- By Kaili Berg
Leave your stereotypes at home and acknowledge the land you’re on at the upcoming all-Native comedy show at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland.
“The Originals: All Native Comedy” is part of the second annual SPRUNG! Comedy Festival is a five-day lineup of diverse comedy shows. The show will feature a comedic lineup of some of the brightest talents around Indian Country, including host Gigi Modrich (Jicarilla Apache); Shea Vassar (Cherokee); Jamar Hall (Navajo); Ixchel Hernandez (Nahua/Guxatan); and headliner Adrianne Chalepah (Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma) who has been seen on Netflix’s “Spirit Rangers” and FX’s “Reservation Dogs.”
SPRUNG! Comedy Festival will also feature “MOTHER of All Comedy Shows,”; “The Mic Divas,”; “Comedy as a Second Language,”; “Comedy for Peace,”; and “Cupid’s Queer Comedy Special.”
“The Originals: All Native Comedy,” will be held on February 8th starting at 7.
Modrich sat down with Native News Online to discuss how she got into comedy, connecting with other Indigenous comedians, and more.
Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
NNO: What inspired you to want to host “The Originals: All Native Comedy” show?
Modrich: It was during the pandemic in 2020 when I felt like a lot of Native American comedians were silenced, we were not talking to each other, and we didn’t really know how many of us were out there. One of the blessings of COVID-19 was everyone jumping online, and since then, we have created a comprehensive online community of Native comedians and creatives.
I love our communities. We are all lifting each other up and making sure our voices are heard. I wanted to start this program to make sure that I am giving back to my Native community. I am creating a space to amplify our voices.
NNO: What are you most excited for people watching the show to experience?
Modrich: I am all about breaking stereotypes since we are in the mid-Atlantic area. There are tribe’s here in Maryland that are still not federally recognized. For the most part, people are still learning that we are still here and that we are all phenotypically different. A lot of people think they have never met a Native or have ever interacted with a Native. I am most excited for people to see the depth and breadth of Indian Country because we have so many different people represented in this show. I am excited to showcase the variety of Indian Country.
NNO: Tell me about your stand-up comedy journey and why you decided to walk this path.
Modrich: I have been doing stand-up comedy for about seven years now. I really try to draw attention to all the stereotypes and the modern Indigenous person in a light-hearted way.
I wanted to do comedy since I was little, but like any good parent, they were very concerned that I wouldn’t be able to move out if I pursued art. I went into Indian law and became an attorney then.
When I was going through a divorce, after I tragically married a white guy when I knew I shouldn’t have, I learned my lesson after he took everything. I should have seen that coming, and I ended up losing my sense of shame. I had nothing left so I decided why not go on stage and try. I had nothing to lose, which brought me into comedy today. Much like a lot of things we Natives do, it was all trauma-based.
NNO: What else is under the radar for people looking for more Indigenous comedy?
Modrich: I am always trying to uplift others because we stand on the shoulders of giants. There is a show called Good Medicine hosted by Jackie Keliiaa that gets a lot of big hits. Good Medicine is performing at the Perelman Performing Arts Center in New York on February 2nd. There will be a hilarious lineup of stars in Indian Country, including Jana Schmieding (NBC’s Rutherford Falls), Bobby Wilson (FX’s Reservation Dogs), Brian Bahe (2022 New Faces of Comedy), and Adrianne Chalepah.
Keliiaa has a lot of amazing people in her show and has raised a lot of money for a lot of great causes from Good Medicine. She is doing great work, and that is what I want to see. I did my show because she did her show. She has really inspired me.
Get tickets and more information on SPRUNG! Comedy Festival here.
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