Jerrod Carmichael quipped that he wasn’t going to talk about “it.” While the “it” seemed like he was referencing coming out as gay in his new HBO comedy special, Rothaniel, “it” was actually Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars on March 27.
Though he never directly mentioned Smith, Rock or the word “slap,” most of his opening monologue was focused on the event that dominated the cultural conversation the past week. “I’m not gonna talk about it,” he said. “I’ve talked about it enough. Kept talking about it. Kept thinking about it. I don’t wanna talk about it. You can’t make me talk about it.”
The comedian wondered aloud how the event could have possibly happened within the past week. “Six days. This happened a week ago. Doesn’t this feel like it happened years ago?” Carmichael said. While he quipped that at the beginning of the week it was exciting, he said: “By Wednesday, I wanted to kill myself.”
While Carmichael revealed that he initially decided he wouldn’t tackle the topic, SNL boss Lorne Michaels asked him to address the subject in order to “heal the nation.” He then directed his monologue at former president Barack Obama asking for his help surrounding the Smith slap conversation.
“Hey B, what’s going on man? You don’t know me; I’m Jerrod. Nice to meet you,” he said. “You got us all hopped up on hope and change, and unfortunately, I have some news for you, Barack. You’re not going to like this. We need you back because I think you’re going to have to talk about it. The nation needs to heal.”
Carmichael did later address coming out in his monologue, joking that hosting Saturday Night Live is “the gayest thing you could possibly do.” He added, “Like, I came out right onto the stage. We’re basically in an Andy Warhol fever dream right now.”
Rothaniel, which was directed by Bo Burnham, was released on Friday.