Comedian Jerrod Carmichael left no doubt about why he hosted the 2023 Golden Globe Awards on Tuesday night in spite of the award show's recent controversies. The Golden Globes' governing body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has been accused of racism and bias, and Carmichael joked about how eager they were to get him onboard. The punchline of that long bit was his paycheck, which he said totaled half a million dollars.
Carmichael deftly summarized the complaints about the HFPA over the last few years, saying that "they didn't have a single Black member until George Floyd died [in 2020]. So do with that information what you will." At the same time, he described his personal experience of being approached by this organization in the midst of its turmoil. He joked: "One minute you're making mint tea at home, the next you're invited to be the Black face of the embattled White organization. Life really comes extra fast, you know?"
Carmichael wove the input of two other Black Americans into his story, though he was self-aware about referencing them as individuals, not as representatives of an entire demographic. First, he described a conversation with Golden Globes producer Stephen Hill, recalling: "I said Stephen, 'I'll be honest with you, I'm a little torn because you know, one, it's a great opportunity. Thank you for the call. But I'm only being asked to host this because I'm Black.' And Stephen said, 'Let me stop you right there. You are being asked to host this show because you are talented. You're being asked to host this show because you're charming – but Stephens' Black, so what does he know?"
After that Carmichael joked: "I did what I do when I have a moral racial dilemma. I call the homegirl Avery, who for the sake of this monologue represents every Black person in America." His friend Avery, apparently not an industry professional, needed a refresher on what the Golden Globes are and what controversies the HFPA has been embroiled in. Once he had filled her in, her question was: "'Well, how much are they paying you?' And I said, 'Well, Avery, it's not about the money. Honestly, it's about the moral question of rather, I should elaborate.'"
Avery disagreed. Carmichael recalled: She said, '...How much are they paying you?' and I said, '$500,000.' And she said, 'Boy, if you don't put on a good suit and take the White people's money.'"
The monologue certainly helped break the tension in the room and proved that the HFPA is willing to look its foibles in the face. Of course, many critics remain wary of the award show at best, and there are other controversies still simmering in the background. For now, it seems like some viewers are prepared to give the show another shot.