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How Red Man Laughing Got Serious About Reconciliation

Ryan McMahon began his podcast Red Man Laughing as a comedy series. But by the fifth season it became a real-time exploration of reconciliation. Recently, he spoke with Podcast Playlist host Lindsay Michael about that transformation.
Ryan McMahon is a comedian, writer and host of the new Canadaland podcast Thunder Bay. (Submitted by Ryan McMahon)
Lindsay Michael interviews Red Man Laughing host Ryan McMahon for Podcast Playlist. 24:16

Ryan McMahon began his podcast Red Man Laughing as a comedy series. But by the fifth season it became a real-time exploration of reconciliation. Recently, he spoke with Podcast Playlist host Lindsay Michael about that transformation.

Time and time again, residential school survivors themselves told me - love. You have to love.

- Ryan McMahon

When season five of Red Man Laughing begins, McMahon is angry. Through his podcast, he tells Canada to "keep your reconciliation because I don't want it." He felt the celebrations around Canada 150 glossed over essential issues facing Indigenous communities.

"We're talking about clean drinking water, we're talking about dead indigenous women."

But by the end of the process, McMahon felt hopeful. "Indigenous people have answers," he explains. "They've always had answers on how to move forward."

Through his interviews, McMahon shifted his focus from anger to believing the answer is love. "We fell out of love with ourselves, with each other, with our communities," McMahon explains, "and to rebuild our communities, it will take a profound act of love and courage." This journey has left an indelible impact on McMahon. "I could cry thinking about it … Time and time again, residential school survivors themselves told me - love. You have to love."

McMahon is helping to spread this message on the Indian & Cowboy Indigenous Media Network, which he founded in 2013 and relaunched on July 1, 2017. It features ten podcasts, along with other web content, and is entirely supported by its members. As it continues to evolve, Ryan McMahon hopes the network and its emerging Indigenous talent will continue to provide answers and move forward.

To hear more of Red Man Laughing on Podcast Playlist, we featured the show in Episode 97: Canada 150

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