I can’t say that I was onto Jerrod Carmichael from the beginning. I only caught him because I was bored and saw a new comedy on NBC.com. I typically despise NBC, but that’s more a condemnation on their handling/scheduling of shows, not their ability to create quality programming. I watched the pilot not expecting much. I was very pleasantly surprised right from the start. The cast is great with Loretta Devine and David Alan Grier playing perfect disconnected parents. His girlfriend Maxine, played by Amber Stevens West, captures the antithesis in Jerrod’s less privileged upbringing. LilRel Howery and Tiffany Haddish round out the cast as perfect supporting characters that bring the cooky comedy exactly when it’s needed. At the end of the day, his sitcom just forced me to seek out more.
Jerrod Carmichael: 8 is the comedian’s second stand-up special. The first being Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store filmed by Spike Lee. This time around, Carmichael enlisted fellow comedian Bo Burnham to film.
Put simply, Jerrod captures an out of the box view of this world and presents it in a very unapologetic way. But that’s not to say he doesn’t realize it’s not popular or that some people might be uncomfortable by his words. He knows. And he takes great care in his delivery. Case in point, his very emotional opening line to the special captures the feelings of a nation, “are we going to be okay?” It’s clearly a well thought out introduction. He delivers it with fantastic emotion. He’s already got us in his hands as he looks up to see the reaction. His thoughtful eyes hide his youth. He wants us to think this is all conversational, as if he’s just picking out topics off the top of his head. But if you know anything about comedians, especially the great ones, you know they put in a lot of hard work and training to perfect their craft. That is exactly what Jerrod displays with this opening line. He knows how to get us engaged and wanting more.
His next line goes right into the meat of his humor. “We have a new king.” Again, it’s not just the words, but the way in which he delivers the idea with empathy. He knows his audience perfectly. And uses it as he quickly delves into the idea that Trump’s Presidential win is not a loss for woman… but it’s definitely a victory for men. Yes, outside the box thinking. And I’m hooked with the humor of such a silly concept. Oh yeah, and he delivers the joke with the trademarked Carmichael smile that’s let’s us know it’s okay to laugh at such absurdity.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole special, which clocks in at just under an hour. I am not a young black man in America, so I literally can’t relate to Jerrod’s experiences, but he delivers his ideas in a way that a middle aged white man from Ohio, now living in Las Vegas thinks is hilarious (yeah, that’s my demographic). I don’t listen to Jay Z religiously, but I get the idea that a famous musician has more modern relevance on my life than a historical icon, in Jerrod’s case that’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Obviously that’s not a popular sentiment to say out loud, but I’m sure many people have similar non-politically correct thoughts that they keep hidden for fear of judgment.
Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the special was Jerrod’s conversation with the audience. He always appears in total control, but incorporates the audience’s impromptu responses to some of his questions. I’d love to see his style of wit take on a true heckler. But in this instance he simply take the comments and wraps them into his bits adding a level of conversation and cooperation. Again, a master who has practiced, but makes it look tremendously easy.
If I had a criticism, it would be that some of the jokes in this special are clearly ideas that were used in episodes of his show. That being said, I did enjoy seeing how they played out in stand-up versus being stretched out over the course of a half hour sitcom.
At the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed Jerrod Carmichael: 8. I give it four out of five Nerdskulls.
Check out the trailer below:
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