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Happiness allowed at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Laughter never had it so good, as when the Navajo comic duo James and Ernie impersonated 1970s love-gone-wrong singers and America's top Indian beauties mocked their preoccupation with the weight of their crowns and silver earrings.

Comedy duo James Junes and Ernie Tsosie III began the night of comedy onstage at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center with Junes mentioning NHA.

Tsosie said, "Navajo Housing Authority?"

"No," Junes said, "That's 'No Happiness Allowed.'"

Tsosie imitated a shy Indian man making his first moves towards the Indian princess at the pow wow, with the inevitable wrong words coming out of his mouth.

"What's a big girl like you doing in a small place like this!"

The duo gave a comic description of Navajos giving the wrong directions, drawing them with a stick in the sand. There were details like, "Turn right at that dead cow, not the dead horse, but the dead cow. No, that's all wrong, go the other way."

Then, there were the questions that tourists ask. Tsosie wearing a buffalo cap impersonated tourists saying, "Do you all still eat the buffalo?"

"We still eat the buffalo," Tsosie said, "but just the wings, with some ranch dressing."

Wal-Mart is where you go to see everyone. "Wal-Mart is the gathering of the nations, you even see your old babysitter there," Junes said.

Junes, imitating the smug faces of the cart-grabbers at Wal-Mart, said Indian mothers are always warning their kids to behave. "I'm going to take you back to PHS, that's where I got you in the first place."

Wearing women's wigs, James and Ernie drew non-stop laughter as they sang and danced to "Man! I feel like a woman." They kept going, impersonating love-gone-wrong singers, heavy metal headbangers and linedancers from the '70s and '80s.

Shkeme, Santa Ana Pueblo and lead singer of the reggae-rock band Native Roots, slid into a comedy role and was a hit at the cultural center's show, "Shake, Giggle and Laff: A Night of Comedy."

Letting his hair down with an apology to elders present, Shkeme began by imitating that one hippie chick, always standing beside the stage, and free-flow dancing with her hair streaming down.

Asking if there were any Santa Anas from the Pueblo, Shkeme said, "We all came in the same truck." Then he slid into feast talk, that's the gentle persuasion of Pueblo women when they urge you to eat, eat, eat at Pueblo feasts.

Referring to Spanish rule, Shkeme said, "We've been under 500 years of Spanish rule, now the Spanish work for us at the casinos."

Shkeme's "old school" dance was hilarious, imitating Indian women and men on the dance floor, rubbing their ribs with their fists and kicking up their heels with Indian dance moves.

Miss Indian New Mexico Paulene Shebala, Navajo/Zuni Pueblo, praised her grandmother from To'hajilee, saying she was the first one in town to get a cell phone.

Shebala and Miss Indian World Onawa Lacy, Navajo, served as comic hosts and mocked their preoccupations with the weight of their crowns and earrings. Shebala and Lacy teased one another in mock rivalry as they interrupted one another, boasting of their accomplishments.

Dell the Stallion, actually Navajo, began by saying, "I'm originally from L.A., that's Laguna Acoma."

In a grand-deprecating style, he said, "If Freddie Fender and Lilly Munster ever had a child together - you're looking at him."

Wearing a Mexican sombrero, he imitated his Navajo friends on the dance floor. He said he's glad his wife of 22 years never got any tattoos. The trouble comes after the grandchildren arrive.

They would say, "Grandma's bad! Look at her tattoos!"

Warning to never go to the fair with your girlfriend because your in-laws will catch you, he drew big laughs gliding onstage riding the sizzler at the fair.

Navajo youth comedian Brigadier General, 13, said her father, Dell the Stallion, actually dances disco around the house.

Brigadier General, dressed as a military general, said they're so poor they can't buy shocks for the car. She imitated bouncing up and down at the stoplight. Then glancing to the side, she said, "Just go - there's a guy from my math class."

Encouraging youths to stay off drugs and stay in school, she said, "Dream big." Referring to the University of New Mexico, she added, "You know what they call UNM - University near mommy."

The comedians came together to raise funds for Indian youth ambassadors planning to visit Maori in New Zealand. The Americans for Indian Opportunity is a non-profit group, which encourages leadership skills and cultural exchange. It plans to host Maori visitors here in September.

The night began with a Pueblo buffet at the Pueblo Harvest Caf? at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Feb. 28, featuring Tiwa tacos, with fry bread, pinto beans, green chile, red chile and bread pudding.

Tazbah McCullah, wearing a hot pink wig and leopard skin accessories, greeted visitors to comedy night. McCullah, Navajo, currently serves as the marketing director for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and formerly served as general manager of the Navajo Nation's KTNN radio.

James Junes from Farmington and Ernie Tsosie from Window Rock, Ariz., became an instant success after they began performing a year ago. The duo has been in constant demand, performing on the Navajo Nation, in Las Vegas and at the New Mexico Fair and Native American Music Awards.