“Early on Jerrod wanted to do it as a multi-cam with a studio audience which I wasn’t sure about,” reveals co-creator Nicholas Stoller as we chat via webcam (watch above) about the origins of NBC’s “The Carmichael Show.” The hit comedy series is a fictionalized version of comedian Jerrod Carmichael’s working class family in North Carolina. As Stoller, who has made a name for himself helming movie comedies such as “Neighbors” and its sequel, explains, “Jerrod showed me the huge advantage of a multi-cam. A whole episode can be two or three scenes and that’s a really cool thing to write.”
Stoller readily admits, “I’m not very good at writing jokes. I’m good at writing characters and describing life in a weird way, but writing jokes isn’t what I’m great at.” But, as he explains, “Jerrod said, ‘That’s exactly why I want to do this with you. Because you are not good at writing multi-cam. You write this natural dialogue.’”
He recalls “most of the shows I grew up with were multi-cam and I loved them. ‘Cheers,’ ‘Murphy Brown,’ ‘Seinfeld,’ ‘Friends.’ But I think it’s changed a lot; the newer ones tend to be just set-up jokes. The old ones don’t have a lot of jokes. They are just funny situations or the characters speaking very honestly in a funny way. That’s what we wanted to harken back to.”
The show also addresses current political and social issues.“We are trying to become America’s living room, to capture the debate going on in everyone’s house, to have honest conversations about topics that everyone’s interested about and tell stories that are culturally relevant.” To that end, he penned an episode that focused on the family arguing about Jerrod’s father (David Alan Grier) deciding to vote for Donald Trump. He admits, “You feel this huge relief from the audience that finally someone is talking about politics. Audiences are always smarter than we give them credit for, they are going to laugh at something that’s smart.”
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