The ‘Probably Cousins’ Comedy Troupe is pooling efforts to bring comedy to Indian Country

Fried Chicken, a Pocket Flute and the Foreskins - Meet the ‘Probably Cousins’ Comedy Troupe

Cary Rosenbaum

Comedians, in some cases, take a survival plan. The pursuit of a dream presents obstacles which very few can surpass, but must to be allowed into the upper echelon, which is where Charlie Hill stands.

Four of America’s most success-hungry Native comics came up with their own longevity plan, one not all-too-uncommon: banding together. Only this team of jokers—Chad Charlie, Kasey Nicholson, Sheldon Starr and Will Spottedbear—are not your standard cast. They are—despite some noticeable genetic and comedic differences—‘Probably Cousins.’

Chad Charlie, Kasey Nicholson, Sheldon Starr and Will Spottedbear are "Probably Cousins"   - Courtesy Photo

Instead of a one-night stand, the group plans to stay for a while—in tribal communities, that is.

“A lot of comedians just go for the show and then leave,” Charlie said. “When we travel, we want to learn about tribes, engage in communities.”

The comedy troupe wants to leave its mark through inspiration and healing, sharing real stories and activating mind-calming endorphins through exercise. Their show, which can vary from clean to dirty comedy depending on the audience, touches on a variety of topics, depending on who’s holding the microphone.

Spottedbear, for instance, jokes he has been an Indian for about six years. The 32-year-old Pittsburgh native living in Minneapolis is only just now coming into his identity as a Cheyenne River Sioux.

Suffering from the same dilemma, Charlie, 26, who’s Ahousaht and African-American, often references his heritage with, “My mother didn’t know whether to feed me fried chicken or fried bread.”

As the most animated member of the group, Nicholson—the elder of the group at 37 —brings energy to his identity crisis. “It’s hard being Indian,” the Gros Ventre tribal member says as part of his usual bit. “In order for me to prove I’m not Asian or Mexican, I have to pull this [pocket-sized flute] out. I tell them, ‘It’s not the size of the flute that matters, it’s how you play it!’”

Starr may be the most intriguing of the Cousins. A heavy-metal guitar enthusiast turned comic, his quick hits keep the audiences guessing. The Oglala Lakota says that spontaneity is what makes the group special.

“We each have different views on everything, coming from different parts from the U.S.,” the 24-year-old says.

The four were introduced to each other during a comedy contest during the 11th Red Nation Film Festival & Awards Show. Admittedly, the four realized they were each floating in the comedy world, looking for a fresh start.

“I think in some odd sense it was just us four drifting,” said Nicholson. “What should we do? Should we get a comedy group started?”

“We wanted to set up a tour that not a lot of people are doing,” Spottedbear said.

“We started coming together and started realizing that rather than being in competition, we started working together,” Charlie says. “And that formed a brotherhood.”

Their first gig saw the Probably Cousins—minus Nicholson and Starr—entertain a small First Nation in British Columbia, the Ahousaht, during its annual membership meeting.

They kept it clean, although a name change of the Washington, D.C. based professional football team to the ‘foreskins,’ may have crossed the line, laughed Charlie.

Nicholson, of Billings, Montana, and Starr, of Rapid City, South Dakota hope to get in on the next act. “I’m looking forward to bringing a different palate of flavor to the comedy scene,” he said.

Though they haven’t performed together just yet, the Probably Cousins Comedy/Motivational Tour can be booked as an ensemble by calling (206) 946-0133.


Sheldon Starr

Kasey Nicholson



Will Spottedbear


Chad Charlie




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