Karinda Dobbins’ Debut Comedy Album Delivers Hilarious Take On Lesbian Weddings, Hiking While Black & More

Let’s be really honest – the world is BLEAK right now, so when we had the chance to listen to a preview of Karinda Dobbins’ debut comedy album ‘Black & Blue’, it was a refreshing change to just be in a perpetual state of laughter for a few days! The album is set to be released on Feb 4th, and will be available everywhere comedy is streamed and sold.

The Bay Area comedian who has shared the stage with household names like Trevor Noah, Roy Wood Jr. and Gina Yashere, recorded the album on a co-headlining bill with one of her best friends, Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. It was a  celebratory event in that special slice of fall 2021 when the Covid numbers were low and the vax numbers were high. Bringing refreshing and hilarious perspectives on Hiking While Black, Lesbian Weddings in the Woods, the ‘New’ Oakland and more, this album is sure to help you get through year 3 of the pandemic with a smile on your face.

Karinda was born and raised in Detroit, where she got her start being a comedian, as her family says, since childhood. She started doing jokes on stage 12 years ago at an open mic in Oakland on a light dare from a friend, and has been honing her craft ever since. ‘Black & Blue’ is a strong collection of that work, delivered in a unique moment, covering ordinary life including her girlfriend’s arbitrary policy on household pests, the changes hipsters have brought to Oakland, and a unique packing list for hiking provided by black women – who you should always listen to.

As we get ready to head into Black History Month in February, we had the chance to speak with Karinda about her comedy career, how the industry is changing (if at all?), and why we all need to seriously listen to Black women when it comes to hiking.

How are you feeling about/preparing for the upcoming release of “Black and Blue”?

I feel good, really excited. As a comedian your first album is special. It’s been a long but thrilling journey to produce this album. I spent a lot of time nurturing these jokes and now the world gets to hear them.

Tell us about when the album was recorded, and the event you co-headlined with Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. What was it like getting to do this event with your friend?

It was special. Dhaya and I have been friends for over a decade and we produce shows together. We had a unique opportunity for our shared fan base to see us take this important step in our careers together. It was really a dream come true.

One of the topics you cover is “Hiking While Black”, and offer the advice that you should always listen to Black women. Can you tell us more about this?

There is a long history of not listening to black women. I worked in biotech for 14 years and I was listened to 14 percent of the time I was there. Google hired a black woman who researches A.I. and they fired her instead of fixing the biases she found inherent in their software. Serena almost died because her doctor didn’t listen to her about the symptoms she was having during her pregnancy. We are often uncredited and unheard but we still show up and do our best. For me, this joke shows that even when black women think you are being ridiculous they will still listen and give advice and that advice can often be hilarious. 

As a Bay Area-based comedian, what is the scene like there, and how hard is it to break into the stand-up world?

I was based in the bay area for 9 years but I’m mostly in L.A. now. The bay area comedy scene offers a lot of chances to get better. It has lots of open mics and paid gigs. The variety gets you ready to perform in different environments. It’s hard to have a successful career as a comedian, there are a lot of us. You have to persevere and keep getting better and hope that you can carve out a space for yourself. 

What was it like opening up for and sharing the stage with comedy heavyweights such as Gina Yashere, Roy Wood Jr and Trevor Noah? What did you like most about them?

Roy is so cool and I love how he tackles heavy topics with incredible joke writing. Trevor has a unique way of looking at American politics and way of life. He has an outsider’s point of view that I enjoy. Gina has an incredible stage presence and she often takes us through her international travels as a black woman and makes them incredibly hilarious. She is also a really good friend who has shown me how to navigate this business.

We are seeing so many more women of color getting their own streaming stand-up comedy specials on mainstream networks. From your perspective as an industry insider, how much change is really happening on a day-to-day basis? And how much does representation matter?

There are definitely more women of color getting stand-up specials and that progress will hopefully continue. As far as day-to-day I don’t really see a change in the number of women of color headlining clubs or doing feature work. Representation matters a lot. We need to see different cultures  and experiences represented. Comedy stages should be reflective of the world we live in.

A lot of Black and Blue is your hilarious retelling of everyday moments in your life and with your girlfriend. What do you hope audiences will love most about the album and relate to? 

I think that part of the joy of comedy is you never know what jokes people will gravitate to. I hope they can find a connection to me on a deep or  superficial level. I will take either.   

Are there any moments or stories throughout your set that were uncomfortable or awkward to share? Can you explain why?

I talk about some things that can make audiences uncomfortable like pay disparity, school shootings and gentrification. There will be some discomfort but I don’t think that is a bad thing. We are going to talk about it but I make sure we laugh about it. 

When people hear the name Karinda Dobbins in 5 and 10 years time, what do you best want to be known for?

I want people to say I am a skilled comedian, dedicated to the craft. More importantly I want people to say that I have an impact on the culture. The most important comics have talked about the most complex human conditions and made us think differently about them (Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Moms Mabley). I want to be known for that.

Trust us when we say, do yourself a favor and order your copy of Karinda Dobbins’ ‘Black & Blue’ out Feb 4th.

Comedian Karinda Dobbins | Image by Jennifer Graham

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