ICTMN contributor Marc Yaffee is one-third of the Pow Wow Comedy Jam, one of the most successful Native standup comedy groups ever. And like so many of his contemporaries, he was hugely influenced by Charlie Hill, the pioneering American Indian comedian who died on Monday. Yaffee put his thoughts about Charlie's passing into words and asked that we share them with ICTMN readers. Here they are.
I shoulda, coulda sent this letter to you when you sooner, but now that you have made your transition, I wanted to share it with your many friends and fans who I’m pretty sure will agree with these words. Thank you for your friendship, your talents and your humanity. In an entertainment industry filled with under-talented , over-inflated egos, you stood out with your comedic abilities and your genuine humility. If anyone had a right to be arrogant and boastful it would have been you. The first (and only) Indian comedian to appear on The Richard Pryor Show. The Tonight Show. The Late Show with David Letterman. Plus many other credits and probably enough awards to stack as high as a cell tower. You 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.
Just one of your many friends,