Ever Sick, Stefan!
Howah, ever sick, as if I’m on the nativelovenotes website! I feel just famous now.
My name is Miskobinesibimise (Red Thunderbird Flying), or as Canada Revenue calls me Stefan Richard, I am a member of the Sagkeeng First Nation, I’m a radio personality, have a TV/Web Series in production with APTN lumi. All of this is thanks to Native Humor.
Let me take you back, I started a podcast in 2015 called “The Ever Sick! Podcast”, my friend Roger kept bothering me to start a podcast and after much of my resistance, he brought out an old recording device and a microphone in his basement and we made an episode, then 2, then 3, then eventually 150. We made a pact to try and make it like the Indigenous Tonight Show, except I’m not Jimmy Fallon, maybe Jimmy Favel, weeeeenuk. I got to interview some of the most recognizable names in Native Country, like NHL Legend Reggie Leach, Hip-Hop artist Drezus, Ryan Black from Dance Me Outside, among many others. It was eye opening to see how much incredible talent we have in our community.
The whole idea of the podcast was kind of conveyed within the title. Ever Sick! Such a simple saying for a lot of us in Manitoba but opened so many doors for me that I’m forever grateful for. I had an Icelandic Grandfather who grew up in the Interlake. Riverton in the 1940’s & 50’s, the town was predominantly Icelandic & Ukrainian families new to the country & Indigenous people. My Grandfather has had the most unique sense of humor of anyone I’ve ever met, he’s got that neechi humor from where he grew up *and* from marrying my Grandmother, who’s a member of the Pine Creek First Nation, but his was also kind of dark and I love that stuff. Comedy evolves from tragedy some say. Which brings me to my Father’s family, they are from Sagkeeng but I did not grow up with that side of my family. Residential school. Abandonment. Addiction. All the themes of our tragedies as a community are all there and inhibited my chance to be a part of that family.
My Father & I’s relationship is very rocky. But it was the first time that I went to his house that opened my eyes onto how our people adapt to those tragedies that we are all affected by. He picked me up in the city and was driving me back to St. Georges, where he was living at the time. We stopped for gas in Brokenhead (this was pre-boujee Wavers,) when he got out for his 20 plus, I’ll never forget the 2 other guys who were pumping gas at the same time, BIG Uncle types, long ponytails, scruffy goatees, big bellies. It was springtime too, so they had their big rubbers on. Not that the season matters for an Uncle to wear his rubbers, but still, it stands out in my memory. My Dad and these 2 big guys were all pumping gas, laughing so hard. Tongues out. Bellies bouncing. I thought he might have known them from back on the rez. So when he got back into the van, I said “who were those guys?” and his response “I don’t know.” Then I followed up with “what the heck was so funny out there?” and his response again was “I don’t know. We just laugh at each other.” Something clicked in my head, that even though we have had a genocide committed against us. It’s our humor that keeps us balanced. It keeps us level. It keeps our hearts full. I never want us to lose that. It’s good for the heart. It’s good for the soul.
My favorite type of native humor is when one of us gets called out for simply being practical. Let me set the scene for you. It’s winter. It’s cold & windy. We’re outside walking to the store. I pull out my mitts when my cousins look at each other “Hooooh, just really has mitts” and bursts out laughing. Dude that is the funniest shit in my life. I can’t think of anything stupider to laugh at, but that’s why I love it.
After I finished the Ever Sick! Podcast, I took a short gig with APTN to host their Digital Drum podcast, before moving onto NCI FM’s Afternoon show for 2 years. I have never been so proud to host something in my life than I was during those 2 years on NCI. It was the station I had grown up listening to. I had heard the Big Bear, Dennis Chartrand, Sheila North, Clarence Two Toes, among others on there. The list goes on. I was able to harness a lot of that humor I had heard growing up on the radio for my own show. I feel like it was some of my finest work, even though it was my first real radio gig, where else could I have called someone a “ch’garlic” on the radio and the audience not only understand but find it funny!
This year, I’ll also be hosting a new show on APTN lumi coming out this year focusing on my journey on learning Indigenous Language, the show will be educational, uplifting, but most importantly for me at least, is that it will be funny. I have the creative freedom to use the humor that’s saved us for many generations and amalgamate it with the language that we so badly are trying to save. To me, there is no better way to celebrate us by using humor to save culture. Turning native humor into a career is not something I had set out to do. But it has given me so many opportunities to take part in our community. Something that I did not have so strongly growing up. Thank you for taking the time to read this, now g’wan, Uncle’s stories are coming on the TV.
aka Stefan Richard
FB: Stefan Richard