“The jokes weren’t funny, I took the money”; Jerrod Carmichael at the Golden Globes.

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Rich Polk/People Magazine

Jerrod Carmichael getting comfortable with his audience at the Golden Globes

Nirja Thaler, Journalist

Jerrod Carmichael hosted the 80th Golden Globes awards on January 10th, 2023, although instead of doing a typical comedy sketch he shocked the audience by speaking about how he was hired because he was Black. 

In 2022, the Golden Globes did not air due to a controversy, which Carmichael touched on by saying “I won’t say they were a racist organization, but they didn’t have a single Black member until George Floyd died.” Last year, “there were no celebrity presenters and no red carpet” which was “in response to controversy over the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s questionable practices and lack of diversity,” says NPR. 

Carmichael explains he was conflicted from the beginning and didn’t accept immediately. He called a friend who asked him how much he was getting paid, and he disclosed -on live television- he would receive $500,000. She said, “Boy, if you don’t put on a good suit and take them White people money…”

There were times Carmichael intend to be humorous. When producer Stephen Hill offered him the host, he said “I’m only being asked… because I’m Black.” Hill cut him off by saying “you are being asked…because you are talented… because you are charming…because you are one of the greatest comedians of a generation,” which Carmichael followed with “but Stephen’s Black, so what does he know?” and the audience laughed appropriately. 

However, there were many times when the audience’s laugh did not seem fitting. Carmichael refused to have a meeting with higher-ups because he didn’t want to hear the “changes the organization has made in regards to diversity.” The audience laughed after he said, “I took this job assuming they hadn’t changed at all.” 

Out of context, this doesn’t seem to be a joke, but simply the detailing of Carmichael’s thought process. It’s likely most people were laughing out of discomfort. After all, Carmichael was talking about the very organization that brought them all there, but it begs an important question: why are people so nervous when it comes to talking about race?

Even more important than the audience’s laughter were some of the camera choices NBC made. 6 Black audience members were shown in every 10 audience shots in Carmichael’s performance whereas 1 out of 6 Black audience members were shown in Jennifer Coolidge’s and Austin Butler’s speeches, meaning Black audience members were shown on average 43% more during Carmichael’s speech.

*”The jokes weren’t funny, I took the money” is a quote from the song “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” by Taylor Swift, not a quote from Carmichael.