Local performer Adrianne Chalepah will headline Saturday as a fundraiser for the Children’s Kiva Montessori School.
“It’s going to be fun,” Chalepah said. “I’m just happy and look forward to seeing more comedy in Cortez. We all need to laugh.”
Chalepah, a Cortez resident, is a mother or three and some say the mother of Native American comedy. She tours across the country and started a group called Ladies of Native Comedy.
“I wanted to find other native women comics,” Chalepah said. “Our voices were severely lacking in mainstream media.”
Chalepah tours with a group of four women.
“We are definitely a novelty,” she said.
At age 29, Chalepah is determined to crush stereotypes. Chalepah is Kiowa/Apache and grew up in Anadarko, Okla., where she experienced poverty, alcoholism and abuse.
She said it all prepared her for a career in stand-up comedy and motivational speaking, a career that began while she attended Fort Lewis College.
She jokes and gives presentations on topics ranging from culture and pride, female empowerment to domestic violence and bullying.
“Because I received my bachelor’s of communication, I understand the power of media platforms,” Chalepah said. “I’ve always been a fan of comedy, since I was a little girl. And through comedy, I realized I was sharing with people really intimate things about my life, it made sense to me that I was filling in an area that is empty. You don’t hear from voices like mine. For example, I went to a boarding high school – a government, native boarding high school. I think that is an experience that people don’t know about.”
Comedy, Chalepah understands, is the best way to open dialogue.
“If can open a dialogue, I am happy,” she said.
But at the same time, Chalepah says her comedy generally reaches everyone in the audience.
“I would describe it as human comedy,” she said. “I perform to all different types of people. I want to be careful not to be labeled. I am a native comedian – that is just who I am – but at the same time, I want my comedy to be felt by everyone,” she said.
Chalepah made television history in 2013 by becoming the first Native American to star on the show “Bridezillas.”
Chizz Bah, a comedian from Farmington, will also appear on stage Saturday.
“I’ve seen her in actions and she is a riot,” Chalepah said.
Chalepah’s performances have gained recognition, landing her features in magazines and on television. In 2012, she was honored to open up for the First Lady Michelle Obama at a campaign event in Durango.
Chalepah is currently a mother of three boys, wife, and businesswoman.