Tiny Couch Review

Jerrod Carmichael: 8 (2017)

  • LeagoMkhondo
    Entry Critic

    11 posts
    Signed up the 25/04/2017

    On 06/09/2017 at 09:53 Quote this message


    I'm gonna start by firmly stating that I’m not a stand-up comedy fan, particularly because a lot of it is gimmicks and the observational comedy is unoriginal. I mean the greats like Eddie Murphy, Dave Chapelle, Wanda Sykes, Richard Pryor, Damon Wayans and Katt Williams will always be timeless, but I can live without seeing their material again.

    Now I’m sure you're wondering why then I chose to review a stand-up special if they're not my cup of tea. Well, this one is different (and I know a lot of people say that about their favourite things) but there is something about Jerrod Carmichael that makes him stand out from the crowd (his peers and arguably maybe stand-up comedians from the past). And for me that is his dark and completive approach to comedy as a whole.

    If you're not familiar with the name, then you have a lot of catching up to do. I first took note of Jerrod a year ago with his NBC sitcom “The Carmichael Show” which features a fictional version of his real-life family – co-starring Amber Stevens West, Lil Rel Howrey, Loretta Devine, David Alan Grier and breakout star Tiffany Haddish. The show tackles societal issues such as depression, patriarchy and feminism, pornography, social media, suicide – and looks at the perspective of all the characters, each of whom are an accurate portrayal of the everyday American. They often clash due to their different ideologies, which brings light and humour into the show. Jerrod derived most of his stand-up from topics discussed on the show. His similarity to the character, which is indifferent and nonchalant, contributed to a lot of the quick witted humour and his thought process.

    “8” premiered on HBO in March 2017, directed by fellow comedian Bo Burnham. Unlike most stand-up, this one is visually pleasing and features Jerrod standing in the centre of his audience, with a spot light that shines directly at him. The camera moves around him which can be an interpretation of us getting in his head with him. He starts off with a very impending and open-ended question – “Are we gonna be OK.” That could be in relation to a lot of things. Of course, he brings up the topic of Trump and the future of America in his hands. Additionally, he oddly questions whether we are the reason for Trump being this mean, by implying that had he been shown kindness and not being publicly bullied for years, he might have been a different person.

    He asks a lot of awkward questions that people have probably thought of but have not publicly admitted to and leaves enough pauses for the audience to fill out the silences with conclusions of their own. One could find the discussions shocking or unnerving if some subjects are sensitive to you like global warming, human preservation, animal rights, the American troops, love and marriage – among other things. What I like is how he repeatedly interrogates himself – constantly asking why he doesn't care enough or why he is not more serious about things; or have a cause that he is passionate about; or generally wanting to be a better black person but not knowing how to start, which could be said about many of us. I love how vulnerable he was.

    My favourite part of the special is where he noted or rather believed that our grandparents didn't love each other. That they only got married cause they had nothing else to do. How our grandmothers were probably depressed because of the baggage they carried or how our grandfathers were bad husbands because “being a good husband is a new concept.” And, “At best he was emotionless, at worst he hit your grandma”.

    It was astonishing to me to witness the audience laugh. Granted the manner he presented the content in was meant to be amusing, but the truth is, all of it was quite gloaming for a “comedy special”. It left things rattling in your head, retaining a sense of dissonance. If you looked at it the way I did, the stand-up was artistic. Imagine watching Jay-Z live in concert but instead of rapping his lyrics, he is just speaking them. It isn't the observational comedy everyone is used to, which often times can be offensive to racial, religious and cultural groups and, that is why I love it. It was a man deliberating on what most of us have been reflecting on too. Don't expect to laugh out loud more than the occasional “oh shit” unless you're into that type of stuff.

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