Throughout the show, Carmichael repeatedly discussed his friendship with Burnham and followed every mention with, “… whose mom is here tonight!”
Jerrod Carmichael is “burdened by the life he has to design.”
The 35-year-old stand up comedian performed at the Wilbur this past Friday for his first show back from his widely-discussed HBO special Rothaniel. In that special he did what he considers the unthinkable: he came out.
Now, with that major Boston event and moment behind him, he must figure out what’s next.
Friday’s show was still defined by dry delivery and jokes that made Carmichael put his head in his hands, but it felt different from his previous work. If his last special was defined by the secrets of his life, this show was about a man who doesn’t know what to do when there are no secrets left.
He mostly focused on his sex life and how he feels completely obsessed with sex, despite his very intense desire and need to have a genuine connection and relationship. When Carmichael came to the end of his prepared material, he told the audience that his goal for the show was to “keep the horny people on his side.” But, like all of his work, there was a darker, more serious connotation to every joke.
What if all of his kinks are from trauma? What if sex is no longer as good as it was when he was in the closet because it isn’t a secret anymore? What if this is all his life will ever be? Carmichael poses these questions but clearly feels overwhelmed by the potential answers, even saying at one point, Oh I need to write that down for my therapist.
Although he performed to a packed audience, he seemed hyperfocused on one particular audience member. On his recent appearance on Dax Shepherd’s Armchair Expert podcast, he discussed the show at the Wilbur and expresses his excitement because his best friend’s mom was slated to be there. His best friend is, of course, Massachusetts-native Bo Burnham, the director of his last two specials …
Throughout the show, Carmichael repeatedly discussed his friendship with Burnham, and followed every mention with, “… whose mom is here tonight!” He’s spoken out about how Burnham’s mother has cared for him and acknowledged his queerness in a way his own mother cannot bring herself too; her attending this show clearly meant a lot to the comedian, and affirmed her place in his life.
Around the 45-minute mark, Carmichael ran out of material. As the first show since his well-received special, SNL hosting, and movie release (he is the director and star of On the Count of Three which was released on May 13), he was clearly working out new stuff. So when he ran out, he asked the audience, “So what do you want to talk about? The Celtics?”
After a classic Boston sports cheer that he deemed “incredibly too proud,” Carmichael more or less opened the show up to audience questions. This is not a new format for him, as he highly encouraged the audience to participate in Rothaniel, even saying that the show does not work without their input. So he fielded questions about whether he has slept with someone in Boston yet, discussed Lebron losing his hair and then growing it back only to then lose it again, and thanked the people who were shouting compliments about all of his work.
Toward the very end, someone asked “how’s your mom?”
“Oh you want me to end the show crying don’t you,” Carmichael responded. He’s been very vocal about his religious mother’s relationship to his coming out experience, even revealing on Late Night with Seth Meyers that his mother said “these sins are tearing the family apart.”
He told the audience it was her birthday the other day, and there is no update. He then said his goodnites, stood up from his folding chair, and left.
Katherine (Kate) Healy is a Publishing master’s student at Emerson College. She mostly writes feminist nonfiction which can be read in Fettucine the Zine, Mode Magazine, and her personal diary. Her hobbies include drinking too much redbull, developing crushes on people she’s never met, and listening to sad music.