Jerrod Carmichael – Uber-Productivity and Dangerous Comedy



“Everyone’s looking for rules to follow, and the sooner you realize there aren’t any, the better art can be.”
– Jerrod Carmichael

Jerrod Carmichael (@NotoriousROD) is pushing the boundaries of comedy with his groundbreaking work in stand-up, television, and film. Now just 29 years old, what this driven North Carolina native has accomplished is mind-boggling, and 2017 is going to be his biggest year yet.

Jerrod stars in the hit NBC series The Carmichael Show, which he also writes and executive produces. The third season of the show premieres in 2017. In March of 2017, Jerrod will star in his second stand-up comedy special on HBO, directed by Bo Burnham. He made his debut on HBO in 2014 with his critically acclaimed one-hour special, Love at the Store, directed by Spike Lee.

Love at the Store is the funniest standup special I’ve seen in many years, and it’s the reason I reached out to Jerrod. It left me in hysterics on a transatlantic flight and terrified everyone. I couldn’t stop laughing out loud. It’s that good.

On the big screen this June, Jerrod joins the cast of Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight, opposite Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, and Anthony Hopkins. He’ll also appear in James Franco’s The Masterpiece (originally titled The Disaster Artist), set to be released in 2017.

In the summer of 2016, Jerrod reprised his role as ‘Garf’ in the Universal comedy sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opposite Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. He also starred as ‘Freddy’ opposite Rose Byrne, Susan Sarandon, and J.K. Simmons in Lorene Scafaria’s The Meddler, which was released in April of 2016.

Jerrod recently announced his upcoming authorial debut with an as-yet-untitled memoir. The novel will be published by Random House.

Please enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with Jerrod Carmichael!


Listen to it on iTunes.
Stream by clicking here.
Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”

Want to hear another episode with a standup comedian? — Listen to Whitney Cummings on the podcast. In this episode, we discuss emotional intelligence, how to overcome workaholic tendencies, managing instant gratification and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Jerrod Carmichael:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

The Carmichael Show on NBC
Love at the Store HBO special
Transformers: The Last Knight
The Masterpiece
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
The Meddler
The Sellout: A Novel by Paul Beatty
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X, Alex Haley, and Attallah Shabazz
Bogart by Ann Sperber
Discover the Power Within You: A Guide to the Unexplored Depths Within by Eric Butterworth
Shay Carl — From Manual Laborer to 2.3 Billion YouTube Views
Jerrod Carmichael on How He Fought NBC to Do a Show About Bill Cosby & Why He Thinks Diversity Should Not Be a Hot Topic — Emmys by Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood
When jotting down ideas, old-fashioned notebooks and pens do the trick for Jerrod.

Show Notes

My introduction to Jerrod and his work. [07:08]
We swap Evan Goldberg stories. [10:23]
First memory of being funny. [12:35]
On childhood freedom, family, and growing up in North Carolina. [16:12]
What drove Jerrod to move to Los Angeles and pursue comedy as a career? [18:36]
If comedy doesn’t work out, Jerrod can always go back to his last profession: selling shoes. [23:15]
Jerrod’s daily habits — and why he calls his mom first thing every morning. [24:21]
Jerrod’s first time on stage as a comedian. [30:41]
Advice Jerrod would give to a novice comic whose set just bombed. [31:38]
Why Jerrod was so persistent about taping his first special at The Comedy Store. [33:12]
Bryan Callen and Dov Davidoff bought Jerrod his first car in L.A. [34:38]
The benefits of being a creature of habit. [36:42]
Work music. [37:48]
Best decisions of Jerrod’s early career and having supportive friends who understand the importance of work. [38:25]
Where did Jerrod’s deep work ethic originate? [41:57]
Jerrod’s first time at “a proper dance party.” [43:19]
Common mistakes Jerrod sees novice comedians make. [44:30]
Three comedians Jerrod would combine into one super-comedian. [45:19]
What separates a good comedian from a great comedian? [47:30]
How does Jerrod’s onstage persona differ from his real-life persona? [49:26]
On achieving a state of “zero fear” before performing. [51:05]
Has Jerrod gone through any periods of self-doubt? [52:10]
Overcoming writer’s block. [53:06]
Books Jerrod likes. [55:36]
Advice to anyone who’s still trying to discover who they are. [57:42]
Who comes to mind when Jerrod hears the word “successful?” [1:00:24]
On the joy of sharing and the wisdom of cliches. [1:01:16]
If Jerrod were to give a TED Talk about something for which he’s not known, what would the topic be? [1:05:23]
Bad advice Jerrod hears frequently. [1:08:05]
Favorite failures? [1:09:42]
Establishing a unique style without getting pigeonholed. [1:11:49]
Did Jerrod have a plan B in case comedy didn’t work out? [1:14:41]
What might Jerrod do if he ever decided to take a break from comedy? [1:16:11]
What would Jerrod’s billboard message say? [1:17:14]
Unusual practices in the creative process. [1:20:44]
Recent purchase of $100 or less that had a positive impact. [1:22:47]
On thoughts and goals worth writing down. [1:23:38]
Parting thoughts and Jon & Vinny’s bolognese. [1:26:10]

People Mentioned

Bo Burnham
Spike Lee
Michael Bay
Mark Wahlberg
Josh Duhamel
Anthony Hopkins
James Franco
Seth Rogen
Zac Efron
Rose Byrne
Susan Sarandon
J.K. Simmons
Lorene Scafaria
Evan Goldberg
Jamar Neighbors
Argus Hamilton
Kwame Nyerere
Malcolm X
Steve Jobs
Bryan Callen
Dov Davidoff
Bret Ernst
Al Madrigal
Bill Burr
Richard Pryor
Ari Katcher
Lisa Goldberg
Tupac Shakur
Lewis Black
Ellen DeGeneres
Bill Cosby
Chris Rock
Dave Chappelle
Marvin Gaye
Humphrey Bogart
Jay Z
Jerry Seinfeld
Oprah Winfrey
Shay Carl
Groucho Marx
Oscar Wilde
Dr. Seuss

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