Jerrod Carmichael at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards.
Photo: Rich Polk/NBC via Getty Images
NBC clip of Jerrod Carmichael’s opening monologue at the Golden Globes He started several seconds away with “Welcome to the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards,” but in the first moments when the cameras panned straight into the ballroom at 8pm ET and Carmichael walked out, his first words were actually “Settlement! Settlement, settlement, settlement.” People in the back. Let’s be a little quiet here, everyone.” He walked around the stage like a seasoned high school teacher trying to regain control of the first grade class after their lunch break, waiting for the boisterous group to reach their energy level rather than trying to talk them down. But the teacher in this position knows they have time: They will eventually have a long relationship with these students and can hold their attention with quiet strength. Carmichael’s problem was that the Globe would never give him time.
Carmichael’s seven-minute opening was one of the closest Globus’s monologues the situation seems to want to establish. It was a technique of blunt disclosure, aiming to create a sense of intimacy with the audience, and he quickly names all the elephants in the room but remarkably refuses to turn them into easy, dismissive joke lines. “I’ll tell you why I’m here. I’m here because I’m black,” he said. “The Golden Globe Awards didn’t air last year, because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association — which, I wouldn’t say is a racist organization, but they didn’t have a single black member until George Floyd’s death Somewhere in the room, voices roared with laughter, and this was the first step toward Carmichael achieving something interesting: an intimate awkwardness untainted by the familiar patter of awards. At last, when Carmichael casually sat on the steps and began to recount The story of his participation in the show, he got to the voice he seemed most interested in trying to draw in. Within a few moments when Carmichael paused between the lines, the room was silent.
For the hosts of award shows and most short comedy compilations, silence is the enemy. Silence is disapproval. Silence is a stopped rhythm, a dead room, an energy level that drops to unrecoverable lows. The willful silence of the performers is the scope of the show’s one-man and long comedic personal meditation, and you know what the wine-famous Golden Globe Awards aren’t historically about? A deep introspection driven by everyone’s sense of calm in a room together captured by one person’s insistence on slamming on the brakes. But as Carmichael has shown time and again in his work, he values approval but is ultimately quite interested in what happens when people expecting comedy are denied any easy outlets for relief. Carmichael fans have turned on The Globes already knowing he was made 8private Willfully cracking up the audience’s laughter, and lately Rothanielwhich begins as an occasional stand-up, then creates opportunities for viewers to ask themselves what comedy is even he. But for worse (and for better, because ultimately Carmichael wanted it to). That silence), much of the Globes audience in the room and viewers at home weren’t prepared for his total lack of interest in the usual award-winning monologue format.
He described his process in agreeing to host the show: his “moral and racial dilemma” about doing so, How much did he get paid (Half a million dollars, it is said, which is Many more than Wanda Sykes told Jimmy Kimmel She won the Academy Awards in 2022), and his refusal to have a one-on-one meeting with the President of the HFPA. “Or what? Are they going to kick me out?” Carmichael said. “They haven’t had a black host in 79 years. Will they shoot the first one? I’m unstoppable.” The crowd laughed a little, but it wasn’t a comfortable laugh. In a few stretches over those opening seven minutes, Carmichael created the awards show he seemed to be aiming for: a show that’s heartwarming, terrifying and funny, and one that at its core focuses largely on his own presence as host. It’s really impressive that Carmichael managed to stir up any of the raucous ceremonies in his lopsided space on purpose and undivided attention.
But then, like Cinderella in the middle of the night or an employee who couldn’t be released who suddenly remembered he still had to do his job, Carmichael had to go back to hosting the awards show. “I look into this room,” he said, “and I see a lot of talented people — like, people that I like, people that I would like to be like.” “This is an evening to celebrate, and I think this industry deserves evenings like this.” It was a simple transition, a sudden appeal to fitness that somehow suggested everyone should be happy not because of HFPA but somehow in spite of them. Regardless that for the rest of the night the winners were thanking the HFPA for their thoughtfulness and that at no point was anyone suggesting that all award ceremonies should be canceled because this was it. Carmichael had successfully paused the show for a moment, but he couldn’t help but finally admit the oldest, unsavory truth that the show must go on.
If this is Carmichael’s total contribution, the pleasing dissonance of these two impulses may have remained in striking balance with one another. Except that Carmichael had to keep coming back occasionally to introduce new presenters, chided people on Twitter for getting angry that pianist Chloe Flower was cutting acceptance speeches, and debuting a new outfit every few commercial breaks. More than once, he seemed a bit confused or annoyed that the room was paying him so little attention, and he repeatedly asked audience members to sit down or to be seated. On one return from a commercial break, Carmichael was sitting in the middle of the room glancing at a security member as if he wished he could help keep the ever-growing commotion going. He seemed to want to go back to the room because he had left it: quiet, unsure, taken with him, uneasy about it. The Globes had no patience for that and never would have. The memory of playful awards is so powerful, and the mechanics of congratulation so powerful—especially when fueled by a room full of people who just want to be ordinary and bottles of Moët care.
As the show went on, Carmichael did better in the moments when he slipped in sharper blows — like His joke is about the mysterious loss of Scientologist Shelly Miscavige. It may have been an unusual goal, but it was Carmichael operating in a more typical Globes host playbook: Show up, make a joke clearly as a joke, and run off stage to the left. The audience gasped, but it was a gasp of gentle anger, not of quiet caution. In the end, all of Carmichael’s signature wizardry that he had built up in that opener dissipated and the Golden Globes always were: an awards show — no less but no more.