Character: Comedian Howie Echo-Hawk is happy to make you uncomfortable

“I describe my comedy as punishment for white people, not comedy for white people.”

My comedy is for Native people …

and people of color. But the reality is that there are mostly white people at most of my events because we live in Seattle and the genocide is a thing that happened, so. I describe my comedy as punishment for white people, not comedy for white people.

I talk about things that I think …

about a lot: colonization and what the future looks like for Native people.

I get questions like, …

“Why’d you choose to talk about these things in a funny way?” It’s a question I hate. Nobody asks John Mulaney why he’s talking about wearing suits. He’s just a white guy and that’s what he does. I’m a Native person and this is what I got.

I was born and raised in Alaska.

I’m the youngest of eight. My dad is Pawnee. We are enrolled members of the Pawnee Nation in what is now called Oklahoma. My mom is a lovely, small, white woman who is probably Irish. We were adopted by the Athabaskan Tribe into a village called Mentasta. We don’t have any Athabaskan “blood,” but that’s the culture we grew up around. So to them, we’re Athabaskan.

Comedy has given me …

the opportunity to co-create Indigenize Productions, a collective of Native performing artists. We want to make a place where Native people can pretend that white people don’t exist for a little while.

I’ve wondered why …

I didn’t come out earlier as queer. I’m pretty sure straight people don’t exist. I’m going to get a psychologist to write a book about how straight people are broken and they can be fixed.

I grew up in a Christian church …

environment, where the performance was kind of a big part of it. I’m not a Christian anymore. Most days I’m a soft atheist, hard agnostic.

After the election of Donald Trump, …

I was shocked but not surprised, as my professor (at the UW) Dr. Moon-Ho Jung put it, mostly by white liberals. The fact that they didn’t see it as a possibility made me realize we’re living in two completely different worlds. I live in a world where cops talk to me in Spanish and white liberals live in what they describe as a liberal bubble.

The first joke I wanted to do …

the day after the election was to ask, “So, who’d you all vote for?” and watch the audience cry.

I’ve started asking if the people …

booking me have any other people of color booked on the show. I never want to be the only one. It’s like, you’ve got a Native American, non-binary person. They’re like, “That checks all the boxes.” No thanks.

The moment that a bunch …

of white people are like, “Up next, genocide comedy by Howie Echo-Hawk,” is the day I burn everything down. White people should not be able to just enjoy these things. They’re funny for Native people and people of color because we deal with them all the time.