Reviewed bySteve PulaskiVote: 9/10/10
Jerrod Carmichael, at twenty-years-old, reminds me of a younger AnthonyJeselnik with his often controversial and off-color sense of humor,minus the arrogance Jeselnik loves to play up on stage. Carmichael ismuch more relaxed, smiley, and amused by his own thoughts, and hisdebut standup comedy special, Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store,plays like a "greatest hits" collection of his stray thoughts that hemay not have had the opportunity to share previously. He doesn't seemto be purposefully offensive, but somebody who is paraded by a barrageof tasteless thoughts that he simultaneously finds funny andcontemplative. With this, he is also a risk-taker for such a young age;how many comedians that young would question if we really care abouttragedies such as the tragic shooting death of Trayvon Martin, commentabout how he remembers September 11, 2001 partly because of theterrorist attacks but also because Jay-Z's album The Blueprint came outthat day, and ponder if a woman was being raped in an alleyway and sawa shooting star, would she use her wish to wish the rape was over orfor the obligatory million dollars?
Such jokes are some of the dozens in Love at the Store, and with thewrong focus and delivery, could've fallen with a loud thud and sendCarmichael home with little sound of laughter and amplified groans andscoffs of disgust. But Carmichael is about as calm and nonchalant as hecould be, considering this is his first comedy special and the firsttime he'll be seen by a broad audience on premium cable. He is humble,quiet, and smooth in his delivery, occasionally sneaking a peak atcrumbled notes in his pocket, adhering to my notion that most of thematerial we are viewing was collected sporadically and due to passingthoughts. Carmichael's demeanor gets him far, and the fact that he's somild-mannered and relaxed makes us forget about the inherentcontroversy of much of things he's saying.
I can compare myself to Carmichael in the regard that I, too, have hadmany thoughts that I want to get out to the public, with some beinghumorous, some being controversial, and others bearing the potential toget me in trouble (and, sadly, have). He attends to the thought that ifDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were still alive today, he'd likely beselling out by doing mattress or insurance commercials, and even stateshow the day the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place wouldbe the worst day of your life if you found out you had herpes that dayso much so that you wouldn't even think about those kindergartnersbeing killed.
Carmichael, as stated, frequents his notes during the performance, andwith the special being filmed at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, aninformal venue by appearance, this sort of practice may not beatypical. On the other hand, I'm not sure if Carmichael's occasionaldisjointed subjects are because of his own personal fault or the faultof the editorial department for a lack of consistency. Nonetheless,there's little to complain about with Love at the Store, as Carmichaeldelivers fifty minutes of strong, original material in a manner that isespecially unconventional given the subject matter. If there was anynotion that nihilism cannot make for a rousing good time and humorousmaterial, I think both Carmichael and Jeselnik have officially squashedthat assertion.
NOTE: Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store will air throughout themonths of October and November 2014 on HBO.
Directed by: Spike Lee.
Taped May 7 at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, the exclusive presentation features Carmichael's unique take on such topics as: poverty, wealth, crime, race, national tragedies, female empowerment and why talent is more important than morals.