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We Want the Airwaves #26: Karinda Dobbins Nia: Welcome to "We Want the Airwaves." My name is Nia King.

This week on the podcast I had the great pleasure of interviewing local stand-up comedian Karinda Dobbins. I've seen her perform a number of times around the Bay area, and really admired her unique style and smart comedy. Without further ado, here's Karinda. (musical interlude) Karinda: All the time when I was growing up, my friends would just call me Cool Breeze. (Nia laughs) You know, it was just like, no matter what happens, Karinda's just going to be cool. Like, even-tempered. But the thing about being even-tempered is when I get really upset, it's very noticeable. (both laugh) Because they're like, Oh my god, what's happening? So, yeah, but generally speaking, how I am on stage is how I am in my real life. Nia: In your act, you use some of the racism that you experience in real life and at your job as material. You were saying earlier that you don't show your whole life because parts of it are boring, you show the most absurd parts of it. But I feel like, sometimes experiences with racism are so absurd, you almost don't know how to turn them into comedy. (laughs) Karinda: Absolutely. I find that, even the incidents at work, I need some space and some time before I can write jokes about it. Because what I've found out is that when I do comedy about stuff that has happened so recently, it comes off as very angry. I've learned that I need a little time and space and perspective to write and make it funny. Nia: How do you look back at something that was really messed up and figure out what was funny about it and how to craft that into a joke? Karinda: You know, it's really sort of just trial and error. Because a lot of the stuff that affect me as a woman of color in the position that I have at work, it really at times can be very trying. So trying to piece together what about that can connect with people and be funny, is... I think I just sort of think about, anybody who works in corporate America has experienced something similar. It may not be racism, it may be sexism, or classism, or just other-ness. So that's the part that I use to connect and to make those things funny. Nia: Are there other people of color in your department? Like, how bad is it? (laughs) Karinda: There are a few. The percentage of Black people in biotech... I mean, it's very very small. It's very minimal. And so we always have this joke at work, where if there's like four or five of us talking to each other, one of us has to leave. Like, there's a fourBlack-person maximum that we can be in one place at one time, or else they think we're conspiring to, you know, do something. Nia: What are the challenges of getting taken seriously as a comic?

Karinda: I think comedy is one of the few art forms where people come to a show and they want to be part of the show, but in a disrespectful manner. I think we're one of the few art forms where people pay to come see us, and then they want to heckle us. You don't go to a concert or an art gallery or to spoken word, and shout out stuff. I don't know why that is. In some respects I understand that people think that they can be funny. And so, maybe they think that they're funnier than the person on stage. But the answer to that is, to write jokes and then you can do jokes on stage. It's not to pay to come to a show and then ruin it for all the other people who have paid. So, there's just a lack of respect for what we do. I don't think people think it's a lot of work put into it. Because if you're just being funny at your barbecue with your friends and your family, and you think, "Oh, I can do what she's doing," I don't think you have a lot of respect for it. SNL has come under fire very recently for their lack of Black women on the show, but also I feel like, they just have a lack of people of color in general. I mean, they've had four or five Black women, but how many Latinas have they had on the show? How many Asian women have they had on the show? How many Indigenous women have they had on the show? They haven't had any, I don't think. Even though it's scarce for Black women, it's even worse for other minorities, so... I mean... I think that's definitely something SNL has said that they're working on. (laughs) Nia: I think the reason people are so upset recently is because they just brought on six new cast members that are all white, and only one of them is a woman. And immediately after, Kenan Thompson came out and said "We're trying to find Black women, there just aren't any ones that are funny enough!" Karinda: Yeah, you know, when he said that, I think I took that a little differently than most people. Because to me, that was kind of a subtle dig at the show. Because what he was saying was, they never seem to find ones that are ready. If you're pulling in people to audition, you should know if they're ready or not. So it's like, if you can't find the people who are ready, it's almost like you're doing that on purpose. Because you can say, "We're bringing in people and auditioning them," but if none of them are above the cut, or if none of them are what you're looking for, then to me, that's a problem in you finding people. It's not that they're not out there. Just like, you're not looking in the right places. And to me, that's a problem with the production of the show. Nia: Okay, I have a theory and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. So, being a huge comedy nerd, I've noticed that SNL recruits almost all their people from like three places. Like, they went through a period in the 90's where they hired a bunch of stand-ups like David Spade and Adam Sandler, and then so they kind of decided that they didn't want to work with stand-ups anymore, it seems like. Because they're not good with working with other people, is the sort of stereotype. And so they recruit, it seems like almost exclusively, improv actors. And recruit almost exclusively from the Groundlings in LA, UCB [Upright Citizens Brigade], and Second City in Chicago. So my theory which is not to say that SNL isn't totally racist because I think it is - is that part of the

reason they have a hard time finding Black women is because more of the Black women in comedy seem to be in stand-up than in improv or sketch. Karinda: I think that's a very astute observation, because if you look at the percentage of Black women in those three places, I think it's actually less than 2%. So if you're recruiting from places that actually have less diversity than what you historically have had on your show, that's a problem. And that goes back to what I was saying earlier, it's like the producers on that show should know that the amount of Black women in those places is less than 2%. So where else can I find Black women who are funny? I mean, it is not that difficult. (Nia laughs) It's not hard, at all. Nia: The other thing I wanted to say about SNL is that the people of color they have on there and they have had on there historically, tend to be very light-skinned. So Maya Rudolph, I mean she's mixed, and she could play both Black characters and non-Black characters. Nasim Pedrad, who's on there now is Iranian and very light-skinned, so she plays both white characters and non-white characters. And then Fred Armisen... I'm not going to get this right - I know he's mixed, I want to say he's part Japanese and part German, but I'm not positive... And he was playing Barack Obama for the longest time. Which was problematic because even though he might be a person of color, he's not Black. I think them having Jay Pharoah play Barack Obama is a big improvement. But like, why did it take so long? (laughs) They were really attached to just having white people play people of color instead of bringing people of color onto the show. Karinda: Yeah. I think it also speaks to the number of Black people who are in positions of power on these networks and in the writing rooms. Because even when you have Black women of color on the show who are dark-skinned... historically Saturday Night Live, the skits that they had them doing were pretty stereotypical. I mean, they had someone playing a seventeen year old unwed mother who's giving out advice, I can't remember exactly how the skit went, but it was pretty offensive. (laughs) To say the least. Nia: Did you watch the newest Kerry Washington episode? Karinda: I did. I saw a couple of her first skits, and I saw the one where she was playing Oprah, and she was playing Michelle, and she was about to play Beyonce, sort of playing on the fact that they don't have any Black women on the show. And then they had Al Sharpton come out to say Nia: That was bizarre! Karinda: Yeah, it was kind of weird... Nia: It was really weird. I feel like they've been listening to the criticism and they're just basically giving us the finger. (laughs) Karinda: It was kind of like they're saying, "We're acknowledging it... but we still aren't doing anything about it."

Nia: Yeah. Karinda: "And we're going to make fun of it. But we still aren't doing anything about it." (laughs) Nia: Yeah. Because the week before that, they had this sketch where Lorne Michaels came out and was supposed to try and identify who was a new cast member and who was in the band that was performing that night. And at the end, Lorne just goes like, "The Black one?" and Kenan's like, "Wait, he doesn't - he doesn't know my name or that I'm supposed to be on the cast?" And it was supposed to be a joke. But it was very specifically in the context of them getting all this backlash for bringing on six new cast members and none of them being people of color. It felt like a very explicit "fuck you." Like, "We're SNL, we do what we want." Karinda: And that's pretty much the long and short of it. I mean, Saturday Night Live is really the end-all and be-all of sketch comedy. They've been there for a very long time. In Living Color, you know, has come and gone. MAD TV has come and gone. I feel like those shows were obviously more inclusive of Black people. But you know, nothing replaced those shows. So there's really nothing competing against SNL. If there was a show that had a lot of people of color in it that was doing really well, then I feel like Saturday Night Live would have to put people of color in there. It's kind of like what the Republicans did when Barack Obama got elected; they put Michael Steele in there. "Like, oh you got a Black? I have a Black!" You know, it's like we're matching Black for Black. So there's nothing really pressuring SNL to have more people of color to have representations of people of color that aren't the same old thing regurgitated. Nia: Yeah. It's just a shame because, first of all, I can't stop watching these shows even though I know they're horribly racist. But also because, America's changing. America's becoming more and more brown and Black. SNL needs to deal with it if they're going to stay relevant in any way. People have been saying they're irrelevant for a long time, but if they want to not continue on the path to irrelevance, they really need to embrace that fact in both their cast and their writing room. And I think that's true about - there were a lot of comments during the Emmy's about the writing staff for comedy shows being super white pretty much across the board. Karinda: You know, I don't know if they necessarily have to. Because what we see is that America is changing, the color of America is changing, but if you look at Late Night, W. Kamau Bell is really the only person of color who's hosting a late night show. It's very white, it's still very male. And that's the same way it's been forever. Even though the make-up of America has changed dramatically. They haven't had to change, and it doesn't look like they're going to change. When they replace Jay Leno, I mean, I don't think they looked for anyone else besides a white guy. Nia: Yeah, it's going to be, Jimmy Fallon's going to move into Jay Leno's spot, and then Seth Meyers is coming into Jimmy Fallon's.

Karinda: Exactly. So, what they've shown us is that, "We don't necessarily have to change because... we just don't." (laughs) Nia: Yeah. I could just nerd out about this with you forever, (both laugh) but I want to bring it back to your career. Do you get compared to other comics a lot? Karinda: I get compared to one comic a lot... It's Wanda Sykes. Nia: Oh, just because she's also a Black lesbian Karinda: Yeah. I mean, obviously it's unfair to her. (both laugh) Because you know, I haven't done anything. It's just because we're Black and we're both lesbians. I don't think our style or our content is similar at all. So I mean I just think that shows that sometimes people just make comparisons on skin color and sexuality. Nia: Yeah. When I think of your style, I think about Hannibal Buress. Karinda: I love Hannibal Buress. And his style, I love it too. It's so laid-back. But when he delivers his punchline, it's just like, oh my god. Nia: Yeah. He's also another comic that shows that you don't have to be like, crazy outthere, to get laughs. Do you consider your comedy political? Karinda: I do. You know, they say the personal is political. I think that my views of the world sort of project my political leanings on different topics. A lot of times when you speak about political things, people label you as a political comic. And I don't necessarily see myself as that because I talk about so many things. I mean I talk about being Black, I talk about being a lesbian, being a mom, working in corporate America as a Black woman. I talk on so many things so I wouldn't label myself as any type of comic in particular. But I grew up in a very politically aware family so that's definitely one of the things I talk about, a lot. Nia: I thought I read or heard you say that the Nation of Islam was a big influence in your family? Karinda: The Nation of Islam, the Black Panthers, just basically any Civil Rights thing that was happening in the late 60s, early 70s, our family sort of had a hand in it at some point or another. Nia: Were they big activists or just people that thought it was important for you to be aware of what was happening? Karinda: They were activists. They were in political movements, they were in marches, they were on buses and travelling to other cities being activists for different causes. So

they were very in it. They weren't one of those where "I'm talking about it and I'm not doing anything." They were in it. Nia: And did they kind of expect you to go into social justice work eventually? Do they have feelings about you going into corporate America? Were they happy for you? Karinda: No, they were fine. I think everyone in my family has a corporate job, so to speak. But they always still had these things that they did on their personal time where they were active in the movement. So they didn't have any qualms with me making money. Making money and providing for yourself is always good. You can put it back in the movement. (laughs) So they didn't have any problems with that. It's just there was always this expectation that you're going to use some part of your life to further the cause, whether that be in comedy, or whether that be in writing about it, or doing things. I mean, it's an expectation that you would do something. Nia: Mmhm. So for them, because they also had corporate jobs, it didn't feel like a contradiction in any way to have these radical politics and also work inside the system? Karinda: I mean, I think there's always these compromises that you have to make. With anything. I think that was one of the things that you compromised on. Because obviously if you have these radical politics, a lot of times when you go and get jobs in corporate America, you know, you're "selling out." You know, "you're working for The Man." But then too, you also have families to raise, and you have college education that you have to save for, and that's the reality of life in America. You have to make all these decisions about how you going to make all this stuff work. Nia: Yeah. It's interesting because... what used to be the movement, a lot of that work has now been channelled into the non-profit sector. So now you can be like a professional activist and get paid to do that, although it's questionable how really radical you can be when your organization is maybe getting money from the government or whatever. I feel like my generation, I don't know if they're able to see things that way sometimes, that you don't have to choose between the inside and outside the system. You can make your money and also do your activist work. I think there's kind of a push to either just be outside the system or you're seen as having sold out. When really what we have is, the non-profit sector's sort of the system... but also supposed to be better than the system. Karinda: Right. And that's always been a discussion, right. It's kind of like, do you want to be a revolutionary and not be in the system at all? Or do you want to be this person who's an intermediary, and you're in the system but you're trying to work and change the system? But then people are like, "Oh you can't change the system. The system just needs to be dismantled." So that's always been Nia: Right. But then how are you going to pay your bills? Karinda: Yeah. It's like, how're you going to pay your bills and how're you going to live in this society? Because "Revolutionary" doesn't pay very well. (Nia laughs) You know,

that's just the reality. So that's always been a discussion that people have who are trying to build movements and have social change. Nia: Yeah. There was a quote from the interview that you did that I was listening to this morning that I really liked, where you said something to the effect of "Everyone's a revolutionary until they get a little bit of power." Karinda: Yeah. I mean, we've seen that over and over, all around the world. Because people start a revolution to change things and they want things to be a certain way. But then when you become that person who's in power, that just seems to become in and of itself what you want, is just power. Because when you're a revolutionary, you're like, "Oh when I get in there this is what I'm going to do, and it's going to be for the people, and I'm not going to be corrupted and..." But then once you get power, all of your views change all of a sudden. You know, you're like, "Being corrupted is not so bad..." (Nia laughs) It's the thing to do. Nia: Do you feel like that applies in your career either as a stand-up or your day job? As you gain more attention or rise through the ranks, people start to resent you more? (laughs) Regardless of the fact that you're still the same person doing the same good work? Karinda: I think so. In comedy there's just sort of a notion that once you get into comedy, you have to pay your dues. And if anybody is perceived as jumping the gun, or having some type of success, before you were due, there seems to be some resentment from people who've been doing it longer or who have put more time in. And my thing is that I'm happy for anybody having any type of success in comedy, because it's very difficult. I've been doing comedy for three years, but if you just started it doing six months, and you're doing all the things that I'm doing right now, I'm not bitter about that. That's great for you. I don't have any timetable of your success, or of anybody's success. Whatever comes to you is for you. That's how I feel it. It's not a time thing, and it's not a "this is what you deserve." Because really, the world is going to tell you what you deserve. Not necessarily what people who are your peers [tell you]. I think there are a lot of artists out there who deserve attention, but Britney Spears and Katy Perry are selling millions of records. You know, the people has decided that they deserve a lot of money and fame, so how can you quarrel with that? You may think somebody else is more talented. But in the end, the people are deciding who's making money and who's going to be successful. So as an artist, I just put out there the best work that I can as an artist, and I just let the chips fall where they may. Nia: Do you feel like there's a reason that some artists may jump the line or get picked up faster than others? Talking about comics, specifically. I think there's a myth out there that everything's based on merit, right? Like if you work hard and your jokes are good, that you'll be on Conan some day or wherever it is you're trying to go. But I feel like it's more complicated than that. I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

Karinda: I think comedy is just like anything else in life, where there's a preference for a certain type of comedy. We see on late night comedy... I believe the number of women on late night was something like - out of the percentage, I mean, it's very small. Nia: You're talking about guests or hosts? Karinda: Guests. I mean coming on Conan or Letterman or Leno and actually performing a set. The percentage of women who get those opportunities are very small, so obviously, we can see there's a preference for male stand-up in that arena. And in general, comedy's just a white male dominated field, like so many other fields. So one of the things that, for me, I just try to carve out a space that's very unique to me. One of the things they tell you about comedy is that the closer you can get to yourself is when you're going to be the most successful. So I just try to get as close to myself as possible, and hopefully that'll make me successful. Obviously, I know there are hurdles with me being a Black woman. But I just try to do the best that I can. But I know obviously there's a preference for certain types of comedy. Nia: Yeah, I mean I feel like it's not just that there's a preference for white male comics, but that's like... What we consider comedy in the US has been shaped so much by white male sensibilities for so long, that I feel like what we think of as funny is sort of contained by those boundary. I mean obviously we know that people of color can be funny, (hopefully). We can be funny. But yeah, I think when people of color and women and people from our diverse communities start talking about our lives and things like racism, people consider it something other than comedy. Other than maybe like Chris Rock, who's been really successful, and W. Kamau Bell who's achieving success now. Karinda: Generally when you start out in comedy, the thing that people say is that if you're a Black comic, you don't want to talk about race. Like, that's one of the things that's going to prohibit you from doing well and from getting booked at a lot of clubs. So I think a lot of people follow that path, and they've been given that advice, and maybe their comedy wouldn't have broached those subjects anyway. But it's definitely something that's told, and people believe, and so you don't hear it a lot. But like I said, my background and the way I grew up, it's not possible for me to not talk about race and politics in my act. I mean, if that's going to prohibit me from working certain clubs and being on certain shows, then so be it. But I'm going to be me, no matter what. It's like if I become successful, it's going to be because I stay true to who I am. Nia: I really wish it worked the other way around. I wish if you were like a white male comic starting out, someone came up to you and was like, "Hey man, if you want to make it in this business: no rape jokes, no fat jokes, no jokes about your ex-girlfriend. We've heard them all. Just keep it fresh." Karinda: That's...never going to happen. (laughs) Nia: Well, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed anyway. (laughs) I used to really love the Boondocks comic strip, I don't know if you ever used to read it. When I was living in

Boston and I was coming up, it was in the Sunday Globe. And it was really awesome because it was political and it was coming from a Black radical, Black nationalist kind of perspective. It was pretty amazing. But then when they turned it into a TV show, I felt like it became something different, where it was very much making fun of the Black community. Which I think is okay, if your audience is exclusively Black, basically Karinda: Right. Nia: - and that's what they think is funny and want to see. But when you have white audiences watching this Black-made characters of Black people, it just feeds the machine. Karinda: Yeah, it feeds the stereotypical machine of this view that they already have of us, because we're showing them all the stuff that they already believe. I don't think you can take anything militant and put it on television. I mean, it's going to have to change. And it's going to have to change into something more palatable for white audiences. Nia: Yeah. One of the things that's really cool that I've seen in my lifetime is that the internet has really democratized the media and people are able to produce these web series, though they may be hard to fund, and not particularly well-funded... Karinda: Like Awkward Black Girl? Nia: Yeah. And Issa Rae seems like she's done fairly well for herself. I think she got picked up for a couple things on real television. (laughs) Karinda: Right. Nia: But she's also in a very small minority. Karinda: But it's going to be interesting to see if her content changes, once she - I think she signed a deal with Shonda Rhimes to produce something on ABC. So it's going to be interesting to see if the types of things that she was addressing in Awkward Black Girl can transfer. Nia: Yeah. So I was a big fan of the show, up until... There were some things that I thought were really problematic and I stopped watching. But I guess what I'm trying to say is, now someone like me can have an audience that's not a huge audience, I'm probably never going to be on TV, but I can still get my voice out there. But then these creators who are people from marginalized communities... we haven't, it seems like, been able to figure out how to monetize our work and our access to an audience. Even though the big media corporations are scared of the little people on Youtube who are giving them a run for their money, the little people on YouTube aren't making any money. (laughs) I think that's the hurdle that we have to cross. Like, okay, we have brilliant people that are creators and that are getting their voice out there. But then how do we get them paid?

Karinda: Right. I feel like that's the trick. 'Cause we have a lot of people creating independent content and having these different voices and experiences than we normally see. But how do we get them to make money off of it? How do we get people to in mass tune into their podcast or their clips on YouTube or wherever it is they're posting their media to? Because I feel like once you start making money with those things, corporations automatically are going to take interest and try to bring you into the fold, and then your content is going to change. And then that's another independent voice that's gone. Because obviously if a company is interested in you, you're going to jump at it, because that's a lot more money that you're making. If we could just get these people on par with these huge companies can offer them [resources]. Then I feel like if we can find a way to centralize it and just have some site where we can have independent voices and we can have a lot of people coming to that site. Nia: Like Funny or Die, but for stuff that's not terrible! (laughs) Karinda: You know, we could have independent whatever. And just have people post content there. And you could send out advertising and you can make money. And people can feel free to still branch out and do these really great things, and not have corporations dictate to you what's funny and what's not funny. We can still do just whatever we want to do. 'Cause obviously when somebody's writing you a check, they get to tell you what's funny, what's not funny, what's going to work, what's not going to work. Nia: Where do you consider yourself in your career as an artist or as a comic? Karinda: I think I'm an infant. Nia: Okay. Karinda: Still on the bottle. (both laugh) I mean, when I go and see veteran comics, it just reminds me how far away I am from being really good. (laughs) Nia: How do you define veteran? Karinda: You know, who have been doing comedy I think, five to ten, fifteen years, who have a really good sense of who they are and have crafted a persona on stage that's really successful. You know, luckily as comics, we get to go to comedy shows for free. So we get to see a number of different headliners, national headliners, and you know, you learn so much from watching their sets. So yeah, I feel like I'm still a baby. I'm just learning how to craft jokes, and how to have a really fluid set. How to make things flow effortlessly, I'm still trying to do that really well. I mean, I just feel like I'm still figuring things out. Nia: Yeah. So I've never actually been to an open mic night, but I've heard that they're awful. (laughs) And I'm wondering, if that's the point of entry, if that's why so many people from our diverse communities don't make it past that point. Because they just can't handle the bullshit that comes from going to open mic nights and being a person from

marginalized communities in a very - not just a white male dominated scene - but a scene where perpetuating oppressive behaviors and stereotypes is seen as almost part of your job. And going against those things is seen as somehow anti-comedy. Karinda: Yeah, open mics is definitely not for the weak. There's definitely a lot of jokes about people of color and women and people who are very marginalized already. It's some of the most brutal comedy you can hear, because it's a lot of people who are just starting out. Sometimes I think when you're starting out, you're just saying things just to get people's attention, not necessarily to be funny, even. It's like, you know those types of things capture people's attention, for good or bad. Nia: It's ironic to me because it's so hackneyed. (laughs) You're just taking the lowhanging fruit that everyone's already picked over. Karinda: Yeah, and I think open mics it's like... Before you have the skill to make those things funny, you just go for what you've heard so many times before and you've heard get laughs, you know. The lowest hanging fruit is usually a dick joke. Or a rape joke. Something about the hood. So that kind of stuff is just perpetuated over and over again. Before you have the talent to craft a joke about some other stuff. But you definitely have to persevere, because you're going to hear that a lot. And if you're trying to be a comedian, and write stuff that is progressive in some ways that you feel like you can have a voice outside of those types of things, it gets a little unnerving at times if you're a person of color, and you're a woman, and you're a lesbian. I mean, you hear a lot of things that you probably don't want to hear sitting here for an hour. But if you want to get up and try to make people laugh after [that]. You know, people hear all that stuff and then you get up, and you're talking about politics and race and sexism and all this other stuff, that's extra challenging. Because people are already at a certain level, and this is the stuff they've been hearing all night, and now you going to come on and do whatever. Sometimes it's like, "Oh I waited an hour for that?" (laughs) Nia: Yeah. It's interesting. I listened to the most recent episode of WTF? recently, with Marc Maron. And he had a really good line-up. And it wasn't super funny, but they were talking about real shit, you know? Tig Notaro was talking about her struggle with breast cancer. Trevor Noah was talking about growing up in apartheid South Africa. Then this guy Big Jay Oakerson came out and just did a bunch of jokes about trans women which were super offensive and horrible and the type of stuff you hear all the time. But then Eddie Izzard came out and called him on it! And came out and made a pro-trans statement, and I thought that was really cool. It was like, "No, we're not going to let this guy set the tone. All of us marginalized people are also still here. And Eddie Izzard being who he is had the power to actually say something about it. Karinda: Yeah, I think that's one of the things in comedy that I love the most. You can be sitting at a show and you can be hearing racist stuff and sexist stuff, but you can also go on stage after that and make a statement about it. Which is the greatest thing in the world. Because you get to have a voice.

Nia: Yeah, and if you're funny, people will go with it. Karinda: Yeah. People are going to roll with it. So I think it's awesome that he did that. Nia: Yeah. Okay, so we talked a lot about bad comedy. (laughs) I feel like in the Bay area right now, and maybe other places as well, there's a burgeoning social justice comedy scene. If you're talking to people who are passionate about social justice, or are from marginalized communities, and secretly love stand-up but are afraid to go see a show because most of it is so bad, who would you recommend that they check out? Other than yourself, obviously? Karinda: I would recommend that they would check out Micia Mosely, obviously, Nato Green , and Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. I'm going to be producing a show with her in 2014, and she's very socially conscious, great comic. I think those are the people that immediately pop into my head, from the Bay. Nia: And what about if we don't limit it to the Bay. Is there anyone else you want to shout out? Karinda: I mean, I love Lewis Black. He's one of my favorites. Nia: It's so funny, because when I was listening to you talk about your influences, it was like, Chris Rock and Richard Pryor, and then Lewis Black who has this huge personality and really loud and angry kind of guy, and your style is such the opposite of that. Karinda: I know, and I love that about him. (laughs) But the thing is that white males can do that, and they can be very abrasive and talk about politics in that kind of way, and people accept it. Whereas if that was a Black male comic, people would just be like, "Oh, he's ranting, he's militant," and be dismissive about it. I think there's a lot of reasons why he gets away with it. You know, Chris Rock, obviously his style incorporates a lot of politics and stuff in it, but you know, he's not angry about it. He's forceful. But it's like, as Black artists, a lot of times if we're angry, that seems to be the only thing that people remember. The content, not so much. So I think our demeanor is deliberately a little more laid-back. Nia: So you feel like that was a political choice for you, or you feel like that's just who you are? Karinda: That's just who I am, but I feel like people listen to me more because of that. Even though sometimes the things that I say they may not want to hear. (laughs) Maybe they don't want to hear my point of view. But I feel like, because my style is kind of laidback, they take it in. And maybe sort of listen to it, and maybe sort of debate it, and not just be dismissive of it off the top. Nia: And my last question is where do you want to go from here? What are your dreams or your goals?

Karinda: My dreams and my goals are to just be the best comic that I can be. I definitely want to produce my own shows, produce my own content, make money from those shows and that content. I want to travel. I want to tour the US. Nia: Have you performed outside the Bay area? Karinda: I did some shows in Oregon. I've gone to LA. But I haven't been able to travel to the East Coast, or the South, which I'm looking forward to. People are always like, being in the Bay we're sort of in a cocoon. They're like, "Oh, when you get outside the Bay, those jokes won't work, and you're going to have to dumb it down, you're going to have to do all these things." So I'm just very interested in how my stuff plays other places. Not necessarily that I'm going to change who I am. But I know definitely with different types of audiences, you have to deliver it to them in ways that are modified, and I'm not opposed to that. I definitely want to travel. I just want to be the best comic that I can be, and of course I have ideas of what that is. I want to have my own HBO special. I want to do all the stuff that really successful comics do. And I think that's probably my dream for myself. Nia: You were talking about the idea of having to dumb down comedy to travel. And I feel like, I really hate the assumption that comedy has to be dumb for people to get it, 'cause I feel like that's why there's so much bad comedy out there! (laughs) I really love the show Community, and Parks and Rec, and those are shows that've really struggled with ratings and were always on the verge of being cancelled and are still on the verge of being cancelled because they were considered too smart for the room. But if that kind of of comedy isn't made available, then that really limits who's going to come out to see comedy and watch it. Karinda: I don't know if dumbed down was the correct phrase. I think from the things that I've heard from travelling comics is that you just have to do it differently. I think right now we're in an era of comics being abstract, and all these different types of things. So I think sometimes we just have to make it a little more, what I call, "real world" for people. Just put it in a way that's accessible to everyone. Because sometimes I hear a lot of comedy and it's making these obscure references, and if you don't know what those things are, obviously you can't laugh at that joke. So that's what I try to do with my comedy, kind of like, I'm taking these really really large issues, but I feel like I'm making accessible to people who might not necessarily know the ins and outs of the very particular thing that I'm talking about, and just trying to connect it to everyday things. Nia: So it's like, you don't make jokes specifically about working in biotech, but you make jokes about being a Black woman in a corporate work environment Karinda: Right. It's like the joke that I have about going into the meeting and people thinking I'm supposed to be there. You know, everybody, I think, can relate to that. It may not be a meeting, but you can relate to being a person of color and going into a space where people think you don't belong. And not necessarily just in corporate America, that

could be in a construction job or that could be in the artistic world, or that could be as a nurse, or wherever you are, you just feel marginalized. That's what I try to do. I try to take a bigger issue and connect it to day-to-day things. Nia: I think you're really successful at that in your comedy. Karinda: Thank you. (musical finale)