Jerrod Carmichael – Uber-Productivity and Dangerous Comedy (#222)


“Everyone’s looking for rules to follow, and the sooner you realize there aren’t any, the better art can be.”

– Jerrod Carmichael

Jerrod Carmichael is pushing the boundaries of comedy with his groundbreaking work in stand-up, television, and film. Now just 29 years old, what this driven North Carolina native has accomplished is mind-boggling, and 2017 is going to be his biggest year yet.

Jerrod stars in the hit NBC series The Carmichael Show, which he also writes and executive produces. The third season of the show premieres in 2017. In March of 2017, Jerrod will star in his second stand-up comedy special on HBO, directed by Bo Burnham. He made his debut on HBO in 2014 with his critically acclaimed one-hour special, Love at the Store, directed by Spike Lee.

Love at the Store is the funniest standup special I’ve seen in many years, and it’s the reason I reached out to Jerrod. It left me in hysterics on a transatlantic flight and terrified everyone. I couldn’t stop laughing out loud. It’s that good.

On the big screen this June, Jerrod joins the cast of Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight, opposite Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, and Anthony Hopkins. He’ll also appear in James Franco’s The Masterpiece (originally titled The Disaster Artist), set to be released in 2017.

In the summer of 2016, Jerrod reprised his role as ‘Garf’ in the Universal comedy sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising opposite Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. He also starred as ‘Freddy’ opposite Rose Byrne, Susan Sarandon, and J.K. Simmons in Lorene Scafaria’s The Meddler, which was released in April of 2016.

Jerrod recently announced his upcoming authorial debut with an as-yet-untitled memoir. The novel will be published by Random House.

Please enjoy my wide-ranging conversation with Jerrod Carmichael!

#222: Jerrod Carmichael - Uber-Productivity and Dangerous Comedy

Want to hear another episode with a standup comedian? — Listen to Whitney Cummings on the podcast. In this episode, we discuss emotional intelligence, how to overcome workaholic tendencies, managing instant gratification and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

#84: How to Turn Pain Into Creativity (Whitney Cummings)

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. I have used them for years to create some amazing designs. When your business needs a logo, website design, business card, or anything you can imagine, check out 99Designs.

I used them to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body, and I’ve also had them help with display advertising and illustrations. If you want a more personalized approach, I recommend their 1-on-1 service, which is non-spec. You get original designs from designers around the world. The best part? You provide your feedback, and then you end up with a product that you’re happy with or your money back. Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run…

This podcast is also brought to you by Wealthfront. Wealthfront is a massively disruptive (in a good way) set-it-and-forget-it investing service, led by technologists from places like Apple and world-famous investors. It has exploded in popularity in the last two years and now has more than $5 billion under management. In fact, some of my good investor friends in Silicon Valley have millions of their own money in Wealthfront. Why? Because you can get services previously limited to the ultra-wealthy and only pay pennies on the dollar for them, and it’s all through smarter software instead of retail locations and bloated sales teams.

Check out, take their risk assessment quiz, which only takes 2-5 minutes, and they’ll show you — for free — exactly the portfolio they’d put you in. If you want to just take their advice and do it yourself, you can. Or, as I would, you can set it and forget it. Well worth a few minutes:

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • My introduction to Jerrod and his work. [07:08]
  • We swap Evan Goldberg stories. [10:23]
  • First memory of being funny. [12:35]
  • On childhood freedom, family, and growing up in North Carolina. [16:12]
  • What drove Jerrod to move to Los Angeles and pursue comedy as a career? [18:36]
  • If comedy doesn’t work out, Jerrod can always go back to his last profession: selling shoes. [23:15]
  • Jerrod’s daily habits — and why he calls his mom first thing every morning. [24:21]
  • Jerrod’s first time on stage as a comedian. [30:41]
  • Advice Jerrod would give to a novice comic whose set just bombed. [31:38]
  • Why Jerrod was so persistent about taping his first special at The Comedy Store. [33:12]
  • Bryan Callen and Dov Davidoff bought Jerrod his first car in L.A. [34:38]
  • The benefits of being a creature of habit. [36:42]
  • Work music. [37:48]
  • Best decisions of Jerrod’s early career and having supportive friends who understand the importance of work. [38:25]
  • Where did Jerrod’s deep work ethic originate? [41:57]
  • Jerrod’s first time at “a proper dance party.” [43:19]
  • Common mistakes Jerrod sees novice comedians make. [44:30]
  • Three comedians Jerrod would combine into one super-comedian. [45:19]
  • What separates a good comedian from a great comedian? [47:30]
  • How does Jerrod’s onstage persona differ from his real-life persona? [49:26]
  • On achieving a state of “zero fear” before performing. [51:05]
  • Has Jerrod gone through any periods of self-doubt? [52:10]
  • Overcoming writer’s block. [53:06]
  • Books Jerrod likes. [55:36]
  • Advice to anyone who’s still trying to discover who they are. [57:42]
  • Who comes to mind when Jerrod hears the word “successful?” [1:00:24]
  • On the joy of sharing and the wisdom of cliches. [1:01:16]
  • If Jerrod were to give a TED Talk about something for which he’s not known, what would the topic be? [1:05:23]
  • Bad advice Jerrod hears frequently. [1:08:05]
  • Favorite failures? [1:09:42]
  • Establishing a unique style without getting pigeonholed. [1:11:49]
  • Did Jerrod have a plan B in case comedy didn’t work out? [1:14:41]
  • What might Jerrod do if he ever decided to take a break from comedy? [1:16:11]
  • What would Jerrod’s billboard message say? [1:17:14]
  • Unusual practices in the creative process. [1:20:44]
  • Recent purchase of $100 or less that had a positive impact. [1:22:47]
  • On thoughts and goals worth writing down. [1:23:38]
  • Parting thoughts and Jon & Vinny’s bolognese. [1:26:10]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

25 Replies to “Jerrod Carmichael – Uber-Productivity and Dangerous Comedy (#222)”

    1. reference to earlier in the podcast when Jerrod said he sees people (everyone he meets) as a person staring down at him from the top of the well in which he is stuck in. Therefore anyone you encounter is seen as a refreshing and useful person to you. It’s a frame of mind more than a reality. A way to see the good in people and to engage with people socially.

  1. Nice interview, reminds me of N. N. Taleb’s “If I had to relive my life I would be even more stubborn and uncompromising than I have been.”

  2. My favorite quote was, “People don’t know how free they are”.

    And it was just a throwaway comment from Jarrod. Brilliant.

    Thanks Tim. Great episode.

  3. Wasn’t sure in which interview you mentioned it (I think you actually recommended it on multiple posts recently…?), but I wanted to get back and thank you for the recommendation of The Baron in the Trees. Loved it!!

    Looking forward to listening to this latest interview with Jerrod in the next couple days 🙂

  4. I loved Jerrod’s thoughts on what new comedians do wrong. Something along the lines of, “they focus on the wrong things.” True that many of us, myself included, focus on our websites and images rather than our actual work. Thanks as always for putting this together.

  5. Jerrod is a fine comedian and a great guy. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and a few of his other ‘Neighbors’ cast mates including Dave Franco when I was the Arts Editor at the University of AZ paper.

    Really enjoyed the podcast, another stellar guest…

  6. I’m an hour and 12 minutes in. So far, this podcast is pretty useless.

    Certainly not about “uber-productivity,” and only touches on productivity a bit. Moreover, I went to Youtube and looked him up,

    and his performance was dull and not funny to me. Didn’t laugh once.

    Was Tim Ferriss in a weird mood when he saw the show?

    I had to play it at 1.25x playback speed in Youtube to make it watchable.

    1. I can definitely see that point of view though I disagree. I’ve learned appreciate this type of interview as a form of real life mentorship practice. Very rarely in the real world will you get to speak with people who have practiced crafting soundbites and/or talking points ala a Robbins or the multitude of other guests who have done dozens of podcast and other interviews. Real life learning is more like this interview, with people sharing stories and quirks and you having to sift the gold dust from the dirt (not that any of the content was bad). You aren’t always going to get massive nuggets of life altering, novel strategies.

  7. This was great! We immediately listened to Love at the store after hearing this and it was awesome.

    I really liked your question: “if you could give people one action step…” please continue asking that to your guests.

    What an interesting dude and so much more inspiring than I would have thought.

    Thank you for this Jerrod and Tim!

  8. Could you please also add link to the transcripts of your podcast. Many of us do better reading than listening to a long podcast.

  9. Two big things stuck out to me.

    1. I like the mention of the power of common sense advice. Your boy Seneca wrote about it “On the Value of Advice” Letter 94, Moral Letters to Lucilius:

    “‘What good does it do to point out the obvious?’ A great deal of good; for we sometimes know facts without paying attention to them. Advice is not teaching; it merely engages the attention and rouses us, and concentrates the memory, and keeps it from losing grip. We miss much that is set before our very eyes. Advice is, in fact, a sort of exhortation.The mind often tries not to notice even that which lies before our eyes; we must therefore force upon it the knowledge of things that are perfectly well known.

    As Sivers famously put it “If information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

    2. I liked his comment about the importance of honesty and being true to yourself. It parallels with Chris Sacca’s advice that being your unique, authentic self is more powerful and popular than trying to be all things to all people. For some reason, it clicked with me that there is a way to be yourself/authentic but do it in an socially intelligent, deliberate way. I’ve become a lot more true to myself but am realizing that I’m not doing it in an intelligent way.

  10. Tim! I love what you do. I can’t wait to listen to Jerrod’s episode on my way to work today. If i may, I would like to make a suggestion for a future guest. His name is Robert Lanza, and he has put forth a new theory of the “Universe”, among many other remarkable contributions. I really think you would have a blast getting to know him. I hope this makes it to you Tim! Keep up the great work.

  11. I really loved listening to Jerrod. What wisdom, clarity, evenness and realness from someone so young! I could have listened for a lot longer than the length of the podcast There’s something really special about him…

  12. A lesson in simple focus and hard work. With the unique bonus recommendation of sliding the off button on all social media!

  13. The biggest takeaway for me was to figure out who you are, find your voice and be confident with that no matter what. He can be himself with dark comedy, other people can be themselves with being nerdy or gaming, others can be themselves being outspoken like Gary Vee.

    I’m in the process of doing my personal branding after my agency has had a tonne of success and I always look to idols for inspiration like Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, Neil Patel, Gary Vee etc to see how they write since I connect so much with them. But, if I do their style or writing or talking, it completely stifles my voice and the content comes out weak. So I’m working hard doing an insane number of blogs posts of all style to really cement myself and my voice.

    What’s your voice?

  14. Eric Butterworth’s work is FANTASTIC! I love _Discover the Power Within You_. I’m so thrilled to hear this book recommended on Tim’s show! And, as an North Carolinian, I’m always tickled to hear someone else from my home state. 🙂

  15. I was listening to this and the conversation about Jarrod calling his mom reminded me that I needed to text my mom and check in. As I was writing… “How are you feeling? Still dehydrated?”…at the same exact moment Jarrod mentioned his mom is always dehydrated! Lol Very weird timing!

  16. Hi Tim,

    I was hoping to get this over to you when it was published but I just got back into town and settled, a day late.

    First, thanks for all the tools and insights you’ve provided through your podcast, Im hooked.

    Im reaching out to send over an article I wrote for Fstoppers titled “Regaining Your Creativity”, with a shout out to you and your buddy Chase Jarvis. I lost my dad over the summer and found myself in a very unhealthy place before implementing some of the practices and routines you’ve mentioned on your podcast. Thought you may want to give it a read as you’ve had a very direct effect on my latest successes (including becoming an Fstoppers Staff Writer).

    [Moderator: link removed.]


    Sean Horton