A book to make you howl with both laughter and fury, We Had a Little Real Estate Problem gushes with humor, outrage, determination, and life. Kliph Nesteroff has worked with a large and knowledgeable team to document the past, track the current, and look towards the future of Native American comedy. Framed around a beloved punchline from Charlie Hill, the first Native American comedian to be featured on The Tonight Show, We Had a Little Real Estate Problem, is both a knee-slapper and a heart-breaker.
I do not want to steal the spotlight from the many Native comedians that Nesteroff chronicles, nor do I want to lay out all of the historical details that he has arranged with care, thought, and humor…you just have to read this book. The story of modern Native stand-up is told through interviews, ride-alongs, and setlists with current artists from both America and Canada. They share the stories of their careers with radical candor, as well as the stories of their families, contemporaries, and communities. Nesteroff alternates their stories with the history of Native entertainers in the US and Canada; artists who survived forced migration, residential schools, horrific state-sanctioned abuse and much more, who rose above the mess thrust upon them to entertain, enlighten, and inspire.
Starting with Wild West Shows (often the only way that a Native person could find any sort of freedom) and continuing on through current acts like The 1491s and Jana Schmieding (who is currently writing for and acting in Rutherford Falls), We Had A Little Real Estate Problem provides a solid base for comedy fans and equity minded folks alike. Nesteroff, a huge comedy fan, knows when to listen, when to probe, and when to pass the mic. He passes the mic to people who tell their own stories; people who have fought for their little piece of the entertainment landscape in a land that was stolen from them. Again; I don’t want to share their jokes here- read this book (or listen to it!) as soon as you can. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn.