvation—realities faced by many
urban Aboriginals. Two to three pages of “cultural jocularity and
racial comicalness” exist between clusters of essays. The
ethnographies refresh the reader whose mind is challenged by the depth
of engagement and analysis.

Me Funny reflects the innovative methods used by those who write on
Aboriginal topics, whether fictional or non-fictional. The collection is
a first for the examination of humour, and it creates an opportunity for
academics, elders, teachers, and literary writers to delve into an area
with great interdisciplinary and scholastic potential.


Taylor, Drew Hayden, “Me Funny,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,