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In recognition of NAIDOC Week 2020, we are spotlighting some of the most inspiring Indigenous creatives around. Here we talk to the funny comedian Stephanie Tisdell and hear about how she started telling jokes on stage, and what we can do this NAIDOC week to keep us informed in black Australian culture.

What is your full name? 

Stephanie Tisdell

Where were you born and where do you live now? 

I was born in Mt Isa (North-West QLD, right in the outback), but I’ve been in Brisbane since grade 1.

How long have you been a comedian for and how did you start your career? 

This is hard to answer for me! I did my first ever stand-up routine as a dare in a random pub in Dublin. I said “I’ve been dared to do this and have no choice, so if I’m crap, I’ll be able to tell. But if it’s good, buy me a drink.” And there were drinks lined up on the bar for me.

Then about 6 months later I did some open-mic in Brisbane, and I did maybe 6 spots over the space of 2.5 years before winning Deadly Funny. I always count Deadly Funny as when I really started – in 2014.

Tell us about truth telling through jokes… how is it making an impact? 

I believe there is an inherent obligation to use my voice and platform to tell the truth.

For me, that truth is based off of my experiences and my life. I write a lot of jokes about white guilt, about awkward missteps and about how Indigenous Australia is perceived by both the public and the Government.

There are experiences you cannot truly appreciate if you don’t wear the skin of an “outsider” or someone who represents a marginalised community.

In so many ways I am privileged and incredibly lucky, and so juxtaposing that with the reactions of my peers about my heritage or watching governmental policy that affects my community often reveals the stark reality of the burden you wear as an Indigenous Australian.

In a real sense, I can never tell what impact I’m making, I just have to trust that the fans I have and the following I build has connected with me and/or my message.

And every single individual who becomes a part of that is a step towards reconciliation. I base that on the simple fact that if you’re starting from a place of mutual respect, an open discussion is much easier to have.

Tell us what NAIDOC Week means to you?

NAIDOC Is just such an awesome way to celebrate black culture. If for the rest of the year Australia diligently avoids the topic, NAIDOC is the week we get to be proud and stand strong!

How can others get involved with NAIDOC Week in a meaningful way?

This is the bare minimum to me: learn the name of the land you reside in. Acknowledge it.

Silently, just in your head, acknowledge that those before you loved the land so much and built their culture around it.

Why not even jump on Google and search “Influential Indigenous woman” or something as simple as that and learn the story of those who have represented the less represented.

If you’re into history, you’ll probably actually love it!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Watch an Indigenous movie like Top End Wedding or the Sapphires!

Visit Steph’s website here for upcoming gigs

Follow Steph here