SRQ Book Club: We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy by Kliph Nesteroff

Arts & Culture

BY ROXANNE BAKER, BOOKSELLER AT BOOKSTORE1 SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY FEB 19, 2021

Kliph Nesteroff’s interesting upbringing in a Russian pacifist community in British Columbia is nearly as much of a mouthful as his new non-fiction book’s title: We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy.

Kliph, a true classic movie and comedy fan, honed his concern for the underrepresented on the streets of Vancouver Canada, working as, for all practical purposes, a social worker. Here, he judiciously chronicles the plights of several Native American comedians and entertainers. That’s the nutshell description of a well researched history lesson of how horrendously Native Americans have been treated across time. Certainly not new news, but like any harmful racist deed must be remembered in order for evolution to continue.

A figure who is the focus of several chapters is Will Rogers, both Senior and Junior. The former being a Mark Twainesque political witticist and the latter jumping into politics as an American Congressman. Both men used their wit and intelligence to skewer and wrangle politicians to treat Natvie Americans as equal citizens. Nesteroff pulls no punches in his honesty of some Native Americans who wrongly punched down; Rogers, Sr. being one, who caused a boycott of Gulf Oil after his use of a racist slur on a radio broadcast.

Many of the stories have an uplifting against all odds conclusion. Charlie Hill, for instance, gained fame on comedy as the first Native American comedian to not only land late night shows such as Richard Pryor’s 1970’s Network show as well as Letterman and Leno’s, but even more importantly, to garner non-stereotypical choices that were respected in the entertainment industry.

Roxanne Baker is a Bookseller at BookStore1 Sarasota. Bookstore1Sarasota was opened in 2011 with one mission: to bring a high-quality independent bookstore to the Sarasota area. Their passion for the joy of books inspired them in the beginning and continues to drive them today. They offer a shopping experience curated with their customers in mind, and are gratified by the long-term relationships they have built with those who have come through their door: patrons and authors alike. 

Bookstore1, 12 S Palm Ave, Sarasota, 941-365-7900. Photo credit: Jim Herrington/Cover courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

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