Two men are using social media to celebrate Cup’ik and Yup’ik culture in the form of comedic videos.
Their Facebook page, “Can I Borrow,” has nearly 5,000 likes. Starting almost a year ago, it’s home to videos celebrating traditions and customs, with the goal of “healing through laughter.”
Cody Ferguson and Cody Pequeño, more popularly known as “Cody & Cody,” are the duo behind the popular page.
The page features comedic videos poking fun at Cup’ik and Yup’ik culture and traditions. Cup’ik is similar to Yup’ik culture, but the language features a different dialect.
One of their most popular videos mimics the voice inflection some women use when gossiping. It received more than 2,000 likes and shares on Facebook.
Ferguson, 26, and Pequeno, 24, and grew up together in the small Southwestern village of Chevak. They used to race each other to school when they were younger.
In some ways, the men are opposites. Ferguson is a bit more soft-spoken and reserved while Pequeño is more outgoing. Despite their differences early on, they eventually found a common interest in humor.
One day, they decided to take their jokes to the next level and start a Facebook page. Pequeño and Ferguson say the the decision was spontaneous but they wanted the page to have a deeper purpose.
“We decided that the page would help heal people through laughter,” said Ferguson.
The young men said they learned the traditional ways of using humor from their elders. In Cup’ik culture, humor is used to teach unforgettable life lessons.
“There was an elder from Hooper Bay who said that crying and laughter are similar–they both heal people,” said Ferguson.
It’s a mantra the men use in their personal lives, as well. For Ferguson, who has suffered from depression and is recovering from alcoholism, he’s leaned on Pequeño’s humor to get through tough times.
“I’d just feel better instantly ’cause we’d just laugh for hours and it really helped me continue to push forward,” said Ferguson.
Recently, their videos have focused mental health awareness.
Chevak is located about 20 miles east of Hooper Bay, and the cluster of suicides in the village last month, impacted the men as well.
“These are our people, our own people,” said Pequeño, “and just to see and hear to that they’re hurting so much they want to take their own lives, just breaks my heart. I’m living in the same place as they are.”
At the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference earlier this month, Ferguson rallied up people to produce motivational videos using the hash tag “choose life.” The video features a lot of notable people from the YK Delta and officials like Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Gov. Bill Walker.
“I just wanted to make a different for what was going on at the time,” said Ferguson, “and try to help people realize suicide isn’t the answer.”
The men said they’ve received praise for the video from fans everywhere, from the Anchorage airport to Greece. The videos provide a little bit of home for people who are far away from theirs.
Although Ferguson recently moved from Chevak to Anchorage, the men have no plans to stop the page anytime soon.
They plan to continue making videos individually, until they can meet in person again.