Jerrod Carmichael at the 2023 Golden Globes.
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC via Getty Images
NBC’s clip of Jerrod Carmichael’s opening monologue at the Golden Globes begins several seconds with the usual “Welcome to the 80th annual Golden Globe awards,” but in the early hours when the cameras went to the ballpark at 8 pm ET and Carmichael walked out. , his first words were “Fix it! Fix, fix, fix. People are in the background. Let’s say hi everyone here. He stepped on stage like a well-rehearsed high school teacher trying to control the first class after lunch, waiting for the raucous crowd to rise to his power rather than trying to talk over them. But a teacher in that position knows they have time: They end up having long-term relationships with these students and are able to gain their attention through quiet power. Carmichael’s problem was that the Globes would never give him time.
Carmichael’s opening, seven-minute monologue was the closest the Globes got to the stand-up situation it seemed to want to stop. It was a form of public speaking, in which he aimed to create an intimate relationship with the audience, quickly naming all the elephants in the room but mostly refusing to turn them into laughable, dismissive lines. “I will tell you why I am here. I am here because I am Black,” he said. “The Golden Globe Awards didn’t come out last year, because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – which, I wouldn’t say they were a racist organization, but they didn’t have a Black member until George Floyd died.” Elsewhere in the room, the voices filled with laughter, and it was the first step for Carmichael to find something interesting: an intimate tension not masked by the usual awards patter. Finally, as Carmichael sat down on the steps and began to tell the story of his involvement in the show, he got to the sound he seemed most interested in trying to convey. In a few moments Carmichael stood between the lines, the room was silent.
For award-show hosts and most short comedy sets, silence is the enemy. Silence is disapproval. Silence the rhythm is stopped, the room is dead, the energy level drops to an irreparable low. The actor’s deliberate silence is the focus of the one-man show and the long-form comedic show of the man, and do you know what famously drowned the Golden Globes is not historical about as an award show? A thorough investigation was prompted by the sound of everyone in the room being silenced together by the insistence of someone stepping on the brakes. But as Carmichael has shown many times in his career, he appreciates approval but in the end he only likes what happens when people hoping to laugh are denied any easy means of relief. Carmichael fans would have turned on the Globes already knowing he had made it 8important that deliberately removes the laughter of the audience, and recently Rothanielwhich begins as a stand-up, then creates opportunities for its viewers to ask themselves what comedy is that’s it. But more (and better, because in the end Carmichael wanted that silence), a large portion of the Globes audience and viewers at home were not prepared for his complete disinterest in the standard awards-monologue format.
He explained his process in agreeing to host the show: his “cultural, ethnic dilemma” about doing it, how much he was paid (half a million dollars, reportedly, which is much more than Wanda Sykes told Jimmy Kimmel that she was paid the Oscars in 2022), and her refusal to have a one-on-one with the president of the HFPA. “Or what? Are they going to fire me?” Carmichael said. “They haven’t had a Black player in 79 years. Are they going to fire the first one? I can’t get over it. The crowd laughed, but it wasn’t a free laugh. In a few moments during the opening seven minutes, Carmichael produced the results he seemed to be aiming for: an intimate show. , the installation is spectacular and fun, and the show is, at its core, very focused on his presence. host. It’s amazing that Carmichael was able to argue any of that loud celebration in his uncomfortable, full-view space.
But then, like Cinderella in the middle of the night when an untouchable worker suddenly remembers that he still has to do his job, Carmichael had to come back to host the award show. “I look around this room, and I see a lot of talented people — like, people I admire, people I want to be like,” he said. “This is a day we celebrate, and I think the industry deserves an evening like this.” It was a straw-man change, a sudden rise in decorum that somehow showed that everyone should be happy not because of the HFPA but somehow in spite of it. It doesn’t matter that for the rest of the night, the winners would breathe thanks to the HFPA for their consideration and that no one said that all award ceremonies should be canceled because this one was. Carmichael succeeded in stopping the show for a while but couldn’t help but agree to the old and ugly truism that the show must go on.
If that had been the full contribution of Carmichael, the interesting dissonance of the two motivations would have sat in a striking comparison to each other. Besides the fact that Carmichael had to keep coming back from time to time to introduce new presenters, he reprimanded people on Twitter for being angry that pianist Chloe Flower was canceling the welcome speech, and the drawing of beautiful new clothes changes every time of the sale. More than once, he seemed confused or a little angry that the room was giving him so little attention, again asking audience members to settle down or take their seats. On one occasion returning from a commercial break, Carmichael was in the middle of the room looking sideways at a security guard as if he wished they would help him keep up the noise. He seemed to want to return to the room as he had left it: silent, uncertain, taken by him, uneasy about himself. The Globes had no patience for it and never would. The idea of commemorating awards is too strong, and the ways of congratulation are too powerful – especially when they are fueled by a room full of people who just want to do normal things and bottles of Moët support.
As the show went on, Carmichael got better at moments where he was more aggressive – like his joke about the mysterious disappearance of Scientologist Shelly Miscavige. This may have been an unusual goal, but it was Carmichael operating in the usual Globes-host playbook: Show up, make a well-crafted joke, step left. The audience gasped, but it was a whiff of happy anger, not quiet wisdom. In the end, whatever special magic Carmichael had built up in this opening had dissipated and it became what the Golden Globes were always going to be: an awards show — no less, but also no more.