Comedian Jerrod Carmichael Has Some Strong Thoughts About Dave Chappelle And The 'Boogeyman' Of Cancel Culture

Jerrod Carmichael on stage for Rothaniel
(Image credit: Netflix)

Stand-up comedian Jerrod Carmichael has been on a sharp ascent in Hollywood throughout the past decade, from his boundary-pushing (and unfairly cancelled) NBC comedy The Carmichael Show to his candid HBO docu-shorts to his increasingly popular stand-up specials and more. It was his latest hour of comedy, Rothaniel, that not only earned him his first guest-hosting gig at Saturday Night Live (for an episode that aired in April), but also gave him a global spotlight in which to come out as gay. Understandably, as a now open member of the LGBTQ+ community, Carmichael has some thoughts on the controversy-courting Dave Chappelle and the idea of cancel culture that has pervaded the entertainment world in recent years. 

During an in-depth discussion with GQ, Jerrod Carmichael opened up about all manner of details about his life and career, including the challenges that came with putting Rothaniel together after spending years away from the stand-up cycle. And in talking about his family’s reactions to the special and his sexuality reveal, he shared that his 15-year-old niece is the one relative who gave him the acknowledgment he was seeking, and credited her youth as being a probable factor in her accepting nature. At which point he calls out other comics for going after younger generations — specifically saying “fuck all those comedians” — and even before he mentions Dave Chappelle’s name, it’s implied he’s speaking about the Netflix-supported juggernaut. Carmichael offered his take on the matter, saying:

Look, I get it. Everybody’s got to create a boogeyman to sell tickets. But it's not true. Who’s getting canceled for what they’ve said? What does that mean, that people are mad on Twitter? Everybody’s fine. These grown men are fine. I think, a lot of times, people who offer nothing truthful or meaningful about themselves then complain about society at large and create this boogeyman. It's like, listen, that's the most urgent thing in your life? God bless you. I'm tired of hearing it.

Anyone casting immediate doubt over Jerrod Carmichael’s dismissal of cancel culture’s existence needs only look at the plethora of reactions to Louis C.K.’s 2022 Grammy win for his special Sincerely Louis C.K., in which he jokes about the sexual misconduct allegations made against him over the years. Promoting the idea of cancel culture can be as much a marketing tool as anything else, since any kind of publicity equals good publicity in one way or another.

That said, Jerrod Carmichael doesn’t want to be a comedian known for punching down just for the sake of kicking up dust to make headlines. He continued, mentioning Dave Chappelle by name and expressing disagreement with how the comedian has handled the controversy over jokes widely viewed as being harmful to the trans community (with Ricky Gervais being criticized for the same thing soon after with his latest special). In Carmichael’s words:

Chappelle, do you know what comes up when you Google your name, bro? That's the legacy? Your legacy is a bunch of opinions on trans shit? It's an odd hill to die on. And it's like, hey, bro. Who the fuck are you? Who do you fuck? What do you like to do? Childish jokes aside, who the fuck are you? It's just kind of played. But he's choosing to die on the hill. So, alright, let him.

It doesn’t sound like any stand-up fans out there should expect to see Jerrod Carmichael and Dave Chappelle teaming up for a cross-country tour together. The On the Count of Three director thinks Chappelle’s trolling-for-the-sake-of-trolling behavior is tired at this point, but begrudgingly gives him the pass to be that guy if that’s what suits him best. 

Rothaniel is available to stream in full with an HBO Max subscription, which will also allow access to Jerrod Carmichael’s other specials. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.