Sobriety Celebration comedian brings clean laughs

Actor and comedian Tatanka Means. Photo courtesy of Tatanka Enterprises
Actor and comedian Tatanka Means. Photo courtesy of Tatanka Enterprises

Stand-up comics have rarely been known for promoting sober living. Nonetheless, when comedian and actor Tatanka Means first took to the stage, he also made a commitment not to consume alcohol or recreational drugs. Throughout his career, Means has mixed stand-up with motivational speaking promoting sobriety.

The 34-year-old performer’s résumé has grown to include a sprawling assortment of credits, from National Geographic Channel docudramas to films like “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.” Onstage, Means, who is of Dine, Lakota and Omaha descent, combines observational comedy about modern Native life with reflections on the value of sobriety.

Means will open Native Village of Eyak’s 26th annual Sobriety Celebration with a performance at the Cordova Center at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15.

“Don’t have high expectations!” Means joked. “Let’s just have some fun. I just wanna come in and bring some laughs and some inspiration… One of my platforms as a comedian and a motivational speaker is spreading the message of sobriety and leading a clean and healthy lifestyle. That attracted me to this event, and I’m hoping I could share my message with everybody in attendance.”

Means’s Sobriety Celebration performance comes in the midst of several other projects, including shooting for an upcoming film, “Black Feather.” Other ongoing projects include “The Liberator,” an animated war drama produced by Netflix, and “I Know This Much is True,” an HBO-produced miniseries. Keeping on the road and away from family for months at a time is a particular challenge, Means said. Means finds that stand-up shows can help introduce a little levity into a dense work schedule.

“Comedy is subjective,” Means said. “It’s like music — everybody likes a different type, so I try to bring something for everybody… Sometimes we don’t laugh for days or weeks, and I just want to elevate everybody’s mood and bring some smiles. I want people to go away in a different emotion than when they came in.”


Means looks forward to visiting new parts of Alaska and getting in touch with the Cordova community, he said.

“I try to bring an all-ages show when I come to communities, but I can’t make any promises!” Means said. “It just depends. Come with an open mind and hopefully we’ll bring some laughter.”

Read more about the 26th Annual Sobriety Celebration here.

Download the full schedule of events here.

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