Interview with Eeland, Blacksteveirwin
Updated: Jul 5, 2019
Fly fishing and stand-up comedy aren't exactly the most common combination of interests. However, Eeland thrives and succeeds at both. It is my pleasure in introducing my good friend and fly fishing enthusiast Eeland, or also known on social media as blacksteveirwin. We first met back in 2016 when I decided to join the Colorado State fly fishing club and have enjoyed sharing a numerous amount of fishing stories and stretches of river with him. Eeland has been a lover of the great outdoors for a majority of his life and offers a more unique perspective than most as an African American in the fly fishing community. Here is his story.
"So Eeland, what can you tell us about yourself? Where’s home?"
I’m Eeland Thomas Stribling. My first name means [Largest African Antelope.] I was named by my gramps who was a wildlife biologist like myself. Born and raised in Denver, CO. I’m not special.
"How did you get involved with fly fishing? Any mentors you’d care to mention?"
I took a fly-tying class on Saturday mornings for about a month with Eugene Decker at CSU and there was a woman in the class with me who was very attractive and was tying the best flies. After the class she invited me to go fish with her and I fell in love. We didn’t catch anything but watching fish and being in the water was all I needed. I don’t know what happened to her. I find peace in the water, the trees and the fish.
"You’ve experienced racism while you were out fly fishing, care to share a bit about what happened and any advice you can give to people who might find themselves in similar situations?"
Oh yeah. On the water and off the water. One time I was fishing in Fort Collins and these guys yelled out of their car “Aye. N****** shouldn’t be fishing. Shouldn’t you be playing basketball or running from the cops boy?” or something like that. Yeah this was 2018. Wild. But that doesn’t hurt nearly as much as going into a fly shop and people stare or people who work at these shops ask me “This is a fly-fishing shop. You in the right place?” or “we have a beginner fly-fishing class for people wanting to learn.” I’ve been fishing religiously for 6 years and although I’m still learning and humbled, I’m not a beginner. It’s easier to hide the pain of stuff like that, but harder to hide the scars they leave. The goal is that NO ONE has to feel trepidation while stepping out of “societal norms” and if stuff like that happens, the fly-fishing community rejects and condemns that. The reality; fly-fishing is a white male dominated activity. And I’m not persecuting any people or group or whatever, but it sucks being the only person of color at the F3T. That’s gonna trigger some people and I’m willing to talk to people or fight them haha. Bottom line the more people that care and love the outdoors (fishing, hiking, any outdoor recreation) the easier it is to protect it for the future.
"How does stand-up comedy fit into it all?"
It doesn’t haha. That’s the point. An angler/outdoor enthusiast/ A PERSON shouldn’t be put into a box based on what they enjoy or love. I do love stand-up, more than most things and people in my life haha. To me, nothing is off-limits on stage if it’s 1) not malicious and 2) funny. I’ve only been
doing it for a year and a half and it’s one of the only things that brings me pure unadulterated joy. Even when I bomb. I love laughter and goofiness, some anger, fun. Stand-up comedy is just an escape for me. I love it. I started in February of 2018 and did well at my first open mic. I felt adrenaline and after that I didn't do that well. But I like public speaking and thoroughly enjoy making people laugh. My comic ideals are Chad Daniels, Dave Chappelle and Patrice O'neal. If I don't become "famous", or have a Netflix special, I'll still continue to get onstage and make people laugh. But I'm quiet in person haha.
"Do you see any parallels between stand-up comedy and fly fishing? what roles do they serve in your day-to-day life? "
Stand-up is about finding common ground between strangers and connecting with laughter being common language. Fishing or just loving the outdoors, we all share the common ground with strangers and connect with what we all have. Fishing and Stand-up are my therapy. My Instagram is full of fishing post or jokes. They are similar in a lot of ways. The anticipation of walking on stage is equivalent to going to new water. The first joke or riff is the first time you cast your fly into the water. Will they bite? Do they like what you have? Sometimes jokes (flies) don’t work. They may like the light-hearted jokes (dries) or the may like that down and dirty humor (nymphing), or they may want the big energy (streamers). Some days you go home empty handed, some nights you stick that trophy.
"Are there any groups or organizations that have helped you along the way in regards to either fly fishing or comedy?"
Yo, most definitely. My family BrownFolksFishing are a group of people doing what part of my purpose is; getting everyone out on the water doing what we all love. PigFarmInk are some of the dopest down to earth people and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. With comedy, a guy named David Rodriguez who’s not only one of the funniest people I’ve worked with but also like a mentor/coach/manager to me. And special shout out to Mary’s Mountain Cookies in Fort Collins. I love all the ladies there and after a show that’s my go to snack.
"What’s in store for the future? Any events you’re looking forward to?"