Today, I finished a book that I borrowed from the First Nations Library at The University of Western Ontario. Yup, I was being Indian that day and able to read this book at no-cost and tax free. (This being funny given that Drew Hayden Taylor thanked the reader on several occasions for purchasing the book). A book that I just happen to stumble across one day. I recognized the name, “Drew Hayden Taylor.” The book title, “Me Funny,” was what attracted me to the book in the first place, however. In the end, it was an interesting read.
This is a book about humor or wit among First Nations people, and not that there is just one type of humor. “Me Funny” describes the many uses of humor among First Nation people:
- To learn from
- To scold
- To help bring one back down to reality … when one’s head has gotten to big
- To educate
- To share and pass down stories
Growing up on the reserve and in, what I would like to call, an all-Aboriginal family Kind of like an All-American family but except instead of suburbia you have reserves, and instead of driving a cadillac there is just a powwow van packed to the max every weekend, and instead of just one other sibling…there are 3 others and tonnes of aunties, cousins, etc…there was plenty of humor around while growing up. Reading this book helped me to remember all the ways in which my family helped me bring me back down to reality, or to help me learn, or to…yes even scold me.
The one thing that I liked in particular about this book is that in one of the essays it was highlighted that not all First Nations people are the same, and thus their humor is not the same. This is one of the things that I have trouble explaining to people: We are not all the same. They usually look at me weird and just laugh. But then I say with the look on my face: I am serious. Then I laugh. Mostly at them. Humor is about learning not to take things in life so seriously and it is about learning to look at things in a different light whether it be those things are positive or negative.
This book makes this point clear and I experienced it especially with the chapter dedicated to “Cree Humor.” I didn’t get the entire humor of it all but it was still entertaining to read: 2 half-Cree women in a gym causing heads to be turned when they left the gym even after one was whipped right off the treadmill for failing to keep up with her fast paced friend.
I remember telling someone else about the book I was reading…a non-Native person. I said I was excited to read the book and to “learn” about this topic. I mean what more can I learn after growing up on a reserve, living in 3 cities, and working and going to school a predominantly non-Native society or as Mr. Taylor would say “white society.” Non-Native is just the politically correct way of saying it. Then, the non-Native person… whoops, I mean white person replied “Yeah, because you don’t hear about that sort of stuff.” And it is true, you don’t really hear about Natives being funny and all. So, if you would like a good, relaxing read and one that you could probably finish in a day (that I didn’t do) then I suggest picking up “Me Funny” compiled and edited by Drew Hayden Taylor.