“I’ve worked in offices where it’s like, you can’t look the exec in the eye when they’re walking down the hallway,” Robinson said during our interview for HuffPost’s series “Between You & Me” in New York’s East Village. “I don’t want to do that. I’m the same person as you. Like, I fart, I burp, I oversleep. There is none of that sort of, like, ‘I’m better than you’ vibe. I don’t like that.”
For the comedian and New York Times bestselling author, who rocketed to fame with her podcast-turned-HBO series “2 Dope Queens,” musing on what exactly makes a good boss isn’t something she’s dwelling on abstractly.
After a decade of hustling in the comedy world, Robinson recently locked down a multi-year overall deal with ABC Studios with her own production house, Tiny Reparations, where she will be developing new projects and shows. Last month, she announced a forthcoming interview show with Comedy Central, produced by Robinson and the production house behind Jerry Seinfeld’s popular series, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.”
You wouldn’t necessarily know how much she’s grinding based on the fun she exudes in her irreverent Instagram posts, ranging from Robinson hanging out with her girl “Meesh” (aka Michelle Obama, for whom Robinson hosted five fireside-style chats during the former first lady’s book tour) to Robinson debating whether Bono is, indeed, the sexiest member of U2.
But Robinson has been hard at work, and taking the time to build her brand and business — all while being an employee-affirming boss — is something she takes seriously.
“I had to look up insurance packages for my employees. I’m like, ‘I don’t fucking know.’ You know what I mean? It’s just like these things you don’t think about that are more logistical, and you want to make sure you’re taking care of people,” she said.
Treating her business like a family has become second nature for Robinson. She has made partnership the core of her ascendency, counting powerhouse female comedians like Ilana Glazer and Jessica Williams as some of her closest friends and creative partners.
It’s in part these relationships that have emboldened Robinson to advocate more for herself in the workplace. Many of the roles she auditioned for at the beginning of her career played into tropes about Black women, such as “the white girl’s best friend” or “the sassy Black assistant.”
“I was just like, I’m not doing that crap. That’s not my experience. It’s not the experience of any of the Black women that I have in my life,” Robinson said.
Robinson’s core team is made up of nearly all women, as anyone who follows her on the ’gram will know. Her chief of staff, Mai Huynh, frequently makes hilarious appearances, essentially becoming a star in her own right — usually at Robinson’s comedic expense. And then, of course, there is Robinson’s boyfriend, aka British Bake-Off, named fondly in reference to the popular PBS competition show.
“He’s originally from Bournemouth, and there are no people of color there,” she said. “And I had, like, giant, giant braids when I went. So there was a lot of people like, ‘Oh, my God, your hair. It’s so cool.’”
Clearly, the eager Brits hadn’t read Robinson’s book on the subject.
“It wasn’t like a rude thing, so I didn’t mind as much. But still, I was like, ‘Don’t touch my hair,’” she said. “But it was like really cute old ladies being like, ‘You look beautiful.’ And I’m like, ‘All right, I’ll take it.’”