Google is celebrating what would have been trailblazing Native American comic Charlie Hill’s 71st birthday with a Google Doodle.
To have fun the comic’s pioneering profession, Google commissioned an illustration by Alanah Astehtsi Otsistohkwa (Morningstar) Jewell, a French-First Nations artist from Oneida Nation of the Thames, during which Hill holds a microphone.
On the Google Doodle’s web page, Hill’s household additionally shared a particular tribute to the late comic in honour of his 71st birthday.
“When Charlie was on stage, he was in his element. Time and space didn’t exist, and he loved making people laugh. He believed it was the best kind of medicine,” Hill’s household wrote. “Through his comedy, Charlie promoted healing and reminded Native people of their resiliency, capabilities, and creative abilities.
“Storytelling and humor have always been a part of Native American culture and he reminded everyone of this. He established the visibility of Native people and fought to end stereotypes, while also creating a new wave of accurate representation. Charlie was an incredibly caring person, authentic, and very driven. He was never about the accolades and didn’t like talking about himself.
“Dad, we are so proud of you for who you were, all that you accomplished, the doors you opened, and the multitudes you have inspired and continue to inspire. You were the best father anyone could ever ask for, and you will always be our hero.”
Born in Detroit, Michigan, on 6 July 1951, Hill, who had Oneida (Onʌyoteˀa·ká·), Mohawk (Kanien’kehá:ka) and Cree (Néhinaw) heritage, broke obstacles when he turned the primary Native American comic to carry out on nationwide TV.
When Hill was 11, he moved to the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin’s reservation, the place his father grew up. There, the standup comedian’s spectacular profession can be influenced early on. Wednesday’s Google Doodle notes that Hill turned fascinated with comedy as a toddler, and that he and his household would spend weekends watching comedy reveals collectively.
After attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the place he majored in speech and drama, Hill moved to Los Angeles and started to make a reputation for himself as a comic. According to CNN, Hill’s materials incessantly addressed bigotry in direction of Native Americans and different indigenous folks, whereas advocating for Native American civil rights.
Hill’s massive break got here in 1977 when he was requested to carry out on The Richard Pryor Show. However, when the supply was first offered to the comic, it included a request from the present’s writers for Hill to painting a Native American stereotype, which he refused.
When Hill did seem on the present, it marked the primary time a Native American comedian appeared on nationwide TV.
Hill’s profession continued to take off from there, acting on each the Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
According to Kliph Nesteroff, the writer of We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy, Hill’s activism-fused comedy impressed “scores of comedians in Canada and in the United States – First Nations comedians, Native American comedians – to get into the business”.
“For a lot of people, it just seemed like there was too great a barrier, if you were a native, to get involved in comedy. It was almost like you weren’t allowed, it was almost unspoken,” Nesteroff informed the Journal Sentinel in 2021. “You were only allowed to be a stereotype. You weren’t allowed to be yourself. Charlie Hill really kind of smashed down those barriers.”
Hill died in 2013 on the age of 62 from lymphoma.
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