There’s a charm about Neighbors breakout star, Jerrod Carmichael that’s more than just southern. Carmichael has a natural ability to tickle your funny bone by just engaging in eye contact. This innate talent of understanding his environment and “on your toes” comedy comes from what Carmichael describes as “absorbing the day” a quote he uses from Duke Ellington. If that’s the case then he is the “ShamWOW” of absorbers.
Carmichael started his comedic journey in an 8th grade classroom debate where he discovered how much he “enjoyed the rush” from capturing an audience. It was a close friend that gave him an ultimatum at the age of nineteen, to pursue his dreams or lose their friendship. Carmichael should definitely be grateful for friends like that. It was his move to Los Angeles and dedication to nightly standup performances (which he still does) that triggered a series of fortunate events. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina comedian seamlessly transitioned from comedian to actor and fell naturally into his role in Neighbors.
When asked about how he develops his material he responded, ” I try to find an honest thought, and you explore the thought and you find humor in it. Some things are immediately funny and I’m not attracted to things that are immediately funny … I’m attracted to the psychology behind a person’s actions and life transitions … that is where I find humor.” In addition to his truth seeking in the world around him, Carmichael is very intentional in how he communicates, “Language is so important. You want every word you say to be effective and truthful.”
Much like preparing for a standup act, Carmichael practiced his art of “finding truth in the role” and will only do roles “that are honest to [him].” His character in Neighbors, “Garf” is a “gentle soul who is wise beyond his years,” which speaks directly to Carmichael’s character in real life. He is indeed a gentle soul, a doting uncle and a lover of croissants.
When asked about whether or not he was intimidated by the seasoned cast mates like Seth Rogen and Lisa Kudrow, his response: “When you’re a comedian, you have to be confident. You have to walk on stage and own it. So no, I wasn’t intimidated.”
Neighbors is in theaters this Friday, May 9.