Hilton Als accuses Jerrod Carmichael of cynicism, “dystopian comedy” in blistering critique

Jerrod Carmichael at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Jerrod Carmichael at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards Photo: Rich Polk/NBC

Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Hilton Als was not a fan of Jerrod Carmichael’s performance as host of Tuesday night’s 80th annual Golden Globes. The New Yorker writer took to Instagram Wednesday to deliver his blistering critique.

“Dystopian comedy is not really comedy because it doesn’t contain a shred of hope, or any other human aspiration, which is what comedy is: about how we aspire, fail, get up again,” Als wrote in the caption to a photo of Carmichael from the awards show. “Bitter smugness is not really a style, but it can be part of one’s self-proclamation, especially if you’re bathing in the privilege of lines like, ‘And so my publicist called again and said again,’ etc.”

Als was referring to Carmichael’s purposefully awkward opening monologue on the Golden Globes telecast, in which the 35-year-old comic addressed the fact that in 2021 it was revealed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had zero Black members at the time. Carmichael described the circumstances that led to his hosting gig, presumably by way of explaining his involvement with the controversial organization’s awards ceremony.

At various points in the evening Carmichael told the audience quiet down, which Vulture critic Kathryn VanArendonk interpreted as an attempt to create a sense of intimacy and force the stars and industry heavyweights in the room to acknowledge and sit in the awkwardness of the situation.

Als didn’t see it that way. “The point is you do not tell your elders to shut up, you do not say a hotel is responsible for Whitney Houston’s death, you do not drag dear Niecy Nash through your contempt-slime and call it gay fraternity, and you do not sell race as something that can be sold, or should be. You do not match network/award Gods cynicism by giving side eye while your black butt signs on the dotted line, thus justifying their cynicism about colored people in the first place: We tried! And look how they do….”

As he paced the stage during his opening monologue, Carmichael told the crowd, “I’m here because I’m Black.” He also made a point of revealing that a friend advised him to take the gig hosting the Golden Globes after learning that the HFPA offered him $500,000.

Later in the show, he introduced Niecy Nash-Betts saying, “We both gay now, so that’s cool.” He also drew criticism following the show for referring to the Beverly Hilton, where the Golden Globes took place, as “the hotel that killed Whitney Houston.” (Houston was found dead in her suite at the hotel in 2012.)

“And lastly you do not believe any of this has to do with the human experience other than your own, and being gay—take it from me—is not an occasion to be rewarded, or make you exempt from caring for other people because of your pain,” Als continued in his post, seemingly taking a shot at Carmichael’s Emmy-winning comedy special Rothaniel, in which the comic came out publicly. “We all have pain. But many of us don’t have the privilege of lying about who we are on a sitcom for a lot of cash, and then redressing that lie in close-up on HBO when we come out. For more money and attention.”

“What you do before the gig, though, is grow up, get that chip off your shoulder, and care for others more than you know how to care for your ‘profile,’” Als continued. “In short, you learn to communicate with other people, and hope they can love you back. That’s the joy and vulnerability inherent in performing, which is an honor, not an occasion for contempt.”

Als wrapped up by referencing the comedian’s The Carmichael Show co-star Tiffany Haddish’s 2017 stand-up special She Ready! in his verdict on Carmichael: “To paraphrase the wonderful Tiffany Haddish: Jarrod, he ain’t ready.”


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So far, Carmichael, who is not active on social media, has not commented on Als’s take-down.

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