Jerrod Carmichael, remember that name. He’s the guy taking the comedy world by storm. His first stand-up special was directed by Spike Lee and went straight to HBO— even though almost no one knew who he was at the time.
Then he got his own show on NBC that was released with almost no promotion, but became one of last summer’s biggest hits. Now, the show is back and the ratings are climbing each week. It’s the first to do a #BlackLivesMatter episode, even though ABC’s black-ish got all the credit for doing it after.
The Carmichael Show on NBC is funny, yes, but it’s also not afraid to tackle real issues with humor and start the conversations we need to have, including topics on gender, race, health, prison, church, and terrorism.
Carmichael’s personality comes from an upbringing that he’s very proud of, “I grew up in, uh, ‘the hood’ if you will, and I watched Frasier,” he revealed. A lot of people tend to think that a person like that would have to exist in separate worlds, but Carmichael thinks differently: “It’s not even a dual existence, it’s the same human being.”
Many champion the idea of being “unapologetically Black,” but the twenty-something refers to the times we live in as an invitation to be “unapologetically yourself.”
“What’s great about where Black America is, it’s the first time in history where Black people are able to be human beings. And what I mean by that is whatever you’re into, whatever you do, just do it!” he said.
Carmichael thinks Pharrell used to be the exception. He was the guy doing things that weren’t considered “Black” – like skateboarding – but now he’s known for setting the trends.
“What I hate and what’s so dividing at times is being told what you can and can’t do like, ‘That’s not Black,’ and I think that hopefully the show and hopefully what I represent is an entire new generation of Black people who just exist, who are just human beings.”
He does, however, understand the importance of representing Blackness correctly: “We still have a responsibility obviously, it’s not to diminish our responsibility, but it’s to play into us just really being ourselves.”
Expounding upon that, The Carmichael Show will challenge your world views, from a Bill Cosby episode to their recent Muslim neighbors plot line.
“I believe my job as a comedian is to lean into what Mark Twain did. I think we are part philosophers; we’re humorous, we’re satire, it’s our observation on modern society, on modern culture. So it’s my job to challenge, it’s my job to bring up those things. And so, even those things that seem so shocking are really done with the biggest intention behind it.”
Along with his friends, whom he jokingly calls The Golden Lords – like Lil Rel, The Lucas Bros, Hannibal Buress, Michael Che, and others – Carmichael is changing the face of comedy with an unorthodox way of thinking.
It’s a genuinely new wave of people who think outside the box and who aren’t inhibited by what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to do things, and how our art is supposed to look and sound, which is why Hannibal Buress voiced the role of the Lucas Bros’ mother on the cartoon Lucas Bros Moving Company.
“I remember being in [the writers room for The Lucas Bros Moving Co] and they were thinking about a mom and I said let’s just get Hannibal? It’s just, that sounds completely insane and why wouldn’t we do that, like who’s stopping us…so we just did it.”
It’s that type of brilliant thinking that has Carmichael climbing to the top of the comedy world, even though some people are saying he came up too fast. He would like to remind his haters that he and the Golden Lords worked really hard.
“We all came up and we work really, really hard. We continue to work really, really hard. I remember literally sitting in the back of the Lucas Bros car in New York waiting for an open mic with holes in my shoes in like the middle of a blizzard. That type of impossible situation is how we did comedy and we loved it, we had a lot of fun, we continued to have a lot of fun,” he said.
“Everyone from me and The Lucas Bros, Jermaine Fowler, Michael Che, and Lil Rel and all these guys, we all have just very unique visions and very unique points of views and are very unapologetic about that. That’s why we connect. Even in our differences, we all just appreciate each other, we appreciate what we’re trying to do.”
We appreciate it, too. The Carmichael Show airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty