Sunday, January 15, 2012

Raven Clan's Gramma Susie Makes For Non-Stop Laughter

Gramma Susie with 'grandson' Caleb
I wanted to put some catchy line in the title, but it was the performance of Sharon Shorty as Gramma Susie, not just the words, that had the audience laughing so hard last night at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

Her act was part of an eight day "alerNative Theatre Festival."

There was a second, one actor play - Tales of an Urban Indian - by Darrell Dennis which tapped into an edgier humor to bring underlying issues in Gramma Susie right up to the surface.  I'll put up video of Darrell Dennis in the next post.   In this post, I offer you some video from Gramma Susie.

Sharon Shorty after performance

As I edited the video, I laughed over and over again each time I saw the clips. It's not so much the jokes, but how she tells them. True genius. And she's been winning awards for her performances even though they don't quite fit into most standard categories.
"Sharon Shorty has been voted one of the TOP 10 YUKONERS to meet (Up Here Magazine, 1999) and is from the Tlingit, Northern Tutchone and Norwegian People. Sharon is from the Raven Clan and was raised with the storytelling tradition of her southern Yukon community." 
Sharon is also an award winning actor (Aurora Award, 1997) and Storyteller (Aurora Award, 1998). She has received the Ross Charles Award (1999), the CTV Fellowship (1999) and The Yukon Filmmaker's Fund Award (1999). And more importantly, Sharon is an award-winning Bannock-Maker! (New Yukon Indian Days, 2003)  She was also recently named "Best Comedian" and "Best way to dress as an Elder".
She also performed at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  Find out more at her website.

I edited the video a bit out of order so you could hear her dead-on raven call first (and last.)  She's from the raven clan and when she introduces herself, she gives her lineage in English and Tlingit.  There's a hint of the humor already, but it really starts after honoring her heritage.  If you can use a smile, just watch the video. All of it.


By the way, I asked Sharon after the performance if I could post the video and she generously consented.  And also said to credit 'grandson' Caleb who plays the drum in one clip.  (He gave permission too.)

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