Karinda Dobbins took advantage of what she referred to as the “little sweet spot at the end of Delta and before Omicron began” to record her debut comedy album, Black & Blue, out Feb. 4 via Blonde Medicine. The release is a hilarious look at life through Dobbins’ eyes as she skewers everything from COVID conspiracies to lesbian weddings in the wilderness.
Born in Detroit and a long-time resident of Oakland, Dobbins pays tribute to two of her favorite cities with the album’s title, Black & Blue.
“The name of my album is really an homage to Oakland and Detroit,” Dobbins said by phone at the end of January. “Black and blue because when you think about Oakland you think about the Black Panthers and the Raiders with that iconic black symbol. Detroit is sort of that blue Motown sign, it’s a blue collar town, and all the sports teams have blue.”
Dobbins also had the pandemic’s bruising impact on society in mind when naming the album Black & Blue, as well as the fraught relationship between Black people and the police.
“It has a lot of connections,” she said.
When an album’s title is so thoughtfully layered, you know the comedy content is going to be rich with humor as well as social commentary. The funny is found everywhere on Black & Blue, even in the track titles. The opening bit, named “I Won’t Die 4 U,” will instantly bring a smile to the face of any Prince fan before landing big laughs as Dobbins jokes with the heavily masked crowd about the risks of going to live shows.
“I love Prince,” Dobbins said of the formatting choice, which emulates the Purple Rain classic “I Would Die 4 U.” “When we were trying to name the tracks, I was like, ‘that just works,’ because that joke is about people not dying for things that they don’t need to.”
She adds with a laugh, “We were really safe when we recorded the album tracks, so I wanted to name it that as a little nod and wink to Prince.”
Dobbins recorded Black & Blue during a co-headlining show with her friend and fellow comedian, Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, whose own debut comedy album will be coming out on Feb. 25. The camaraderie of the two stand-ups created an added level of excitement that can be felt when listening to the laughter of the crowd.
“Dhaya and I have a shared audience because we’ve been producing shows together for years so people were really excited to see us have that milestone in our careers together. It had a heightened excitement and people were really able to enjoy that we had that experience together,” Dobbins said.
Hiking while Black, the whiteness of Portland, and working as a Black woman in biotech are among the topics Dobbins dissects with her sharp wit. Elsewhere, she wades into a bit of controversy with her stance on not wanting to live with pets.
“I may not get anymore lesbian gigs after this album,” Dobbins said, laughing. “That’s a tricky one. Being a lesbian and not wanting a pet was definitely difficult to find a girlfriend. I have to make sure that I say that it’s not that I don’t like pets, it’s that I don’t like pets in my home. I have to make that clear because I don’t want anybody thinking that I’m mean to pets.”
When we get another window of lower COVID risk, Dobbins is hoping to tour in support of Black & Blue across the country and in Los Angeles where she recently moved. In the meantime, she hopes people check out the album – and pick-up the black and blue colored vinyl – to experience live comedy from the comfort of their homes.
“It’s a slice of life. I’m taking you through how I see the world, and I think that’s funny. I think this album is really going to be a respite for people who are weary from the last two years of being inside and not being able to go and do the things that we love to do. One of the things that I think people love to do is go to a comedy show. If you buy this album, it’s like you’re sitting there and you’re experiencing it with me. It was an exciting time, and even though some people couldn’t be there, I want them to experience how much love we had when we recorded it,” said Dobbins.
“I hope people hear it and it gives them 40 minutes of pure joy.”
Click here to purchase a copy of Black & Blue. More information on Karinda Dobbins can be found at Karindadobbins.com.
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