Is that unfair, something you have to deal with that a non-Aboriginal artist wouldn’t?
I think so in a way, but it’s also who decides we’re role models? For Aboriginal people to say “you’re a good thing” – but I even tell them, don’t look up to me because I belong on eye level with you. So it’s a bit uncomfortable, but I go with it. I try to.
Anyone who’s seen your work knows how incredibly funny you are…
Oh, you need to raise your standards too.
When did you first become aware that you were funny?
Maybe when I got on Black Comedy. I say to people, if you saw my family, and even Aboriginal people in general, we have a wicked sense of humour. So to me, like, I made people laugh, but other people made me laugh just as much. And even now, when people ask me, “Who do you think is funny?” I say well, look at Aboriginal people.
I’ll see an Aboriginal person on TV and there’s a mannerism or a way they talk, or they’ll do something and I’ll have a chuckle. I was watching the news years ago, and there was a crocodile attack in the Northern Territory: an Aboriginal family was camping, and the crocodile went up to the tent and started dragging the wife by her legs. Her husband jumped on top of the crocodile and
poked it in its eyes and it let her go. So she’s at Darwin Hospital and a reporter says, “Do you view your husband as a hero?” and she looks back and says, “It wasn’t just him, I was fightin’ it too.” I loved that, it was so typical.
Do you think it’s something that white people underappreciate about Aboriginal people, the sense of humour?
Yeah, and that was one of the main drives why I wanted to do Black Comedy. I wanted to show this humour that we have, because I always used to get asked, “Why are you angry, why have youse gotta be different?” but nobody ever asked, “Why are youse funny?” People have this thing that we’re always sitting around sad and sorry and angry about something, but they don’t see the way we laugh, and we laugh hard and we laugh loud.