Does the road to Hollywood success pass through a couple of northern Minnesota Indian reservations?
The men behind the Rez Comedy project hope so.
Rob Fairbanks and Jon Roberts – members of the Leech Lake and Red Lake bands of Ojibwe, respectively – are planning a road trip to a comedy competition in L.A. next week. They expect to visit with fellow Native American comedians along the way, with stops including the Badlands and Wounded Knee.
Oh, and they plan to bring a camera crew along to document the whole thing.
Fairbanks and Roberts hope to raise $20,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the trip and their documentary.
Roberts has been in comedy for five years – telling WDAZ he knows what it's like to drive 260 miles for five minutes on stage, followed by an immediate return trip.
Fairbanks got his start in comedy just last year but has gained popularity as the Rez Reporter, with his Rez Report Facebook page liked more than 40,000 times.
What's their motivation for the Rez Comedy project?
A good laugh, for starters. "Laughter brings communities together," they write on their Kickstarter page.
Beyond that, they'd like to give mainstream Americans some new associations with Indian reservations – and refute comic Dave Chapelle's oft-repeated line "I thought all Indians were dead."
Fairbanks tells the Bemidji Pioneer: " Humor is universal. We're going to California to show mainstream we're not dead, we're alive and we're funny."
Roberts adds: "People hear a lot of negativity about life on the reservations. What we're trying to do is show the positive side. There are talented people living here," the Pioneer reports.