“Thank you. Thank you very, very much. I’m not going to talk about it,” actor-comedian Jerrod Carmichael said up top, in his first opening monologue as host of SNL. “I want to be clear up top: I’ve talked about it enough, kept talking about it, kept thinking about it. I don’t want to talk about it, and you can’t make me talk about it.”
While Carmichael seemed at first to be referencing the fact that he’d recently come out as gay in his new HBO comedy special, Rothaniel, it turns out that he was, in fact, more than happy to address that particular situation.
Carmichael said he hopes people will watch the special and referenced coming out, to cheers from the crowd, which he called “an expected response” in New York.
“It’s actually why I live here. If you say you’re gay in New York, you can ride the bus for free and people just give you pizza. Honestly, if you’re gay in New York, you get to host Saturday Night Live,” he joked. “This is the gayest thing you could possibly do. Like, I came out right onto the stage. We’re basically in an Andy Warhol fever dream right now.”
If Carmichael is comfortable speaking about his sexuality, he’s less comfortable speaking about the Oscars debacle which saw Best Actor winner Will Smith slap presenter Chris Rock in the face, after the comic made a joke at the expense of his wife, Jada Pinkett. “I’ve got a question—do you want to talk about it? Aren’t you sick of talking about it? Isn’t it kind of crazy?” said the host, without ever referencing the Oscars outright. “It feels like I’ve been talking about it for so long…Doesn’t it feel like it happened years ago? Like, doesn’t it feel like it happened when we were all in high school?”
Carmichael continued to say that it feels like the incident happened “somewhere between Jamiroquai and 9/11—somewhere a long, long time ago.
“It feels like we’ve been living in the wake of it our entire lives,” he said. “It happened on Sunday! On Sunday!”
Carmichael said that as of this past Monday, talking about the Oscars incident was exciting. “I’m not going to lie. If this were Monday, you wouldn’t be able to get me to shut up about it. I was talking about it all Monday,” he said. “Tuesday, still talking about it—a little less exciting because it stopped being about it by Tuesday. It started being about a lot of proxy arguments [about] hair, and Black men, and white people on Twitter.”
By Wednesday, the host admitted, “I wanted to kill myself.”
While he doesn’t “really remember” Thursday, by Friday, he made a vow to himself that he would “never, ever” speak about the Oscars Slap again.
“Then, Lorne [Michaels] came into my dressing room. He was like, ‘I think you need to talk about it…The nation needs to heal,’” deadpanned Carmichael. “I said, ‘The nation needs to what? And you want me to do that? The nation don’t even know me. The nation has no clue who I am.’”
After staking the claim that he is, in fact, “the least famous” host in the history of SNL, Carmichael decided to speak directly to former President Barack Obama about the Oscars snafu. “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 is joined for tonight’s show by musical guest, Gunna. Watch his opening monologue above.