Rez comedians heal, hearten with laughs

Rob Fairbanks and Jon Roberts are Ojibwa comedians who seek to make a movie and take a chance at the big time this fall.

Rob Fairbanks and Jon Roberts are Ojibwa comedians seeking to make a movie and get noticed on a western tour.

“When people hear the words ‘Indian Reservation,’ they think of alcoholism, drugs, addiction, abuse and suicide,” levels Jon Roberts, a comedian from Red Lake. “We want to send a message that those shouldn’t be the only words you think of when you see us. Laughter is what brings communities together. That is the reason we want to make this documentary a reality.”

Roberts and Rob Fairbanks from Cass Lake, whose hilarious YouTube segments as the “Rez Reporter” is popular in Indian Country and beyond, are working with a film producer to raise funds for a documentary film about life as Ojibwa comedians, including a trip out west to compete in a West Coast comedy contest.

Fairbanks and Roberts relaunched a $10,000 Kickstarter goal this week to fund the film and trip. The deadline is Wednesday, July 29.

Their plan would put them on tour, stopping in places like the Badlands, Wounded Knee and Mt. Zion National Park — each with its own native peoples’ story attached. The mission, said Fairbanks, is hope. Roberts said his goals is simply to show that Indians are still here, and they’re funny, too.

It’s a really cool project. The very excellent Northern Minnesota musician Charlie Parr has signed on to produce an original soundtrack for the movie. Check out their page and see if you can help.

Fairbanks and Roberts will be guests on my Sept. 19 Great Northern Radio Show at Bemidji State University where they’ll give an update on the project and perform their acts.

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