My Bio: I’m an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe (aboriginal land is southern Washington State), I grew up on the Tulalip Indian Reservation and went to Tulalip tribal schools for most of my K through 12 education. Now I live in Los Angeles and have written for Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, Nerdist, Cracked, UCB, The Pack Theater and a ton of other places. This year I put up the first ever showcase of American Indian Comedians at UCB which was very fun. I can speak a lot on the struggles of Natives in Hollywood, any general questions about native country or any general questions about comedy writing and working in the entertainment industry. No question is too silly. My name is Joey Clift. Ask me anything!


Some of my writing credits if you want to ask about specific things:

I recently wrote a short satire book about Native representation in media called "The American Indian Ready To Wear Catalog 2018" that does a good job explaining some of the things we have to deal with. It was illustrated by Janet Myer who is an amazing Cowlitz artist and also my mom (how cute). You can download a free pdf of it here:

Edit: To add proof

Edit 2: This blew up! I'm working through everyone's questions but if I don't get to yours right away, I'll definitely respond within the next few days so keep asking stuff! Also, if you found this whole thing at all interesting and you want to support me, follow me on twitter!

Edit 3: I've been sitting on my couch answering questions for 8 hours and I'm starting to smell so I should probably step away for the day. I'll keep checking this thread and answering questions throughout the week, so keep asking stuff! Before I go, here are a few more things I'd like to promote.

- Physical copies of my book "The American Indian Ready To Wear Catalog 2018" are for sale at It's $5 and I've only got a few copies left, so order now! (A free pdf of it can be found above)

- I was a guest on the Earwolf podcast Yo Is This Racist!? a few weeks ago where I talked a ton about the struggles of Natives in Hollywood. Give that a listen here!

- I was a guest on the Dead Meat podcast two weeks ago where I talked a ton about Indian Burial Grounds. Listen to that here!

- And if you like stuff that's weird, I host a podcast called "25 Minutes of Silence" which is a podcast where a guest and I just sit in silence for 25 Minutes. Check that out here!

Thanks for all of the questions!

Comments: 753 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

hobbbz1253 karma

Why do the Cowlitz people use Comic Sans on their IDs? this is a travesty.

Just_Joey789 karma

Hahaha, as a member of the tribe I often wonder the same thing!

nutbastard654 karma

Have you considered buying an old Ford Taurus just so you can refer to it as the Clift Taurus?

Just_Joey460 karma

I mean, NOW I have!

nutbastard156 karma

Well I had to check, unfortunately CLIFT is already taken as a license plate in California : (

Just_Joey200 karma

This is the most depressing moment of my life :'(

JackTheVlad398 karma

A Native American became a comedy writer? I have only one question. How?

Just_Joey419 karma

I audibly groaned at this joke :D

rorisshe256 karma

How is Native American humor different from American/British humor? What is your favorite Native American joke/anecdote? What is an example of how you used your Native American sensibility in shaping up a humor piece that was not about being Native American?

Just_Joey446 karma

This is a tough question! There are 562 different federally recognized tribes across the US and we're all pretty different culturally, so I can't speak on all native humor in the same way that someone from Poland probably couldn't speak on British humor. Based on the natives I grew up with, I feel like it's a lot of light hearted ribbing / roasting each other with love. When it comes to stand ups and my style at least, I think it's a lot of just, commenting on the weird things that non natives think about us. Like, grown adults have asked me if I had electricity growing up or if I grew up in a teepee (it's not the 1700s. I played Nintendo in a house with electricity like everyone else).

An example of how I used my native sensibility in shaping a non native humor piece ... for me. I can't think of a specific piece for this, but I do think it makes me a little more "woke" in the writers room. It always annoys me when people get details about natives wrong in shows, so I always try to be respectful when writing about cultures or people that I don't know a ton about. Making a joke more accurate might not make it funnier, but at the very least it'll make the people that it's about feel less gross.

Oh! One thing I think is crazy interesting that I just learned. I have a short film going through festivals that has a crazy long title and I just found out that Sherman Alexie (writer of the film Smoke Signals) used to give the original drafts of his films crazy long titles. Maybe it's a coincidence or maybe that's a weird thing natives just do? Who knows!

Kootsiak246 karma

Like, grown adults have asked me if I had electricity growing up or if I grew up in a teepee (it's not the 1700s. I played Nintendo in a house with electricity like everyone else).

I get this all the time as an Inuit person. I grew up playing NES and watching Ninja Turtles like everyone else in the late 80's and early 90's, but we also ate a lot of wild meat like caribou and seal that my Dad hunted, because we couldn't afford a lot of groceries. We had one foot in the past and one foot in the modern world.

haloryder71 karma

What’s the closest “normal” meat that is comparable to seal?

Kootsiak220 karma

That's a very hard question to answer, because it's a very unique, acquired taste. If I had to compare it to anything, I'd say it tastes generally like liver. I didn't like it growing up, but it was necessary nutrition for our diet and a certified super food in the arctic for survival. I grew to enjoy it as I got older, but it's not my most ideal wild meat, that would be caribou (it's like a big deer).

However, don't listen to PETA, we hunt adult seals, those who aren't taking care of young anymore (we know their patterns after centuries of hunting them) and those who are very capable of defending themselves. You get into the territory of an adult seal and you better be ready to run or defend yourself. You can outrun them, but it won't be a casual jog, you will be running for your life.

HorseJumper45 karma

Is it common for Inuit in more arctic areas to still rely either in part or in whole on subsistence?

Kootsiak77 karma

In secluded communities they still live a mostly subsistence lifestyle, because getting groceries and stuff to them year round is expensive.They still have power and internet up in these places, however slow and unreliable, so they don't need to completely live off the land anymore, but hunting is still a necessity to eat with bare store shelves for months at a time (not that you can make a good living in these small places with conventional jobs).

HorseJumper26 karma

I hope it isn’t insensitive to ask, but what jobs do people typically do in secluded areas?

Kootsiak56 karma

There's a lot of resources in the area, which creates large projects to mine or take advantage of them (like nickel and iron ore mines and hydro dams). So there's a lot of activity around and short-term job opportunities for such an isolated area. I happen to live in a relatively big population center for the area, so there's a normal economy here with a variety of jobs you'd find in any town.

It does get worse the more isolated you get, as there aren't large economies to keep young people around, just a lot of aging populations that live a partial subsistence lifestyle. The young people end up moving away from home to go to school and then to work in their field. Sometimes that brings them close to home, but it more often leads them to other parts of the country and world.

Just_Joey34 karma

This whole thing has been really interesting to read. I didn't know a ton about Alaska natives before this. Thanks for talking about it!

WhitebreadCracker23 karma

I grew up right next to a reservation, I'm only 37, but most of the kids on the rez didn't have electricity, still had dirt floors, some didn't even have plumbing, and I live in San Diego, it's not like we were in butt fuck Wyoming. So I don't know if it's such a crazy question. They actually built a casino about 25 years ago, they are all rich as fuck now. I'm happy for them.

Just_Joey26 karma

Totally fair and I'm sure some reservations are still in those dire financial straights. What bugs me about the question is that I think people are asking it not because of the poverty implications. It's more an assumption that we don't have those things because we're seen as "primitive". At least, that's the impression I've gotten from the people that have asked me those questions.

TheWhiteHunter96 karma

Like, grown adults have asked me if I had electricity growing up or if I grew up in a teepee

As a Canadian growing up in the early days of the internet, I had to explain to many Americans that Canadians don't live in igloos.

Just_Joey190 karma

Haha, ugh. That's so dumb. Everyone knows you guys live in giant hockey pucks...

xxxdarkhorsexxx189 karma

We also attend university, it’s called Puck U

Just_Joey79 karma

Ha! I deserve that :)

the_blind_gramber94 karma

I'm a Texan and when in Europe I am regularly asked if

a) I have a horse to ride to work (no)

b) do I own a gun (yes)

c) if I carry it in a holster (no, jackass, it's in a gun safe)

The answers to a and c are very disappointing to many a Spaniard and Englishman.

Just_Joey78 karma

Haha, so you get it. Imagine also being asked that question everywhere you go in Texas and that's what natives have to go through all the time. It's just constant unrelenting ignorance.

CrookedHearts35 karma

I absolutely love Sherman Alexie. Are there any other Native authors you'd recommend? Leslie Marmon Silko and Louise Erdrich are some other amazing authors I've read.

Just_Joey75 karma

Besides those three, I'd recommend Wilma Mankiller, Tiffany Midge is really funny. I haven't read it, but I've heard good things about Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection and the publisher Native Realities is making a lot of cool stuff.

Also, at the risk of sounding lame, you should read my book! You can buy physical copies for $5 at or download a free copy at (ugh, that felt gross. I promise it's funny).

the_opoponax12 karma

Is there really an Indigenous comics collection called Moonshot?

Moonshot is a really cool name for something. Just saying.

Just_Joey9 karma

Hey, don't you have a sketch meeting you should be writing sketches for right now?

the_opoponax7 karma

But I already have a junk mail envelope with joke ideas written in purple sharpie. I was told that was all I needed for tonight's meeting.

Yodamomma2 karma

I love Louise Erdrich. I’m from ND and her stories really hit home.

Just_Joey3 karma

Semi related plug. My book is going to be stocked in her bookstore Birchbark Books & Native Arts and I'm very flattered / excited about it. She's great!

kyh0mpb253 karma

What are some things people have no idea about when it comes to reservation life that you could tell us about?

Just_Joey725 karma

Sure! There are 562 federally recognized tribes that are all pretty different. I can only really speak on the (mostly Washington State) reservations I've been to, but here's what I can tell you about those.

- It's okay for non natives to live on reservations. I lived in a lower middle class suburb where a lot of my neighbors weren't native.

- There are rich tribes and poor tribes. I grew up on the Tulalip reservation which has a casino, resort and a bunch of other sources of income. They're doing pretty well, so they have tribal schools, tribal police, hatcheries for salmon, a museum, native health clinics and etc. I've also been to reservations that don't have paved roads and barely have internet access because the US Government gave them a bad plot of land for their reservation and they're struggling financially. It's all over the place. There isn't one reservation experience. It's all different.

- If you're interested in authentic native art, reservations are a good place to pick that stuff up.

- A lot of reservations have food trucks or stalls that sell fry bread, which is very delicious.

- Speaking specifically of my experiences, a lot of my schooling on the reservation was spent talking about Salish native history, going on field trips to the tribe's long house, or the remains of boarding schools, watching hoop dances for assemblies, learning traditional stories and performing them for my class. Some people only learn about natives for one week in November. In some states, all of native history is condensed to one paragraph in a u.s. history book that's covered for five minutes in one class in the 4th grade. Growing up on a reservation made me appreciate how "surrounded" by native history we all are and how lucky I am to have been taught what I've been taught and how so few people are taught this stuff.

kyh0mpb90 karma

Thanks Joey! Has your tribe's language survived? Were you taught it in school?

Also, if you were half man, what would the other half be - and why would it be pee?

Just_Joey195 karma

I'm Cowlitz (Southern Washington), but I grew up on the Tulalip Reservation (like, west central Washington) so I wasn't taught Cowlitz in schools, but I think I was taught some Lushootseed which is sort of the trade language of that region that a few different tribes shared

The Cowlitz language has survived. We can even buy a Cowlitz tribal dictionary that, at least a few years ago was only made available to tribal members. I'm not sure if there are any native speakers of the language still around. My tribe recently opened up a casino and my hope is that the revenue from the casino is at least partially used to preserve the language and teach it to more people.

Hahaha, god damnit Hunter.

LabyrinthConvention163 karma

Hi! do you ever get jealous you don't have some kick ass naturalistic indian name like "runs with the silver fox" or "black storm", or are you just glad no one named you "seasonal flooding?"

Just_Joey341 karma

Honestly, I'm a little torn on this. Sure, it would be awesome if I had a more traditional name like "Man Who Wrestles Thunder", but I also am totally okay with my stupid non native last name.

Seriously though, a lot of the native struggle in Hollywood at least is that people expect natives to have traditional last names and if you don't have it, some non native casting directors and execs won't give you as many opportunities so we're sort of pressured to become stereotypes. (Growing long hair, changing our names so they sound more "native".) It's a whole thing that's very annoying, and if my legacy is that by being "Joey Clift", people are willing to accept natives outside of the small box we're allowed in, then I'll consider it worth it to not have a cooler sounding name. Hope that makes sense!

ButterKnifeScar143 karma

What is a common misconception about growing up in a reservation?

How does anti immigrants people react to you?

You were a child when the disney pocahontas got realised, what was your opinion as a kid on it?

What's your opinion on white people telling they are 1/8 cherokee?

Just_Joey372 karma

Good questions!

- I think some people believe that reservations are like a time machine to the 1700s with teepees and covered wagons everywhere. We live in houses or apartments. We have electricity. Every reservation is different in the same way that every tribe is different. There are rich reservations and there are poor reservations, but we're all humans that live in 2018 technologically.

- Honestly, I don't think I've talked to any anti immigrant types about this stuff!

- I remember as a kid I was excited about it because I loved Aladdin, The Lion King and all of the other Disney classics, but my mom and a lot of people on my reservation explained to me the films' many many problems. As I've grown and learned about the actual depressing story of Pocahontas, I think giving her life's story the Disney treatment was extremely insensitive and shouldn't have been done.

- Re: 1/8th Cherokee. Native identity is such a complicated subject. Traditionally, percentages and blood quantums were created by the US Government as another means to destroy native culture as part of what was called "Blood Quantum Laws". I've heard there are natives that are the chiefs of tribes that are 1/32 or 1/16 and I've never met an actual native person that's introduced themselves to me with their percentage. Also, we come in all skin tones. I think, and this is just me talking, that your involvement and knowledge of your culture is also a big part of your native identity. If you're 1/8th Cherokee but you've never set foot on your reservation and you know nothing about your tribe, then I'm not going to listen to you over someone that's 1/16th but spent their whole life involved in the culture. Whether you're enrolled or not is also a big part of it. Like, I'm enrolled Cowlitz. I have a tribal ID. Every tribe isn't federally recognized so if someone doesn't have a tribal card that doesn't mean they're not native, but it means more than a 23 and me print out if that makes sense.

TLDR on this one: This is a complicated subject and though having some biological tie to being native is important, there's a lot more that goes into this stuff than just skin color and saying "I'm 1/8th Cherokee"

Scrotesarelikegoats123 karma

This is a great response. Thank you. I'm 1/8 Sioux, white, blonde and green eyes. I never lived on a reservation, but my grandparents live on a reservation 5 miles from me. I have a tribal ID and was given an Indian name by my grandpa when I was a baby. I have my Indian name tattooed on me. I always lie and tell people I'm 1/4 native if they ask because they'll just brush me if I say I'm an 1/8. I know so much about my culture and I danced at powwows from the age of 4 to 12. My stepdad is 100% native and has been in my life since I was a baby. I don't know who my biological father is so I look at him like he's my real dad since he's raised me. My entire life has been centered around the Native American culture and it really sucks that I feel like I can't say I'm 1/8 native because people will roll their eyes and some smart ass will say they are too when they haven't had any experience or any knowledge of the culture.

Just_Joey98 karma

Ugh. I know how this goes. Personally, I don't think blood quantums are as important. All of that percentage stuff was created by the US government's blood quantum laws to help destroy native culture with the hope that we'll breed ourselves out of existence anyway. I've never asked another native what their percentage is.

As far as I'm concerned, if you've got a tribal card, you're native. Of course that doesn't mean that if you don't have a tribal card, you're not native because that's a whole other thing, but if you're an enrolled member of a tribe, it feels like such a dumb waste of time to argue 1/8th versus 1/16th or whatever.

XeroAnarian98 karma

your involvement and knowledge of your culture is also a big part of your native identity.

This hits home with me. I'm (supposedly) 1/16th Cherokee. My mom would sometimes check "American Indian or Alaska Native" when filling out forms regarding my race growing up. Eventually I told her to stop, and I've never checked that myself. She doesn't see a problem with it, but I try to tell her, she wasn't raised in the culture, and neither was I. I'm not going to claim to belong to something that I hardly know anything about.

Part of me thinks we aren't even part Cherokee, as the guy she showed me a picture of that was full blooded had a thick-ass mustache... I said he's Italian,

Just_Joey160 karma

Good on you!

Something that happens often in the entertainment industry is, people will find out they have some small biological tie to being native, they'll start checking that box when submitting for jobs and auditioning for things (even though they've done zero research into their culture) and they'll end up getting opportunities over actual natives.

An example of this happening in my career.

I wrote for a big diversity comedy showcase that happens in Hollywood every year. They always try to have a native person that's part of the cast and sometimes the native's credentials can be a little "questionable." When I met the native actor my year, I started talking to them about native stuff as one does. They didn't know what tribe they were part of. They were in their 40s and they told me "Oh, my aunt told me that my great grandmother was native last year so I started checking that box on auditions and now I'm in this show!" This is a major network showcase that thousands of people audition for. I know a bunch of legit talented natives that didn't get this spot. There's usually only one "native" spot in this show that only happens once a year and it went to someone that just "heard he might be native" from a relative the year before.

Similarly, a lot of the major comedy theaters in Los Angeles have diversity scholarships every year where they give free class credits to people of color. I heard that one of the heads of one of the theater scholarships was just telling their white friends to just say they were native to get free classes. Once again, there are actual natives that submitted for this that didn't get these spots because some non white dude wanted to give his non diverse friends free classes.

This happens all the time and it is so frustrating so sincerely, thanks for not doing that.



tabytha56 karma

Keep in mind that those genetic tests are an expression of the traits your DNA 'decided' to display, not gospel on where you came from. If you were raised heavily within the culture, then that can't be taken from you. Of course, that doesn't mean you should walk around and be like "OH BUT I CAN TOTALLY WEAR TOTALLY UNRELATED WAR BONNETS TO MUSIC FESTIVALS BC I'M TOOOTES CHEROKEE". You're still white. But it's important to remember that one of the effects of genocide is the creation of a diaspora, where many people are distanced from their roots by design - and so long as you're treating the culture respectfully and recognizing your place of privilege above people who cannot escape the issues, then you're good.

Just_Joey44 karma

This! Just be respectful and we cool :)

ForbiddenText68 karma


Just_Joey46 karma

Hahaha, I genuinely love it when this happens.

DarthNetflix12 karma

Does that happen often to you or other Native people you know?

Just_Joey21 karma

I haven't seen it in person, but it's definitely happened to friends of mine!

HuskerDave60 karma

Some Fun facts:

  1. The Principal Chief of the Cherokee nation (Largest Cherokee Tribe) is 1/32nd Cherokee by blood.

  2. The term "by blood" actually has nothing to do with DNA makeup. This term was used long before we could identify DNA characteristics.

  3. You can't use actual DNA to gain tribal membership. You have to use birth/marriage certificates or other documents that connect you to an enrolled lineal ancestor, who is listed on the “DAWES ROLL”. You could show up to a tribal council meeting with a "you are the father" DNA test and still be denied membership.

  4. The Dawes Rolls, also known as the "Final Rolls", are the lists of individuals who were accepted as eligible for tribal membership in the "Five Civilized Tribes": Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles. This list was created between 1898 and 1914.

Source: Pale face that grew up in the Cherokee and Creek/Muskogee Nation (AKA 30% of Oklahomans)

Just_Joey39 karma

Every tribe is a little different with this stuff, but I think my tribe has a similar deal. It's all blood relation / being able to prove lineage. My mom is enrolled so when I was a kid she enrolled me. Someone's job at my tribe is to keep track of this stuff and they can track lineage to the point of knowing which specific band of Cowlitz I'm part of. It's all crazy interesting stuff.

UncrownedKing703115 karma

What are some things that made you sit there and say “hey that’s pretty funny” and start writing down comedy?

Just_Joey250 karma

It was sort of a long road for me. As is the case with a lot of comedy folk, I was bullied a ton growing up and in a lot of ways, shows like The Simpsons, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The State made my weird world view feel "seen" in a way that the people I went to school with didn't. Eventually, I became the sarcastic kid in the back of the class through school and I started to throw jokes into my English papers in high school and college. I remember writing an English 101 paper about how Hulk Hogan could beat Hercules in a fight that the teacher loved so much that he read it to the whole class. Eventually, I started doing stand up, writing comedy bits for college TV shows because they needed to fill air time and at the time, I thought I was going to be a television weather man so I wanted practice on air. A show I wrote won a big college comedy award, all my professors said "hey kid, you should just do comedy instead of news", I moved to Los Angeles and just kept working hard and pushing and now I'm where I'm at. Hope that answered your question!

TLDR: There wasn't one moment where I just started writing comedy. I more sprinkled comedy throughout the non comedic moments of my life until my life just eventually became all comedy.

pregnantbaby72 karma

So you’re saying if I wrote an art history paper on the movie Muppets at the Met, and that nothing else motivates me to write except to write humurously, that I might consider making a career change as a physical laborer?

Just_Joey55 karma

Yes exactly.

CubeLifeDeskJob86 karma

On a scale of 1-10, (1 being not at all, 10 being Very) how important was it that the Indians change their mascot and team name?

Just_Joey505 karma

Personally, I think it's an 8 in terms of importance (Not that it's not important. It's just, with the amount of Indigenous women that go missing and are murdered every year and with the forced sterilization of first nations women that is happening in Canada right now, there are a lot of big problems hitting natives but that's a long and depressing aside).

I want teams like the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves and the Washington R-Words to change their name because a team being named after a broad racial group is weird (and the Washington team's case, it's just straight up racist). It's the same thing as calling them "The Cleveland White People". That's not something most people would be proud of. It would just be unusual.

Really, I want this team to follow the Florida State Seminoles model. They're named after an actual tribe and not just a broad racial group. Their mascot and logo specifically honor the regalia and colors of the Seminole tribe's flag. The Seminole tribe (I think) gets a cut of the merch money for that, which helps their people. If all of these teams with generic native names changed their names to actually honor the tribes who's land they're on, that would actually honor people and the money the tribe would earn form that would actually help natives.

CubeLifeDeskJob127 karma

First, thanks for answering.

I was surprised that you rated it so high (an 8). It was my misconception that most people didn't care. I'm glad you showed me otherwise. Secondly, I had no idea about the Florida State Seminoles actually giving a cut of their merch to the tribe. That sounds like it would be a great idea.

I listed to the This American Life episode "The Little War on the Prarie" this week, about the history of Native American / white people in Mankato, MN. It BLEW MY MIND.

Just_Joey195 karma

Of course! Thanks for asking!

Granted, I can't speak for all natives but my friends and I are very passionate about these teams changing their names. Natives statistically graduate high school and college at a much lower rate than other people. One of the biggest killers in native country is suicide. We're often put in positions where we feel like we have no hope and I think that part of that has to do with how we're portrayed in media.

There are like 5 million of us, but we're sort of invisible outside of roles in western movies where we wear loin clothes and talk stoically while flute music plays. For a lot of people, they only know of Indians via these weird sports mascot caricatures. Most sports mascots are animals (bears, wildcats, etc) and I think just having "Indians" or "Braves" alongside those mascots further dehumanizes us to a lot of people, including ourselves. It's a whole big thing and like I mentioned before, at least with the Seminoles, the tribe is benefitting from it and since the team is honoring that tribe, they're not reduced to caricature to the extreme of Chief Wahoo or whatever.

WackTheHorld18 karma

Forced sterilization of indigenous women? Can you elaborate? I'm Canadian, and I don't know if I've heard of this.

Just_Joey103 karma

This article goes into it a little bit. It's been happening as recently as 2017.

And the UN stepped in about it as recently as last week.

It's a big thing that more people should really know about.

ForbiddenText0 karma

forced sterilization of first nations women that is happening in Canada right now

I don't think it's happening right now (good Lord, that'd shatter our world image right quick) it's just that the govt is finally talking about it and getting ready to make reparations.

Just_Joey13 karma

Its reportedly happened as recently as 2017 so maybe not "right now" but basically right now.

MonkeyMarilyn5 karma

level 4

Yup. Still happening.

ForbiddenText-1 karma

To be fair, the article says 'some' women have 'alleged' that they were 'coerced' by random doctors. I'm not saying it's not happening, but the original statement made it sound like it was a government exercise.

I don't understand what "level 4" means

Just_Joey6 karma

It's enough of a thing that the United Nations stepped in as recently as last week.

TiBlode60 karma

Hi, how are you?

Just_Joey56 karma

I'm very good, thanks! How are you?

TiBlode47 karma

I'm doing fine and you?

Just_Joey47 karma

No complaints! You?

AstroNards48 karma

Do you perceive alcohol to be a bigger problem for native Americans than the rest of the general population?

My aim isn’t to be insulting or stereotypical here. But it is or used to be a stereotype at one point in America that the Native American community had a troubling relationship with alcohol - see any number of firewater jokes. I’m sure you’ve made one or two yourself over the years.

From my experience (and that of some of my liver doctor mentors), many of the poorer res communities in the near west and Dakotas have many residents with drinking and liver problems. From what I’ve seen - and this correlates with the American culture at large, apart from the reservations - there seems to be a correlation between the poverty level and the level of alcoholism, but as a physician who spends a lot of time thinking about how crazy common boozing has become (so so many options and more products than ever l before) and worrying about how effed my generation may someday find itself, I wonder if you have any particular insight to share about this issue. To go one further, I used to work in comedy, too, and my god, the drinking. Kind of an unformed question, and i hope I haven’t offended or confused you.

Just_Joey227 karma

Good question! I'm not a doctor so I can't speak on the biology of native alcoholism, but here goes!

I think it's less a "natives are biologically predisposed to alcoholism" thing and more a "poverty and depression are common in native country and those things can lead to alcoholism" thing.

A lot of people don't get how fresh the wounds are in native country. Native civil rights didn't happen until the late 60s. The last US boarding school closed in the 1990s. The US government has done messed up things to various tribes as recently as this year. There are at least five million of us, but we're pretty invisible in mainstream society outside of racist caricatures and sports mascots. There's a lot of hurt and that often leads to things like substance abuse.

That said, I've never drank before and a lot of my native friends are in the same boat, so it's not a universal problem (and I haven't done the research on this, but I've heard that the amount of actual alcoholism that exists among natives is a lot less than people think it is).

Obliviosso45 karma

Joey!! I had no idea you grew up on a reservation. That’s so cool!!

Got a couple ?’s for you.

How do you try to insert your experience into your comedy writing?

And also,

So I just found out I’m 18% Native American. I’m Mexican so that’s no great surprise, but I want to educate myself more about my ancestry and try to feel closer. How would you suggest I go about this?

I also want to be respectful to someone with your experience and not diminish it. Basically I don’t wanna pull an Elizabeth Warren.

It’s me Steven btw :)

Just_Joey100 karma

Oh shit, how's it going Steven!?

- For a long time I couldn't figure out how to write comedy about native stuff without it coming across as bitter or sad so I just saw myself as a "native voice" in the writers room. If someone pitched something that was offensive or ignorant toward natives, I would try to correct them politely and use my experiences to help frame their pitch in a way that was helpful. Recently I've started writing more about native issues and the way I've done that is to focus on all of the misconceptions people have about natives because god, there are so many weird misconceptions people have. Jon Stewart had a philosophy on The Daily Show where he stressed that they weren't making fun of national tragedies, they're making fun of how the news reports on national tragedies and that's how I try to tackle this stuff. I'm not making fun of the plight of native people with my writing. I'm making fun of the ignorance non natives have about the plight of native people, but this is all overly philosphical comedy writing mumbo jumbo on my part.

- Nice! My advice is to do a lot of listening. If you know what tribe, google them and see if they have a tribal office. If they do, call them up and ask if there any any books on the tribe's history. Some tribes keep records so your or your mothers or your grandmother's last name might be on file with them. If it is, they can tell you what band or family you're part of. They might help you or they might not, but from my experience if you're polite and explain your situation, people will oftentimes do their best to help.

xenite102534 karma

What are some of your favorite reservation food concoctions?

Growing up, it was always a special treat when we mixed corn syrup with peanut butter then nuked it, just eating it by the spoon. I grew up on Oklahoma Cherokee commodities.

Just_Joey48 karma

Hahaha, amazing. Besides Frybread, I was a big fan of microwaving canned tuna and eating it. It smelled gross, but as a kid I loved it. (I don't think that was a rez thing so much as an "I had weird taste as a kid" thing.

NAbsentia33 karma

Are there any films that you feel treat Native Americans well?

Just_Joey73 karma

Smoke Signals by Sherman Alexie is the high water mark standard. It's a comedy about contemporary natives on a reservation that came out in the late 90s.

Besides that, I thought Eugene Brave Rock's character in Wonder Woman was great. I loved that he was just another member of the team and he didn't also have magic powers or some bullshit. Also, he wasn't wearing a loin cloth which as stupid as it sounds, that felt like a big win.

The first season of Westworld was terrible when it came to native issues, but they really did Zahn McClarnon's character right in season two. Making him one of the main characters in normal, contemporary clothes in the "Westworld Pitch" scene from early in the season and giving him his own episode later in the season where they really made him a fleshed out, three dimensional character (which is rare for native roles).

Part of the problem is that oftentimes, these films are written by and directed by non natives that don't do a ton of research but in Hollywood we're pushing, there are a handful of us doing good work and eventually (hopefully) there will be more and better native representation in the industry on screen and off.

RudeTurnip27 karma

Joey, what are your thoughts on granting statehood to the larger reservations? Do you think that type of enfranchisement would help right past wrongs and Native Americans a stronger political voice?

Just_Joey82 karma

Good question! Honestly, I don't know a ton about native politics so I'm just a "dude with opinions" on this. Personally, I'd like the US Government to stop going back on so many of the treaties they have with various tribes (Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline / trying to take away reservation land from the Wampanoag tribe which greeted the pilgrims at Plymouth rock). Once they stop screwing us over with that stuff, then we can start talking about things like Statehood.

LeoBravo23 karma

Hi! I’ve only met one Native American but I was like 6 at the time and it didn’t occur to me to ask:

What’s your preferred nomenclature? I know political correctness is often anathema for a comedy writer but it’d be really helpful if you could sort the following terms:

  • Native American

  • Aboriginal

  • First Nations

  • Indian

  • Injun

  • Redskin

...into three categories:

  1. “That’s fine”,

  2. “I’d prefer you didn’t but whatever”

  3. “OK now you’re just being an asshole”

You don’t have to answer in a way that represents anyone’s opinion but your own. I assume there’s at least one (and probably two) category threes there but I want to confirm, and I wanna know if there are ones you tolerate but you wish you didn’t have to.

Not a fun question, I know, but you’d be helping me out if you school me on this

Just_Joey41 karma

Haha, thanks for making this easy for me.


- That's Fine

Native American

First Nations

- “I’d prefer you didn’t but whatever”



- “OK now you’re just being an asshole”



I'm not sure if there's one correct way to say it for this stuff. I refer to myself as either Native American or American Indian in writing. I think American Indian might be the more technically correct term but I'm just basing that on my tribal card saying "Cowlitz Indian Tribe". I tend to use Native American, but it's often shortened to "Native" when talking to friends. "Indigenous" is also used sometimes. The R-Word and Injun are insulting and shouldn't be used.

houseoftherisingfun7 karma

Growing up in Oklahoma, we were taught that the word “Oklahoma” actually means “land of the red people” and it was seen as a revered or honorable term. Is that actually just super racist and I never realized? I loved living in the land of the “5 civilized tribes” but now I also feel like that term is terrible.

Just_Joey9 karma

I don't know the origin of the term, but as someone that's a part of one of the 500 some tribes that aren't "civilized" it sounds bad to me!

(Of course, I could be missing a ton of context here so that's just my gut opinion without doing any research).

ImNotBanksy22 karma

What do Natives think about DNA testing services such as 23 and Me?

Just_Joey107 karma

I can't speak for all natives, but ugh. I think that stuff is so annoying.

I mean, the companies themselves aren't annoying. It's just, native identity is such a confusing and complex thing and your involvement in the culture is a big part of it. If you discovered that you are biologically part Cherokee for example, that's great and you should research your culture because native history and culture is rad and interesting, but I think what happens oftentimes is someone will get their results back and they'll immediately think they're some expert on native history, and they'll start speaking for all natives in public spaces from what they say is a position if authority because they got a genealogy test that says their great grandmother shook hands with a Cherokee elder a hundred years ago. Because there aren't a ton of visible, famous, well known natives that speak on this stuff, often times these people's weird messages and thoughts on native country will be seen as "authentic" when they are far from it, which is pretty damaging to native culture and how non natives view us. It's just spreading ignorance.

ImNotBanksy29 karma

Thanks for the response! I appreciate the explanation from your shoes and I can completely understand why it is such a complex issue. I'm in the opposite camp, where I was raised 'knowing' that I was part Sioux from my Grandmother's first marriage, until the 23 and Me results showed that I was surprisingly ~25% Portuguese and 0% Native. Still think Sioux culture is rad and interesting!

Just_Joey37 karma

What you're going through isn't uncommon and I have a few friends that have run into the same thing. I think for a lot of people, saying you were "part Indian" was this big exotic thing that people said (and still say) because it makes them seem more interesting or exotic and it can be hard to track this stuff so people thought it was okay to just make it up. Eventually, this gets passed down generationally as fact and people run into the exact situation you ran into. I totally get the frustration of someone in your shoes because hey, being native is rad but I think you've got the right attitude about it.

MonkeyMarilyn29 karma

I wish I could find the article but a lot of the false claims of Native history also have to do with land claims back in the day, so there was an agenda to it and then it became part of mythology. Also, 23&Me type apps can't differentiate between Native American and Indigenous South American so basically it means you have DNA from someone that could be from the top of Ellesmere Island to the tip of Argentina.

Just_Joey13 karma

This! It's all such a big confusing mess.

OzymandiasKoK2 karma

because they got a genealogy test that says their great grandmother shook hands with a Cherokee elder a hundred years ago.

That's not how it works!

Just_Joey6 karma

Some people think that's how it works and it's SO FRUSTRATING!

nemo108020 karma

Did your people ever celebrate Thanksgiving?

Just_Joey64 karma

Before European colonization, I don't think so? After European colonization, we do, but we're not happy about it.

pahobee48 karma

How does that work? You all bring a dish to Grandma’s but mutter “this is bullshit” under your breath? (I mean I do that but it’s just cuz my family is nuts, not because my people are severely marginalized.)

Just_Joey69 karma

Hahaha, honestly, this. For me at least, it's always been a good excuse to have a big dinner with loved ones, but there are definitely a lot of jokes thrown around that are to the tone of "Hey colonizers, you're welcome".

pserenity20 karma

The first Thanksgiving with my white boyfriend was hilarious. My dad always cooks the turkey and my bf was like “you didn’t have to do all this for me.” He thought First Nations people didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving and we were doing the whole thing because he’s the first non-native person in the family. We’ve had a turkey every Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, and New Years ever since I can remember, with or without non-native guests.

Just_Joey9 karma

Hahaha, this hits close to home. I've had plenty of ex girlfriends apologize to me about the weirdest things. Recently, a woman I dated apologized to me because she dressed as Disney's Pocahontas when she was five. It was a sweet thing to bring up, but why would I be offended at something she did over 20 years ago?

[deleted]1 karma


Just_Joey47 karma

Let's make a deal. I'll give you back grumpy Thanksgiving if you give us back all of those weird racist sports mascots.

King-Boss-Bob10 karma

I’m not from America but deal!

Just_Joey26 karma

Oh shit. I'm so glad we worked this out.

puppygrl66619 karma

hey love yr book ! i got a copy of it at the sanctum a little while ago and really fucked w it. how did you go about getting a book published ?

also. when are yall doing another showcase ! i’m hella bummed i missed it lol

Just_Joey36 karma

Oh shit, thanks for picking up a copy! It was so fun to write and I'm glad you liked it :)

This book was self published. It was my first book and I didn't know what I was doing when I started, but I have a few friends that have done it before so they walked me through the process. Anyone can publish something on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing (and they'll even print and sell paperback copies for you). If you don't know how to make a layout or a cover or need a proofreader or anything like that, you can find people on Fiverr to do that for you for pretty cheap. My book is stocked in a few stores around the world and that's just from me e-mailing places myself and mailing copies for people to review. Anyone can publish a book without a publisher, it just takes some footwork.

Haha, it's okay! We're definitely going to do another showcase or two next year. The last one was so fun and you should definitely check the next one out!

the_opoponax17 karma

What was going to tribal schools like? How was it different from, or similar to, "typical" public schools?

Just_Joey39 karma

I can't really compare it to non native public schools because I only have my own experiences to draw from, but I think a big part of what was different about it is that they featured a lot more native history and cultural teachings. Many people in American only spend a day or two in November talking about all Native history. I've heard that in some states, all native history is condensed into one paragraph that is quickly taught in five minutes in one class in 4th grade which is so crazy to me. There are over 500 tribes which are all different. Imagine summarizing all European history into a paragraph and having it make sense.

We had field trips to long houses and the remains of boarding schools. Assemblies featured hoop dancers and traditional native storytellers. We would learn legends from that tribe and perform them in front of the class. All of that stuff was just baked into the curriculum and now that I know how rare that is, I'm thankful I was able to go through it.

the_opoponax12 karma

That's really cool!

Yeah, as someone who went to a mix of public and parochial schools, we got pretty much nothing. And when Native Americans were mentioned at all, it was in history class. On the one hand, Louisiana requires 8th graders to have a full year of Louisiana History, and at least at my school we talked a lot about Louisiana Native tribes. My hometown is also named after one of those tribes, and a lot of members still live around there. So maybe that had an impact? But, again, for like a month in the beginning of the year before all the white colonizers show up and dominate everything for the rest of the class. And never in a contemporary context. Like it was never mentioned that there are still members of the Houmas tribe living in our town, being normal people right down the street.

Just_Joey45 karma

That's awesome / Ugh, frustrating.

Oftentimes with natives, we're treated like a relic from the past. There's a reason that grown adults will say things like "I didn't know Natives still existed" (which happens A LOT) and it's 100% because of stuff like this.

A big fight in native Hollywood is we're trying to get natives in contemporary roles on television and in movies. Like, I want a Native American person in a sitcom that works as an accountant in 2018 and when they talk, flute music doesn't play. I know it's asking a lot, but I think we can do it. Just treat us like normal people.

TheBigVitus17 karma

Was the band Redbone gaining huge success a big deal in the Native community? I've been listening to them a lot lately and wondering how they are thought of nowadays, if at all.

Just_Joey44 karma

They blew up in the 60s which is a few decades before my time, but it's a big deal for me now! In Los Angeles, we recently replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day and they played a free concert for it, which I think is great. They're involved in various native communities in Los Angeles, and I'd love to talk to them about what it was like being the first big Native rock band.

ShotgunForFun16 karma

Do you think it's still a requirement to live in LA/NYC to successfully work in comedy? Does Atlanta have enough going on?

Just_Joey34 karma

I think it all depends on what you want to do! If you want to act, there are a lot of shows that shoot in and around Atlanta so there are definitely opportunities there. If you want to write for television, most of the writers rooms are in LA or NYC so you'd need to live there to get / do those jobs. If you want to write articles for the internet, a lot of comedy sites (Nerdist, Cracked, The Onion) have freelancers all over the country that get paid to write. If you want to start a successful comedy youtube channel, you could theoretically do that from anywhere with an internet connection.

Most of the comedy infrastructure exists in NYC or LA and it's easier to get jobs in those places, but that doesn't mean they're the only places to work in comedy. Hope this is helpful!

hi_welcome2chilis14 karma

Some of my Native friends post on social media about the 'decolonization of America' (and Canada). I'm unclear on what that means or what the process would look like.

Can you comment on what this is, and if this is an issue on many Native folk's minds?


EDIT: and do you have a preference on Native Americans/American Indians/First Nations? Sorry to ask such typical questions, but it's always interesting to peer into another culture for a few moments. :)

Just_Joey27 karma

Thanks for the question! I don't know a ton about the "decolonization of America' (and Canada)" and besides seeing the Decolonize hashtag showing up on twitter here and there, I haven't seen it talked about a ton. I'll have to look into it!

Haha, it's okay. I get asked questions like this all the time. Personally, I prefer "Native American". The others are okay too. "First Nations" is a term primarily used for indigenous Canadian people but sometimes natives use it because it sounds cool. American Indian is probably the textbook accurate term. Heck, it says "Cowlitz Indian Tribe" on my tribal ID, I just don't use it as much because I have friends actually from India and it can get confusing.

Rumpullpus11 karma

Fellow washingtonian here. How did you feel about living on a reservation. How do you feel about it now? Do you think things would be better if there were no reservations at all or do you feel like the tribes really value their autonomy? Personally I wish we didn't need reservations at all as there seems to be a lot of downsides to it economically.

Just_Joey29 karma

When I was a kid, it was the only life experience I knew so I didn't have strong opinions about it one way or the other. As an adult, I've grown to appreciate how cool all of that stuff was to experience firsthand.

For your second question, I think every tribe is different. Like, the concept of reservations, forcing natives off of their land, the trail of tears and the Indian Removal Act of the 1830s were all terrible atrocities so if I could trade reservations for not having the genocide of native people over the past several hundred years, I'd take that deal.

That said, I think there are financial benefits to reservations. After fighting for it for around 160 years, my tribe (Cowlitz) finally got our reservation a few years ago. The reservation allowed us to open a casino last year which we couldn't do on non reservation land. The money from that casino is funding resources for my people and my culture. For me, my tribe's reservation gives me hope that we will become prosperous and my culture will be preserved for at least a little while.

But, there are over five hundred tribes in the U.S. Every tribe and every reservation is going through a different thing. In my situation, there's a huge economic benefit to my reservation but I don't know enough about every tribe to be able to say that that's true across the board for every tribe. But, I do think that we all value as much autonomy from the US government as we can get (because of the whole genocide thing).

Usernamechecksoutsid9 karma

What do Indians think about ELizabeth Warren now that she’s proven to be a liar?

Just_Joey18 karma

I wouldn't say Elizabeth Warren was proven to be a liar. Misinformed, but not a liar.

I think in her case, one of her parents claimed being native decades ago because "they heard one of their grandparents was native". Up until recently with DNA tests (which aren't always perfect), it was hard to track this stuff definitively. I have a lot of friends that are native, but can't prove it because their great grandparents didn't fill out the census a hundred years ago because they were suspicious of the government. I also have a few friends that ran into what Elizabeth Warren ran into, where they'd just always heard they were native from some relative, they didn't question it and then they looked into it, they found out that their family member just made it up because they thought it made them sound exotic. (A few people in this AMA ran into the same thing and talked about their experiences above).

What frustrates me about Warren is that she didn't handle the whole thing that well. Watching her DNA test video, I know that she understands that there's a difference between a genealogy test and actually being a member of a tribe, but she sure buried the lead on that one.

The fallout from her whole thing is how much it over simplified this big complex native identity conversation we're having in native country and because people on both sides of the political spectrum know so little about native issues, people all over the place were being openly racist about it in a way that was depressing and shitty to watch.

Really, no one looked good coming out of that whole thing.

Steadman5 karma

Do you feel different states treat native populations differently?

live in WA, spent time in FL and OK. OK seemed to have much more native-based stuff out there. On the radio, on TV, etc. WA state just seems to hype the casinos (Shout outs Tulalip Resort though), and FL it's non-existent outside of college mascots.

Just_Joey3 karma

I'm only really educated on WA tribes (Tulalip Resort Shout Out Received!) but my understanding is that colonization started from the east and moved west and the farther west you got, the more likely the US Government was to cut deals. That's not to say that every east coast tribe was devastated (The Florida Seminoles from my understanding are doing very well) and every west coast tribe wasn't treated well (the California Tongva tribe got a pretty raw deal IIRC). It's just a "comparatively speaking" thing.

It's the difference between getting shot in the face and shot in the stomach in that both options would suck to go through, but one of them would suck slightly less than the other while still sucking a whole lot. Hope this makes sense!

officeworker20174 karma

I have heard that it is looked down upon for Natives to leave their tribe and go into the city. Is that true and why?

Just_Joey5 karma

In some cases it it! There are two types of natives regarding the topic you're describing. "Urban Indians" and "Reservation Indians".

Urban Indians are people like me who live in a big city and though we're involved in and interested in our culture, we've moved off our aboriginal lands to pursue a career or a dream or whatever.

Reservation Indians are natives that live on the reservation and try to focus more on preserving the cultural aspects of being native. (Part of this is, I think, due to fear and suspicion of the outside world caused by the several hundred years of being screwed over we've received from the US Government).

I didn't grow up on my tribe's reservation (I'm Cowlitz. I grew up on the Tulalip reservation) so I didn't receive any blowback. I'm not saying that there's a stigma toward every native that leaves the reservation, but I'm sure that's probably a thing in some cases, but that's just me speculating. It wasn't the case for me, but maybe it's the case for other people. Regardless, it's not universal either way. There are at least five million of us and all of our experiences are different. Hope that answers your question!

Team_speak4 karma

Hi Joey! Do you credit the Poison Clip and Hip Hop HQ when asked about honing your craft? Signed, your favorite PDA

Just_Joey4 karma

Yes, this The Poison Clip and the Hip Hop HQ are my only major comedic influences.


radii3143 karma

do native people think white people are funny/annoying when they act like native people have mystical powers and insight?

Pow Wow Highway pro or con?

Just_Joey5 karma

Oh man, we definitely find that sort of thing annoying / offensive.

I haven't seen Pow Wow Highway but I'll check it out!