In his 2019 HBO special, Home Videos, comedian Jerrod Carmichael asks his mother if she has ever done cocaine or had a same sex relationship. When she says no, Carmichael says bluntly, “I’ve hooked up with dudes before.”
It turns out that delving into family secrets while revealing his own was not a one-time thing for Carmichael who, in his newest HBO comedy special Rothaniel, explains the connection. The special, which the New York Times calls “riveting”, debuts tonight at 9 p.m. EST on HBO and is available to stream on HBO Max.
Speaking to the audience the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, where Rothaniel was shot, Carmichael describes learning that his father was unfaithful to his mother for years, and the way that information worked on him.
“After that was out in the open,” he says, “I was left alone feeling like a liar, because I had a secret. One that I kept from my father, my mother, my family, my friends, and you. Professionally, personally. And the secret is that I’m gay.”
Amid applause from the crowd he adds, “I’m accepting the love, I really appreciate the love. My ego wants to rebel against it.”
Later in Rothaniel, he explains: “I rebelled against it my whole life. I thought I’d never, ever come out. At many points I thought I’d rather die than confront the truth of that, to actually say it to people. Because I know it changes some people’s perceptions of me. I can’t control that.”
Carmichael is not only debuting his new special this weekend, he’s also hosting Saturday Night Live.
In 2015 he created The Carmichael Show, which ran for three seasons on NBC. His buzzy directorial debut, On the Count of Three, was sold for about $2 million at Sundance last year to Annapurna Pictures, which is releasing the picture through its distribution pact with MGM’s Orion Pictures through United Artists Releasing.