The Carmichael Show: Millennial Funny Man Makes Art Imitate Life In New Sitcom
If you haven’t heard of Jerrod Carmichael let me introduce you to the young comedian adding to the resurgence of Black sitcoms on TV. Carmichael’s new NBC sitcom, The Carmichael Show, is one where art will truly imitate life. The 27-year-old Los Angeles based funny man is bringing race, laughs, sexuality and religion to the forefront.
To be clear, this isn’t your Family Matters or Fresh Prince of Bel Air — Carmichael is more like a relaxed version of Richard Pryor, using comedy in his new sitcom to confront everyday issues in America. The Carmichael Show stars the co-creator and comedian and his therapist-to-be girlfriend, actress Amber Stevens, as they tackle moving forward in their relationship. His outspoken family is played by the famous David Alan Grier, Loretta Devine and Lil Rel Howery.
Carmichael recently spoke with The Daily Beast on what his new show brings to a finally booming space in Black TV saying, “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re trying to make the Goodyear tire.”
While other sitcoms bring much entertainment, they lack “honesty,” as Carmichael puts it.”[The Show] can reflect very natural, very honest conversation and it can be a great stage for it. I’m just trying to get close to that. And shows have gotten so far away… All I know is one of these events happen: a kid gets shot, or just over the summer we saw these weeks where healthcare was a big issue and gay marriage was a big issue. I know in life I was having these conversations, in elevators or with my friends. We’d discuss what’s going on. It really was just—I hate to use the word ‘honest,’ but it was really honest. These are conversations that we’re having. So why not have those on television?”
Carmichael plans to tackle the Black Lives Matter movement, Caitlyn Jenner, gun rights, and organized religion but in a way the audience hasn’t seen them before – so he says. When asked if Black sitcoms should worry about appealing to the mainstream audience or “ghetto-fy” the storyline,the smart producer had this to say:
“I think people respond to truth. Straight Outta Compton made $60 million over the weekend, right? That’s not just a black audience. Empire grew every single week. That’s not just a black audience. Black culture is American culture, you know what I mean? They’re becoming more and more one in the same. That’s a very good and welcome change. That said, we’re an American family. And I talk about things as such.”
Carmichael started as a stand-up comedian known for much of what he hopes his show represents, a real, yet humorous, expansion of what we face in society. Last year, Carmichael made his break-out acting debut in the hit comedy Neighbors. He was also seen in the 2014 HBO special Love at the Store directed by Spike Lee.
Earlier this week we spoke with Loretta Devine about her role in this new series. Check out our exclusive with her here.