The Washington Center for the Performing Arts has partnered with Indigenous Performance Productions to advance equity for Indigenous arts by supporting and promoting Native arts and artists. The Washington Center is featuring their newest production “Some Stars of Native American Comedy,” where four unique Native American Comedy Storytellers will take the stage for a night of delightful, hilarious stand-up that is full of passion and heart. The show will be on Saturday November 5 at 7:30 p.m., so be sure to buy your tickets now to save your seat!

Taietsarón:sere 'Tai' Leclaire headshot
Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire is a writer and actor on Peacock’s new hit ‘Rutherford Falls,’ and has been awarded the 2022 Sundance Institute Native Lab. His poignant and unapologetic jokes will hit home and bring humor to the issues facing our modern society. Photo courtesy: Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire

Experience Indigenous Arts at the Washington Center

As we continue to come out of the pandemic, the Washington Center is thrilled to support and promote the return of in-person events. They have been slowly building up their event lineup to feature a range of shows and recognize the unique impact of live comedy being in the mix. “Ultimately, comedy is about connection,” shares Washington Center for Performing Arts Executive Director Jill Barnes. “It’s a communal thing to laugh in a room of strangers, and is a great stress relief and opportunity to cast away problems and live in the moment.” The Washington Center strives to create a space for a diverse array of performers to show their work. To do this, they proudly work alongside many organizations with a similar mission, such as Indigenous Performance Productions. Their mission is to focus on indigenous performance and art to finally tell their stories their own way.

“For the vast majority of United States history, these stories haven’t been told by Native American people,” shares Indigenous Performance Productions Executive Producer Andre Bouchard. “We can look at the timeline of Native communities and see all of this Native theater, dance, comedy, and music. Native culture has been vibrant through all of it, so of course there would be an emergence. Now it is just having the resources and education to break into these professions.” Andre is deeply passionate about finding ways to promote and lift up Native American artists, and sees the potential in more representation of Indigenous people on stage and on screens.

Jim Ruel headshot
Jim Ruel has decades of standup experience and has performed on television multiple times, including as a finalist in London for ‘The World Stands Up.’ His hilarious and honest reflection on Native life had delighted audience after audience and left them wanting more. Photo courtesy: Frybread Productions

The Washington Center proudly supports this same intention with the vision of connection not only with each other but across cultures. “Ultimately, no matter how different segments of the population may be, we are all human, and there are more similarities than differences between us,” says Jill. “Comedy helps build that bridge for understanding different cultures or ideas. It is a vehicle to critique norms and misconceptions, address issues, and explore ideas in an unconventional way, and can change what we think and maybe even what we do.” For the Washington Center, it is hugely vital to represent all cultures on the stage, so they are honored to be a part of the rising opportunities for Indigenous artists to be front and center to share their stories and culture with the world.

The Washington Center has hosted numerous Indigenous artists and performances. Starting in 2020 with Anthony Hudson’s “Looking for Tiger Lily,” “Welcome to Indian Country” in 2021 and  The Julia Keefe Indigenous Big Band in 2022. This season’s presentations include “The Aunties: Women of the Salish Sea” and the upcoming stand-up tour “Some Stars of Native Comedy.” Both the Washington Center and Indigenous Performance Productions are eager to provide opportunities for our local Indigenous performers to continue to step into this spotlight to showcase their unique talents.

An Exceptional Lineup of Native American Comedians

Gilbert Brown headshot
Gilbert ‘The Naughty Rezdog’ Brown has been performing professionally since 2008. He brings a unique storytelling to the stage that reels audiences in and leaves them in stitches. Photo courtesy: Frybread Productions

This tour will feature an amazing lineup of 4 veteran standup comedians that are extremely passionate about their craft and are ready to take the stage to tell their stories like never before. Jim Ruel, Gilbert Brown, Sheila Chalakee, and Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire will share their stories in a night full of laughter, wonder, and insight into Native life with a humorous lens.

Jim Ruel is a director and comedian who grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a member of the Bay Mills Band of Ojibwe. He has decades of comedy experience, including television performances on ‘The World Stands Up,’ Showtime’s ‘Goin Native: The American Indian Comedy Slam,’ and FNX’s First Nations Comedy Experience. He currently works in film and media under Frybread Productions and is a co-host of the Hollywood NDNz podcast highlighting careers of Native American professionals in entertainment.

Gilbert Brown is a comedian and member of the Modoc, Klamath, Paiute, and Warm Springs tribes. Nicknamed ‘The Naughty Rezdog,’ he uses a hilarious storytelling style to share humorous tales about his life including tales from rodeos and living on the rez. Gilbert has been performing professionally since 2008 and emcees powwows throughout the NDN country.

Jim Ruel headshot
Jim Ruel has decades of standup experience and has performed on television multiple times, including as a finalist in London for ‘The World Stands Up.’ His hilarious and honest reflection on Native life had delighted audience after audience and left them wanting more. Photo courtesy: Frybread Productions

Sheila Chalakee is a registered citizen of Muscogee Creek Nation. Over the years, she has had her work featured on PBS, WEtv, E! Network, Amazon Prime, Univision, and FNX and has performed sketch comedy, standup, theater, and improvisation across America. She was also the recipient of the SkinsFest TV Writers Fellowship in 2021 and has received critical acclaim from The Chicago Reader, The Huffington Post, and Nylon Magazine.

Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Mi’kmaq from the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke. He was awarded the 2022 Sundance Institute Native Lab for his script “How to Deal with System Racism in the Afterlife,” which also earned him The Indigenous List on The Black List in partnership with Illuminatives and The Sundance Institute. He is a writer and actor on Peacock’s ‘Rutherford Falls,’ and will be making his first directorial debut with his short film ‘Headdress,’ coming in 2023.

“Some Native Stars of Comedy” brings Indigenous comedy to the stage right here in Olympia with a hilarious lineup of Native standup comics. It will be a night of humor, insight, and heart that you won’t want to miss! Buy your tickets online today!

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