When Sheldon Elter first introduced it back in 2001, Métis Mutt was an eight-minute comedy sketch about his struggles with drug use and alcoholism.
Elter remembers trying to be edgy with his comedy, but it resulted in a bit of backlash.
“I really think I thought I was being like Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock at the time and just not fully aware of the power of my words,” he told CBC’s Edmonton AM.
“I don’t think I was fully prepared to receive any kind of backlash with the kind of jokes I had been saying — which were a lot of racial stereotypes.”
Now Elter’s show is back in Edmonton after a successful stint in Toronto. It’s now a one-man play that uses comedy to deal with heavy topics such as domestic violence, bullying, racism and shame.
Elter said he has come a long way from that initial iteration of Métis Mutt, which started with a simple realization. “I had to come to terms with what I was saying and the responsibility that I had with saying those words,” he said. “It was just some hard lessons that I had to learn.”
The name of the show comes from the feeling Elter has when he describes himself as Métis, which is an old French term for mixed.
“I think it’s just the idea of what that word, Métis, means, and not just in its nicest political sense, [but] that it means that I’m a mix,” he said.
‘I don’t think I was fully prepared to receive any kind of backlash with the kind of jokes I had been saying — which were a lot of racial stereotypes.’ – Sheldon Elter
The show now follows a series of characters who talk about various ideas and issues Elter has faced. “The idea was to come up with a theme that represented you and your life,” he said.
“Then, you allow characters to kind of speak, rather than just narration.”
Though Elter’s show has come a long way in understanding the power of his words, he said he’s not perfect yet.
“I use the word Indian a lot in the show because I wrote this at a specific time,” he said. “Even though that word has importance to me, I understand that I have to change my language.”
Elter’s show runs at the Roxy Theatre on Gateway Boulevard from Feb. 15 to March 4. Tickets are available here.