Standup comedian Charlie Hill lost his battle with lymphoma last year. 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. Enjoy these videos of Hill; the first is a tribute video posted just a few days ago, and the seven that follow are arranged in chronological order.
The Richard Pryor Show, 1977:
Tempe, Arizona, 1983:
Interview circa 1983/84:
Winnipeg Comedy Festival, 2006:
The Late Show With David Letterman, 2006:
Muckleshoot Casino, Auburn, Washington, 2011:
Interview with Tito Ybarra, 2012: