Dakota Ray Hebert is crack-a-lacking

Dakota Ray Hebert is a Dene comedian, actress, and writer from Canada. She is most noted for her performance in the 2021 film Run Woman Run, for which she won the awards for Best Actress at the 2021 American Indian Film Festival and Best Performance at the 2022 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.

Originally from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Hebert became known as a stage actress, including in productions of Tara Beagan’s Dreary and Izzy, Falen Johnson’s Salt Baby, and Ellie Moon’s This Was the World. In 2019, she wrote and starred in the play Native Studies 101 for the Gordon Tootoosis Nikaniwin Theatre in Saskatoon.

In 2022 she released her debut comedy album I’ll Give You an Indian Act, performed at the Toronto edition of Just for Laughs, and appeared in an episode of Comedy Night with Rick Mercer. She co-stars in the new 2023 CTV workplace sitcom Shelved. She is also slated to appear in two Season 3 episodes of Roast Battle Canada, battling Paul Rabliauskas and Alan Shane Lewis. In 2024, she co-starred in the Disney+ original series Echo.

What were you like as a teen? Were you already funny?
I think I was! I was definitely a rambunctious goofball; aimed to make my peers AND teachers laugh. I had my sights set on being an actor, but I loved listening to standup.
Did you have an un-sexy starter job? 
A ton. Worked at La Senza (Canadian Victoria’s Secret) and got written up for saying “gitch” (I had a hard time saying “panties”). I worked as a Stone Chip Tech at Novus Auto Glass, and then a Windshield Installer at Leduc Crystal Glass. One time I was a Shoe Shiner in Toronto’s financial district. Lots of material. Lots of stories. And motivation to not work those jobs again (I suck at having a boss).
What do you consider to be your biggest comedy achievement to date?
Just For Laughs: New Faces for sure! But also writing punchup jokes for two TV shows that I ended up getting cast to act in; Shelved and Zarqa. Oh! I can’t say much about it now, you’ll know when it comes out, but I was hired to write two episodes for a new animated comedy series that is produced by and voiced by some big names; I had no idea comedy could open so many doors!
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it? 
The comedy camaraderie! I loved making friends, talking shop, hearing stories, closing down bars, all of that fun stuff that comes with comedy. Then once I got good, hearing consistent laughter. Knowing I could make crowds laugh consistently kept me working as hard as I played. Challenging myself to see how long I could make those laughs, or how far I could push boundaries, all helped me stick with comedy, but also stick with wanting to be a Professional.
Have you ever dealt with trolls? Hecklers? Toxic colleagues? 
Oh, of course! On all three accounts! I don’t often get heckled now, but if I do, the audience wants to root for you; shut down the heckler gently and in a funny way. It keeps the room happy. As for trolls and toxic colleagues, in my experience, they feed off of negative attention; the best thing to do is kill’em with kindness or ignore.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian? 
‘Tough Love’ and ‘Shitty Advice’ might feel the same to receive, but only one is helpful; learn how to differentiate between the two.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
It was when I first started and had that rookie comic cockiness. A booker I respected essentially said, “Quit being delusional, and start being consistent”. I definitely needed that honesty, and those words still kick around my head every so often when I’m losin’ the thread on a new joke.
Worst comedy advice you ever got? 
Omg. I’m paraphrasing, but bad advice includes and is not limited to: “Be more rezzy.” – thank you yt man, but I did not grow up on my reserve; this would be so icky and inauthentic!
“Don’t talk about women’s things, like chuggin’ dicks and having periods.” Dude, I just sat through 8 men talking about having sex and/or masturbating and/or sharing various stories about their wieners; leave me alone.
“Don’t be so political.” Well, if the government would stop fkn up the stuff my life heavily centers around, like women’s rights, LGBTQ2S+ rights, Indigenous/Treaty rights, education, healthcare, etc, then I’d be able to make more jokes about non-political stuff; take up yer beef with those dinks, please.
How has being funny helped you in your life,? 
I don’t want to get too deep into this, so I’ll just say: During my life’s darkest hardships, seeing things from a humourous perspective allowed light to crack through. That light is warmth, and hope, and is a guide out of the darkness.
What specific things should a novice comic do to shape their voice?
Take stock of how you make your friends and family laugh (what stories did you tell, how did you tell them). Read books to expand your vocabulary. Watch and listen to headlining comedians, and/or comedians you admire. But above all, hit all the mics you can. The more experience you get, the more comfortable you get, the more consistent you get, and the easier it is to lean on your material to test out different voices/personalities/etc.
Was there one person who inspired you to go into comedy?
This is a tough one. My Grandma Lefa and Auntie Tavia encouraged me to pursue standup. My best friend Zoey got me to my first open mic. But, Jeff Foxworthy was the first comedian I listened to (I was a kid, utilizing my parents’ Walkman, and they had his cassette). So not any ONE person, but the collective effort of those four.
Do you have a writing routine?
Whenever an idea comes to me, I immediately write it down ’cause I will forget. From there, I expand on what I thought was funny. Then, I try it on at an open mic.
And the process repeats from there; it can expand from riffs, flex into something else, get molded into another joke, or sometimes left behind until I’m ready to pick it up again (or sometimes it just gets axed). But for me, the writing process as a standup goes hand-in-hand with getting on stage. I gotta know if I’m on to something, so I don’t wanna crank out 4 pages on material that the audience can’t relate to.
What is your go-to show or movie when you’ve had a bad day?
Oh jeez. Legally Blonde, How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, Smile, The Conjuring, 1408, The Office, BoJack Horseman, and lately, Dexter and How I Met Your Mother.
What single word always cracks you up?
Haha, this is very specific, but I always crack up at the way Neil Grahn (one of my fave directors I worked with) says “crack-a-lacking”.