Long-time friends Jerrod and Bo sat down to talk about Eighth Grade, the Internet, and staying sane in a culture where everything ages like milk.
Other topics covered include: teenagers today, how to talk about a moment that is already a parody of itself, the FKA Twigs/Anderson .Paak/Spike Jonze Apple ad, whether or not Deadpool gets it, why Jerrod hasn’t seen Bottle Rocket, the filmmaking of Steve McQueen, Jerrod and Bo’s dispositional differences, Snoop Dogg’s new gospel album, Julia Ducournau’s Raw, the performance of an interview, and the value of not being present.
Speaker: Hey, it’s A24. Thanks to everyone who listened to Episode 1. We’ve been reading your emails and appreciate all the feedback. For this episode, you’re going to hear a conversation between two friends and collaborators of ours, who also happen to be longtime friends with each other. They describe themselves as the kind of people who would listen to an A24 podcast, not the people you ask to follow the Barry and Greta episode. But if you’ve ever watched their stand-up specials or television show, you understand why we wanted you to hear this conversation between comedian Jerrod Carmichael and comedian-turned-filmmaker Bo Burnham. Bo’s first film Eighth Grade comes out this summer, and before we recorded their conversation, we invited Jerrod to a screening. The first thing he said was, “What if I hate it? I’m supposed to tell Bo I hate his movie on the A24 podcast?” We said, “Just see the movie, and we’ll figure it out.” And we think we did.
Bo: Hello, twelve kids at NYU Gallatin. Thank you for tuning in.
Jerrod: I'm so glad. They're listening to this, they're getting ready to go out, go to class perhaps. I don't know where to start. I don't want to sound, like, unnatural.
Bo: We should start by saying we're following up Greta and Barry. They were the first episode, we are the second episode.
Bo: So we go from Academy Award nominees to two of Variety's Ten Top Comics to Watch 2011.
Bo: It's like we have fallen off an absolute cliff of prestige.
Jerrod: Oh, dear God. Dear God. We are not prepared.
Bo: Yeah, yeah, we are not. You will not be as fulfilled as you were from that interview. Maybe, hopefully—we're the type of people that would listen to an A24 podcast, right?
Jerrod: Here's the thing. This is the thing that I'm not sure—I don't know how we should sound. Are you like, do you want to be inspired? I don't think we got that.
Bo: I think episode one and three will be for that. Next they'll probably have, who knows, Yorgos Lanthimos and some, you know, but for this, I think, this is for the people. We're of the people. We're friends.
Jerrod: Yeah, we're friends.
Bo: We've known each other for a while. We're in my house, a mansion in the Hollywood Hills.
Jerrod: It is. It’s a very lovely home.
Bo: Can you see the Griffith Observatory?
Jerrod: Oh, it's great. It's great here. It looks like La La Land.
Bo: Yeah, we're not in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills. We are at 845 Sweetzer Avenue. We're not there actually [laughs].
Jerrod: Send somebody straight to your house. Knock on the door. Feel free to say hi.
Bo: Yeah, of course.
Jerrod: We're here, we're at Bo's. This is very exciting to sit down and talk. Where I think we should start is that you have a new film, which I was lucky enough to see recently, that is really, really incredible. Really incredible.
Bo: That's very sweet.
Jerrod: It's like an awesome, complete piece of work. I am jealous in a very real way, like cold-water-in-the-mirror type of way.
Bo: That's nice.
Jerrod: It's like, "Huh, all right." It makes you question yourself.
Bo: The movie comes out in mid-July, I think. It's called Eighth Grade.
Jerrod: About the movie, this was such the opposite direction that anyone would ever expect. What the fuck? Like, it's insane.
Bo: Yeah, yeah.
Jerrod: You know what I mean? Which makes it like, I mean, it's crazy, like a 13-year-old girl is such an insane thing.
Bo: Right, right, yeah.
Jerrod: To focus, and to get right, you know, what I’ve seen [laughs].
Bo: Yeah, well it's like—these are my dogs. That's Mona and Bruce running around, barking upstairs. They're having fun. They're revved up by the quality of conversation. Yeah, I don't know. We talk about this a lot. We have a lot of conversations in this house that are unspeakable. I'm so glad that—I'm sure Alexa could end our careers if she were to spill.
Jerrod: Oh, yeah, yeah. Very easily.
Bo: But yeah, I mean, I've spent a lot of time trying to talk about whatever the Internet or whatever the current moment felt like to me. And my angle into it, which—a lot of comics like angle—was being ironic, and being crazy, and being edgy. And I kind of just reached the end of that and got really, really tired of it. And I felt like, All right. I want to do something new, and I want to do something that's scary to me, and exciting. And it really was the scariest thing to me, was to do something like so, so vulnerable and bare, and uncool, and emotional. It just felt right. It was a thing that was sort of on the edges of my stuff before—
Bo: —but it was all sort of couched in wacky, ironic, crazy stuff, you know?
Jerrod: Can you just go direct?
Bo: Yeah. It felt like, why not? Why not try to—I don't know. It's obviously a really weird moment in the world.
Bo: And we obviously sort of both struggle with—I don't know how you talk, how do you talk about a moment that is already a parody of itself?
Bo: How do you talk about something that is already so silly? How do you make fun of a culture that Old Spice commercials make fun of? The culture GEICO commercials make fun of? It sort of feels like, to me at least, that—
Jerrod: Well, it's such a disruption to art. It's in a really dangerous place, I think, because it's like—
Bo: What is? You mean the culture is, or—
Jerrod: Well, yeah, art. The things we make, I mean like everything from talk shows to movies to everything. Because it's like, I always look at it like a talent show, right? Where you just want to bring a unique, different talent than the next person, and you just—we're all bringing our product to this world’s fair, you want it to be different and unique, and then, you know, people's ability to just kind of echo and reduce themselves to like, sassy. Everybody's kind of just being, like—it's not as creative as I know we can be.
Bo: Well, and the sassiness, right? I mean, sassiness is running the world right now. I'm just saying who is more, sassy might be a weird word but, who is—
Jerrod: But you know what I'm saying? It's almost how it sounds, it's not a new way in.
Bo: For me, it's how do you satirize when the world is insane? How do you poke fun at, I mean, I'm just trying to say Trump without saying Trump. But it’s like, I want to talk about the Internet, obviously, and I feel like the way the Internet's being talked about is sort of on the Internet's terms. People talk about the Internet like, "Oh, man, you go viral” or “Your naked pictures leaked," and then they do a piece about the Internet that's moving at the speed of the Internet trying to deconstruct the Internet. And actually, the antidote to the Internet is actually something more boring and sad and still, I'm not saying—hopefully my movie's not boring but it's, do you know what I'm saying? It's that weird, I don't know, I can't tell the difference between the things and the satire of the thing anymore, so I just felt like that ironic winking game is sort of dead.
Jerrod: Well, because by the time you comment on the Internet, you're already behind.
Bo: Exactly, and the Internet absorbs those comments. The Internet culture is inherently self-referential and ironic.
Jerrod: Creators' fear of the Internet is, I think—really, what it is, is there is an inherent fear, no one wants to trend negatively, you know what I mean? It's that fear, because one, that dictates everything, that dictates the news now. I sound like an 83-year-old man.
Jerrod: But it dictates the news because now, if you watch the news, like 50% of the stories are, "So, on Twitter—"
Bo: Yeah, it's crazy. It's crazy.
Jerrod: And not just talk, I mean, period. Various stories have commentary, like Instagram comments as commentary. And so, you know, it dictates it so everyone's afraid and so everyone—just more specifically, just the creative process, it can be inhibiting to the creative process.
Bo: Totally, totally.
Jerrod: Even the thought of wanting to make everybody happy, because that's what it is, the Internet is everybody and you want to make—
Bo: There's something about the Internet too that makes you feel like, in order to comment on it or just be a part of this culture, you have to take a real hard stance on things and that to not take a stance is to be either weak or cowardly. Especially for me, this seems as hard a time as ever to have a stance on things just because things are changing so rapidly and it's so confusing. And something I really liked about your show, what made your show so great—The Carmichael Show, which was so wonderful—was that for me, the meaning of your show was the sum total of all of the disparate conversations being had by the family, you know what I mean?
Jerrod: Yeah, yeah.
Bo: It's a story about the ecosystem of huge national disagreements and conversations can actually be happening within six people in a family. And that those disagreements that we have—giant political disagreements—if you kind of look at them, can sometimes be boiled down to just you and your brother, and the type of person you are with somebody else.
Jerrod: Yeah, yeah.
Bo: It feels important at this time to, I don't know, at a time when so much of the politics is between, and so much of the culture is between people planting their feet in the ground and saying, "I'm right and you're wrong." Which, of course, that should be happening and there are certain things happening in the culture where that fight needs to be happening. But for art to be, at least in some respect, to, I don't know, acknowledge how confusing everything is and how —I'm at a loss for words now because I've got to the topic of everything being so confusing, I can't articulate it. But I’m saying, you feel like you have an interest in that, I felt like in your work and in your stand-up too, you seem to have an interest in portraying unresolved feelings, or not necessarily having a stance on something.
Jerrod: Yeah, yeah. I like grey areas a lot, and it's that—you have always kind of captured—
Bo: This is just gonna turn into—this is not how we talk to each other, by the way, in our house. We sit and point at each other and we go like, "You're great. You're awesome."
Jerrod: Well, I will say it's not that far away from certain moments. We’ve had certain moments—a lot of times our interaction—
Bo: We just seem like the worst.
Jerrod: Well, a lot of times our interaction is like that scene in Network where they're just wasted outside—like without even drinking, a lot of times, it feels drunken. Just like a really—I don’t know. How do we—all right, I don’t know.
Bo: What do we usually talk about? We usually talk about just people we love and things we love—
Jerrod: What do you love? What do you love right now? What do you love?
Bo: That’s very nice. That’s a nice topic for us. Let’s rank A24 films from worst to best. Okay, ready?
Jerrod: You know what’s crazy? There was a second where I almost started.
Bo: Yeah, I know, I know.
Jerrod: You can’t start and then not finish.
Bo: Yeah, let's all point and start at the worst. What am I liking right now?
Jerrod: Yes, but wait, what are you listening to? I know that’s such a probably "podcast-y" question.
Jerrod: I don’t listen to any—
Bo: We really like that Anderson .Paak new song.
Jerrod: It's really good.
Bo: And that Spike Jonze thing with FKA is so cool.
Jerrod: It’s really beautiful, all practical walls and stuff.
Bo: Yeah, it's really amazing. It’s a little terrifying, though. When I listened to that and I was like, “Oh man this—” There’s two things. “This sounds incredible,” and “It also already sounds like an Apple commercial,” which is a little terrifying. It’s like, “Oh shit, Apple is so—”
Jerrod: Is Apple's finger really on the pulse?
Bo: Yeah, and has been. The fact that I really like this song and this—and it doesn’t seem weird to be in an Apple commercial. I’m like, “Man, you’ve really figured it out.”
Jerrod: I mean, but they picked the right people.
Jerrod: It’s like a lot of times—I mean, who am I to say who’s right or wrong? I usually don’t give that type of disclaimer when talking to you. Who am I to say, "Who’s the right people?" There are clearly wrong people.
Bo: But that's another thing. That’s an interesting thing to ask you. Something that feels so hard to me, in terms of being fresh or being exciting, is that the people running the ad agencies at all these big places, Apple, they are like us. It’s not like it was in the '70s or whatever and you were like—it was films like Taxi Driver then the commercials were like, “Do you have foot fungus?” You know what I mean?
Bo: It isn’t like that. It's like, you put out Moonlight and then Samsung the next year will use the aesthetic of Moonlight to make a commercial that makes you want to cry.
Jerrod: During the Olympics it was insane. It was the most emotional commercials. The commercials were back-to-back, tugging at your heartstrings.
Bo: And really well-made and cool. I’m saying that Spike Jonze, FKA Twigs thing is really, I think, an incredible piece of filmmaking, and it’s an Apple commercial. It’s a little hard to fight the man when the man is what you aspire to be.
Jerrod: I like the thought of us in a sense—sometimes I’m like, “Let’s just bring it back to the '60s and just tell everybody that we’re advertising.” You know what I mean? Just like the real Lucille Ball smoking Philip Morris type of way. It's just owned that this is a thing. What I like about that commercial is that it is just about—it’s clearly an ad, you know what I mean?
Jerrod: It’s not apologizing for being an ad.
Bo: Yeah, of course.
Jerrod: It just feels better than most things.
Bo: Well that's the crazy thing about, like, SNL used to parody commercials, right? With all their funny parody commercials—
Jerrod: Yeah, because it was very robotic and—
Bo: —and then the commercials realized that those were funny, and now commercials feel like SNL parody commercials.
Jerrod: How would you parody a GEICO commercial?
Bo: How would you parody an Axe Body Spray—they’re making fun of the fact that when you put on Axe Body Spray, 20 girls jump on you, and yet people buy Axe Body Spray thinking—it’s so weird. It’s like there’s a real—and it grosses me out deeply, when I feel like—this is going to be hard for me, I shouldn’t say this, but I’m never going to work on anything like this, I’ll never be asked. But like, Deadpool is so deeply troubling to me, because it’s like a billion dollar corporation winking at the audience, and everyone is just totally cool with it. It’s a 200 million dollar movie with a guy being like, “Here is the trailer for my stupid movie, watch it you idiots,” and everyone is like, “Yeah, he gets it.” I’m like, “Does he? Does Deadpool get it?” You know, that makes me look at stuff and go, man, like, irony is—and all that stuff is just toothless.
Jerrod: That is such a victory in the world. Film marketing, they are going crazy—
Bo: Yeah, they did it, man.
Jerrod: —over Deadpool. I can’t wait to see other people also trying to go like, “Yeah, fuck you, you idiots. Come see my movie.”
Bo: It’s a lot of that.
Jerrod: I did enjoy him killing Mario Lopez on the first run though.
Bo: Is that what happens? I didn’t see the movie.
Jerrod: He killed Mario Lopez in one, and I only know this because I like to keep it on the hotel screen. When I check into a hotel I just leave it on the Mario Lopez channel, talking about movies. So I just, I know like the press—
Bo: Oh yeah, I've seen this. I've went to your hotel room but it's always like Extra Tonight, or whatever [laughs].
Jerrod: Yeah, I love that.
Bo: I just assumed that was just happening for no reason, I didn't realize you put it on.
Jerrod: I love infomercials, because it doesn't apologize for what it is. It's just so direct, and people—it's so sad.
Bo: It is sad, man.
Jerrod: It’s very sad. I know we both shared a love of Phantom Thread, we should probably talk about Phantom Thread.
Bo: Oh my God, I get nervous talking about stuff like that.
Bo: I don't know, I'm just saying because I feel, I think we both feel, well, I don't know. You're a deeply put together, confident person.
Bo: I'll talk about Phantom Thread—I can talk about it as just a viewer and everything. I feel so new to the world of film and still feel I'm really violently figuring it out.
Jerrod: We always talk about how a lot of things that are classics, we just watched.
Bo: Yeah, it's like, I saw Casablanca like six months ago.
Jerrod: Yeah, it's just like, "Breakfast at Tiffany's was cool, I guess."
Bo: Yeah exactly, we didn't have that, we didn't grow up watching—
Jerrod: No, no.
Bo: —film. My father watched Con Air on TNT every day for my entire childhood. So much so that he would refer to Steve Buscemi as Rockhound, because that's the character on Con Air. He'd be like, "Oh man, Rockhound's in this." I'm like, "That's Steve Buscemi."
Jerrod: I grew up wherever, in the whatever—but I missed a lot of—
Bo: Wait, that is incredible. What an incredible homage to what brought you to this moment. "I grew up in whatever doing whatever."
Jerrod: I grew up wherever in the whatever. I didn't feel like going into the whole Horatio Alger bullshit.
Bo: I would just love—that is the perfect narrative opening to a film, "I grew up in whatever."
Jerrod: Anyway there's a whole—all types of movies I'm catching up on. I first moved to LA and people were just shocked at things I hadn't seen yet. And I was like, "I'm from the ghetto, of course I haven't seen Bottle Rocket."
Jerrod: Where was I supposed to—where was that going to be advertised to me? Where?
Bo: That was a great one. Yeah, I feel similarly, in the cultural mecca of Gloucester, Massachusetts where I was like, I don't know, I wasn't seeing any of that stuff.
Jerrod: Yeah, I mean, it's funny because it is kind of a thing where I think that is an advantage though, just the fact of—something about the new, even a favorite filmmaker, something about that newness, the not knowing.
Bo: Yeah, totally. Well we said—one of our favorites is Steve McQueen.
Jerrod: McQueen says, "Mess up."
Bo: And what's so incredible about him is, I feel, sometimes movies feel crowded with people that are just making movies. I know that seems silly but it's like, "Oh, they've been fans of movies and they're making movies." And I tend to like—I know Steve McQueen is this visual artist coming into this new medium trying to express these other things in this new thing, rather than just going, "Oh, I want to just make the movies I liked when I was a kid." And all that stuff can be really incredible, and it's probably just defensive of me saying that.
Jerrod: No, but his advice is, "Just go and try stuff." I know it sounds like advice maybe you've heard before, but he's like, "I made so many mistakes." But the mistakes were beneficial in this way that he didn't—he wasn't beholden to some made-up standard of filmmaking.
Bo: Right, right, right.
Jerrod: It’s supposed to have these elements, his writing didn't reflect that. Nothing he did reflected that. You know, so it's like, that's why it's new, I guess. I don't know. What's a movie that I hated?
Bo: Well, we liked Phantom Thread.
Jerrod: I'm trying to think, it'll be probably more fun to talk about something I hate.
Bo: No we can't, we can't do that. I don't think you can do that legally.
Jerrod: Everyone's great.
Bo: Yeah, everyone's incredible.
Jerrod: Everyone's so great.
Bo: Everyone's doing great stuff.
Jerrod: Dear God.
Bo: I'm really happy for everybody. No, I feel great. What about—this could maybe be relevant to people, I have no idea. I feel like we are sort of fundamentally different people in very deep sort of dispositional ways.
Jerrod: Our race, I don't even consider that, like in a true way, there's so many differences.
Bo: I'm not going to talk for this part, you can just say, I'm not—
Jerrod: You don't consider my race, bro?
Bo: You always say that the differences between us—
Jerrod: Yeah, no, race is the—
Bo: —that's the least different thing about—
Jerrod: —the least different thing about us.
Bo: Yeah, I can't say that, but you can say that, have a blast.
Jerrod: You don't think that's—what? What, you think there would be genuine like...because you said that?
Bo: I will sooner riff about The Shape of Water than I will about race, four months before my film comes out.
Bo: But the point is, and it really is sort of what my movie is about, in a way, is that difference. I'm saying I am wired, I'm a neurotic person. I very easily get nervous and worried and stressed. I'm just wired that way. I've always been wired that way. When I was a kid, in school I thought—I would go to the hospital all the time because I thought I had stomach issues. We did all these tests on them and it wasn't until 10 years later I was like, "Oh, I was just nervous." I was just shitting my pants at school everyday because I was fucking so nervous about getting a B+ or whatever.
And you are not that way. I mean, if I can describe you to you right now, you seem, at least to me and to everyone that's ever fallen into your orbit, that you are impervious to stress. I have seen you in very high stress situations not feel stressed to an almost psychopathic degree. And it's interesting. I mean, in many ways I look to you to hope that some of that easiness can rub off on me. You constantly say to me every time I see you, genuinely, it seems you genuinely say, "This is the happiest I've ever been," and you're saying that all the time.
Jerrod: Yeah, no—
Bo: You don't even realize you say it every single time I see you.
Jerrod: Yeah, no, I mean, I'm very, very happy, I don't know, I just—
Bo: For people that I—and I would assume more of the people listening are probably similar to me than you in that respect, what is your advice for stressful people other than just being born the way you are?
Jerrod: I mean, do exactly what you want to do.
Bo: Yeah, I knew this wasn't going to work.
Bo: This is just the way you are.
Jerrod: But that's the thing, just do exactly what you want to do, it's too many people weighing in on what you make and it's just like, ignore that.
Bo: Can you trace why stress just doesn't stick to you? Has it always been that? Can you remember a time being stressed?
Jerrod: I think, you know, probably early on in school for other reasons, getting picked on and that type of stuff, until I wasn't. Until like eighth grade and you just kind of like, I don't know, I just didn't. It's no point. It's not productive.
Jerrod: You know what I mean? Like stress isn't really that productive, because it’s like alright—I guess, look, you can use it to be productive. Even you, you wear anxiety, not in the sense that—you're not just worried, you are figuring out ways to fix things.
Bo: Yeah, but I'm not looking at my stress like, "It's productive so I'll keep it." It's like, it's completely out of my control. If I could snap my fingers and not be stressed, I would totally do that in a second. You would, you have the power, I know, you could become stressed if you felt like it would help you.
Bo: This is a great story about you, this is just so indicative of the complete psychopath you truly are, is we were at dinner once, and we were talking about how you haven't cried in as long as you can remember.
Bo: I was like, "What, you haven't cried at anything?" He was like, "No." And then I'm like, "What if, but for a movie, what if you were acting in a movie, would you cry then?" He was like, "Oh yeah, I could definitely do that." I'm like, "No you couldn't, if you've never cried in your life, you could never cry in a movie." And then he goes, "I'm going to try it." And you sat there and you cried.
Bo: Across the dinner table just because he wanted to, he was able to do the thing that natural life hadn't given to him in twenty years, which is just insane.
Jerrod: But you know what I'm saying. You are a person with a clear vision of what you want to do. Right?
Bo: Maybe, maybe. No, I don't have, you are—oh, man. Is this what this is?
Bo: I'm saying—
Jerrod: I'm sorry.
Bo: No, I'm saying I just don't want to sound like these wacky people. “You're this, no you're this.” I'm being drawn towards it because I am—you know, it's like the formalism of this actually allows me to interrogate you in a way that we never would, because if you ever started talking to me like this or vice versa in real life, I would go, "What the fuck are you doing?"
Jerrod: You would kick me out of your home.
Bo: Yeah, I'd go, "What the fuck are you doing?" But let me just turn this on you just for a second because this is more fun for me. Is it scary? Would you feel—I think something you're personally interested in is just the idea of ambition and wanting to be something, and are you terrified? Is there terror of not capitalizing on any potential you have, is there—what do you feel about—? Do you feel, are you sort of, I don't know, like Kobe-esque? Or like, you know, you can't see failure in front of you even if you tried? Or are you okay with failure in front of you, if you were to find it?
Jerrod: I mean, yeah. I think certain failures are—I know it's inevitable. You'll always have something. It's always intention. I just know that my intention in doing things is to either have a learning experience or to really contribute to whatever it is.
Jerrod: Right? And I just trust that intention. And that's pretty much it. I know that, and that manifests itself through everything. Like who you're around, what you read and all of those things just come from that. Like, it really is. I know that sounds like the bullshit answer, maybe—
Bo: Yeah, Yeah.
Jerrod: But it really is just, it's complete trust in that. I just try to have that, because then it's no—look, I have specific career goals and that type of thing, but more so the goal is to, like— and again, I know this may sound silly or whatever, but the goal is to have an idea and to be able to put that idea out. In whatever form that is, I don't need to be in it or whatever, I just want to be able to get ideas out. That's the goal. So it's not necessarily a number attached to a lot of them, or like a certain criteria, it's just the opportunity—
Jerrod: —to have that.
Jerrod: You know what I mean? And I trust that. Does that make sense?
Bo: I think so. I think so. I've always felt about you specifically that you should be, you could be like Tony Robbins or whatever. You just have sort of innate social skills that play out really well for people in being productive. And I was thinking, I feel like I, in a lot of ways, look to be almost a student of your disposition. And I'm just thinking—just I'm trying to steer this to some way of, how can we be—how can we make this slightly productive for anyone listening, given that we're not incredibly well-established filmmakers in this space? Of like, you know—
Jerrod: Yeah, no, I feel it.
Bo: But the thing is, you were feeling the same way working at Foot Locker. Right? I mean, that's the truth.
Jerrod: Yeah, yeah it was the same thing.
Bo: You were just as ambitious and hungry and looking—and satisfied working at Foot Locker as you are now, as you're, you know, whatever the heck you are.
Jerrod: Yeah, I'm thankful. It's usually like a center of happiness and gratitude and all of that stuff.
Bo: Is it your family? Is it God?
Jerrod: Yeah. God, family, you know, just—I trust that I'll work really hard. I trust that I’ll figure—
Bo: If it all went away, you would be fine, and I know you kind of crave that. I'm not trying to lead you, but—
Jerrod: Yeah, no, I—you're saying I crave—?
Bo: Failing miserably and then having to build yourself back up.
Jerrod: Well it's fun because then you're in survival mode, and you've got to figure stuff out. You know, like I respect that. It's funny because, I mean, you said it, but you also—I feel you could do almost anything well, in a real sense. No, in a real sense. And I'm saying, more so because I do think you are really thoughtful, like genuinely very, very thoughtful and willing to take time and figure a thing out, which is what—like really. I mean, you look at Eighth Grade. Eighth Grade is a product of a thoughtful person, of a very thoughtful director. You know like, someone who actually took time to learn and figure things out. And I do think—do you trust in that? That's what I'm asking. Don't you trust, then, that ability to like—?
Bo: Yeah, I mean I think I have a good dodge for this question that I think is—it is that I think the movie is a little bit about. As we're talking, you probably don't feel this, but as you're talking, I feel a slight little sense of panic listening, being the person listening to this, going, "Who the fuck are these two people talking to each other, rubbing each other's back?" And I think that is slightly what the movie is about. So, I'm saying, I know this sounds like a dodge but like—
Jerrod: No, no.
Bo: —that whatever thoughtfulness is not necessarily just kind, being thoughtful—it's being full of thoughts. Thoughts can be anything, you know? I think there's this increasing sense everyone has of what we're doing now. What we're doing now, performing a conversation with each other—
Bo: —to a bunch of people, trying to act like it's casual, yet it's totally not casual. It's structured and it's not structured. We can talk freely but we also have to be completely aware of who is listening. I do think that has trickled down because of the Internet and social media. Into everyone’s lives. The sort of weird added stress of this conversation is plastered on all interactions now, because of social media making everything public. And that's not good, and not positive, and it's really stressful. And that's sort of slightly what I am trying to attempt to capture.
Both of us really love Jackie, you know, love the film Jackie, and part of the reason is—and I know you are very obsessed with the idea of people being aware of their own narratives—
Jerrod: Yeah, yeah, and crafting—
Bo: —and shaping their own narratives. And that was a thing in the past that was only afforded or required of really famous people, or people in real positions of power, to have to have their own narrative. You know what I'm saying?
Bo: And now, it's everyone doing that. And this movie, partly, is about: What does it feel like to have to feel like you have to tell your own story when you're a 13-year-old kid with really no story that’s as grand as the stakes or the standards that have been set for what a story should be in the real life—in the real world? It's not really an answer to your question, but that is sort of, I guess, what I'm trying to get at. It's the same thing that can make interviews or things a little bit stressful or crazy for me, is the thing I'm trying to talk about. Which is, how do you—
Jerrod: Exist as a real person?
Bo: Yes, exactly, but being seen, though. Being seen. And I think, the sort of experience that was only afforded to celebrities or in my case, D-list comedians. You know, I did stand-up for a long time, and my stand-up was about me being a comedian, and me having an audience, and me being watched, because that was my experience, so I had to be honest about it. And I found that 15-year-old kids felt the same way I did, and that was really weird. I was going, "Why do you understand the idea of having an audience?" But they do, everyone has—
Jerrod: Yeah. People release statements.
Bo: Yeah, exactly.
Jerrod: Like if you look at tweets and posts on whatever, people speak—they craft things. You wake up in the morning and you have to craft the narrative of your experience, has to be—because we think like publicists. We think like we have to speak to the press because you are. You are releasing a statement of your own well-being, of your own existence. You're crafting a statement and—
Bo: Yeah, and it's for an audience of twelve. But it's still the same thing.
Jerrod: Yeah, but it's the same thing. An audience is an audience. People have anxiety to speak in front of, you know, just a table full of people.
Bo: Oh, yeah of course, of course. And like, I think you are someone who is naturally wired where that works. That sort of culture works with your personality. I think you embrace that and you work sort of effortlessly with it. And the story of my movie and sort of me, is sort of feeling like, what does it feel like to be—I know it seems silly because I was a comedian—but to be naturally introverted in a world where you are required to be extroverted. That's what's strange to me. And also, I will say we—I can say we deeply love and care for each other. I'm saying that—
Jerrod: No, we do.
Bo: That's why we're spitting compliments at one another.
Jerrod: That's also why we are—you get the performed version of it—is because it's also to protect. We could easily set each other up to like, say some shit.
Bo: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly.
Jerrod: And because it's like, you've got a movie coming out, I’ll be whatever doing the what's it called. So it's like, all right, let's protect each other for those respective things.
Bo: Yeah, exactly.
Jerrod: And it's hard, because I think, like any true friendship, a lot of it is rooted in—it's not even talking shit, I think it comes across, being analytical—
Bo: Of course, but talking shit, yeah of course.
Jerrod: But the dangerous thing is, I really do think it is you try and figure it out and reconfigure a thing, and you're dissecting. You know what I mean? More than I think is—some of it is just pure, I don't like it—
Bo: Yeah, being assholes.
Jerrod: I do think that it is important—hopefully, I'm hoping every friendship has this, even though publicly we have to do the song and dance sometimes, or people feel the need to. I hope people aren't just saying, “Everything's good and fine and all right, and yeah man,” and whatever it represents politically, confusing that for the art itself. I hope people are going like, "I don't know. What the fuck?" You know what I mean? Like analyzing.
Bo: Yes. Well, it is wild, and we'll probably have to tread lightly here, but obviously, the conversation on Twitter. It makes a lot of sense that in Trump's America, that "us" of the whatever side that maybe isn't that, wants to just completely bind together in the face of this insanity that's sort of above our heads. But it gets a little strange maybe in the artistic community or something where it feels like we all have to be fighting for this or all have to be slightly on the same page with each other. I'm saying, the point is—
Jerrod: In what is clearly a competitive field.
Bo: Creatively, yeah, yeah.
Jerrod: No, and that doesn't have to mean the jealous, angry version of it, but it is a competitive field. And I think the biggest lie and facade that we hold up is this sense of like—and we all know even with streaming, there's only a certain number of outlets for things and we are fighting for it and we're fighting for the attention of everybody, you know? And it's competitive.
Bo: I'm saying, would it have been as cool if you heard Jimi Hendrix being like, "Just listened to—Hey, @TheBeatles. Great new album!"
Jerrod: It feels gross.
Bo: I don't know. It would just be like, ew. I could imagine, and this is—you know what, I would love if there was like a third—I wish there was a 22-year-old kid here that was just getting into the business or something and we could ask her like, what do you think about—what does it look like to you? What does the culture look like to you? What does it feel like to be starting to be creative in this area? Do we sound like old, out of touch guys?
Bo: My basic worry for young people—it's very, very, very hard, I think, for young people that are engaged in the Internet to take the time to put the work in to make something good and substantial, which if you're going to make something substantial, whether it's an hour long comedy special, or a pilot, or whatever it is, part of the artistic process is retreating, disappearing—we talk about this a lot—disappearing, and then coming to the world with a thing. "Look I just spent eight months, a year, two years on this thing. Here it is." And right now, for kids trying to break into the business, or whatever, trying to get attention, the impulse is, “You have an idea, put it out there. Get your Twitter going. Get your Instagram going.”
Jerrod: Yeah. You have a ready outlet. Each day feels like a day that—a missed opportunity.
Bo: Exactly. When like, there's nothing more—in my opinion, the best PR for you is good work that you spent a while making. And I just worry that we'll have sort of the artistic equivalent of like a 24-hour news cycle. Where just everything is fresh and topical and ages like milk. I know you talk about the value, I think, of not being present. Disappearing in this world—
Jerrod: Oh, absolutely.
Bo: —of feeling like people are too in our faces all the time. I don't know. I go crazy at this stuff.
Jerrod: Also, the need to perform should be turned off in any way. Right? Like the need to—you go on stage and you get off stage.
Bo: Yeah, right, right.
Jerrod: An Instagram picture is a performance of sorts.
Bo: Yeah, yeah. The talk show appearances. All these things.
Jerrod: It's just, I don't want to perform a lot. That's why I can't. I'm just not on, because it's the need to—
Bo: Well, it's like if someone Googles Jerrod Carmichael, you want the first three things they see to be the things you spent a lot of time on. Your show or your special, not, "Oh, he was throwing a bag of Skittles at someone's head on some talk show." Or whatever they do on those things. I don't even get it. It's like, "Jerrod Carmichael ate a live bird!" It's like, why do these people want to do this? But it's also—
[Knock at door]
Bo: Oh, that’s something. That's the door. You want to get it, Jerrod?
Jerrod: I’ll grab it.
Bo: Oh my God. What is it?
Jerrod: It's a package, I think.
Bo: Okay. Jerrod's going to sign for this package...Oh, I'm sorry. We're recording something. I'm sorry.
Jerrod: We're recording.
Bo: But we support your cause.
Jerrod: No. I appreciate you. Thank you. Take care.
Bo: That was nice. I was just casually shooting down some probably really well-meaning charity coming to our door.
Jerrod: Was that sent by A24?
Bo: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly.
Jerrod: I don't know what Christian James was about to present. And I do feel—I feel like I'm missing—
Bo: What was it?
Jerrod: I could be missing out on an opportunity. There was just someone in a teal shirt and a bow tie—
Bo: Oh, God.
Jerrod: —that turned around said, "Hi, I'm Christian. Christian James," and then you, and I was—one, I'm a little mad at you because you cut off Christian James right before—we could be missing an opportunity right now.
Bo: I know, I know.
Jerrod: And I don't know what it was. I was excited to hear it, and it was like immediately—
Bo: Well that was a good metaphor, I think, for the differences between us.
Jerrod: Oh, I would have let the whole thing play out.
Bo: Yeah, you would have—
Jerrod: Yeah, there was no version of that where I was ready to go.
Bo: Yeah, you would have set him up with a put pilot or something, knowing you.
Bo: But my feeling, which is creeping me out, tell me if I'm wrong or not, is that people's interest in celebrities—which is just creeping me out a lot—is that it's almost like really famous actors, people are fans of them as people first and then vaguely fans of them as actors. It’s like, “Well, we really like watching, insert really famous person's name here. We really like their funny interviews on the press tour. And then sometimes their movies are kind of cool. But what we really like is their persona.” And that is, to me, like death. That’s really scary.
Jerrod: You're conditioned to do that because we allow access. If you allow that much access, you put out more content probably on IG than you do—if you're posting every day, then that number adds up.
Bo: Yeah, it's more than a movie.
Jerrod: You get accustomed to seeing people.
Bo: Yeah exactly, if you see them—yeah, yeah exactly.
Jerrod: That's it. I don't know. What the fuck do I know?
Bo: I know. Exactly. And that's the thing. We're just—
Bo: —idiots talking shit that'll probably be, either there's a chance—
Jerrod: Ostracized from the industry.
Bo: —or, yeah, we'll either completely fail and then that'll be its thing, or we'll be able to succeed and we'll end up being complete hypocrites.
Jerrod: I'm really excited for that.
Bo: So there's probably no—there's no world in which five years from now we look back on this with any sense of happiness, or just full of regret.
Bo: What did Barry and Greta talk about? They just talked about, like, Sacramento. We probably should've talked about—
Jerrod: We should have just stuck to LA.
Bo: That would have been a lot better. We should do a break for MeUndies and Dollar Shave Club. Those are always on every podcast. MeUndies and Dollar Shave Club is always the ones.
Jerrod: The honest version of this conversation would be just 10 minutes of Dollar Shave Club—
Bo: Of going like, "You really want to shave? You want to put a razor on your face—"
Both: "—for a dollar.” [Laugh]
Jerrod: Come on, dude. I feel good about it.
Bo: I feel generally good about it. Given the task of having to have our—you know what it feels like? It feels like a couple, husband and wife, husband and husband—why not?—that has been married eight years, had a good sex life, and now is forced to have sex on stage in front of a bunch of strangers. And you know, for the first five minutes, you got to find your rhythm a little bit. It's a whole different context for lovemaking.
Jerrod: But always aware. I, at no point, have not been aware of people hearing this.
Bo: And again, it's me finding out that my husband, this entire time, has been picturing an audience watching us.
Jerrod: Yeah, yeah, the whole time. I play crowd noises in the bedroom.
Bo: Exactly. Who do you think—who’s the Greta and who’s the Barry here? That's the real question.
Jerrod: That's a good question. I don't know. I could probably make an argument for either way.
Bo: Yeah, I think you got Greta in you. I feel like Greta, I haven't met her or known her, but I feel like she has a very good disposition. She seems very—has a deep happiness. But you've also got a lot of Barry. You're probably Greta and Barry, and I'm like, I'm the Rodarte sisters.
Bo: I'm both Rodarte sisters. That's what I am. So I think maybe a good way to bring it home would be, talk about something, we hinted at it, but something you recently saw, anything that you really, really loved that inspired you.
Jerrod: Snoop Dogg has a gospel album.
Bo: Oh, boy.
Jerrod: You know, that's kind of been, I don't know. It's insane. My Uber driver liked it.
Bo: That's great.
Jerrod: What about you?
Bo: I keep thinking about that movie Raw. Did you see Raw?
Jerrod: Oh, Raw was incredible. Raw was such a—
Bo: Yeah, Julia Ducournau, she's a French filmmaker, it was her first movie.
Jerrod: Which is insane. Which is really, really insane.
Bo: Which is crazy. And that's the thing.
Jerrod: Raw was beautiful.
Bo: I think a fun thing for us is that we have—because we're both very interested in film and want to get into the film world and do it, and like—
Jerrod: She was Geppetto. You know what I mean? Like controlling—there were moments where the audience, everyone kind of held themselves, or had to like, look away. It was phenomenal.
Bo: And that feels like an ability that you can only get after multiple films, to be able to be so in control of the audience and tone and what they're feeling. But yeah, that really inspired me. What's nice about being able to be lucky to be in this world is that it's really terrifying. People intimidate the shit out of me. And we both know the Safdie's who are around our age or a little older and are terrifyingly talented.
Jerrod: Yeah, Josh and Benny are amazing.
Bo: I feel like, I'll speak for myself, I feel like I’m slightly faking it 'til I make it, and hopefully we'll make it soon but we'll fake it until—
Jerrod: Just really guessing. No, but you made an incredible film, for whatever that's worth, you piece of shit.
Bo: Yeah, exactly. Just 45 minutes of figuring out how to take a compliment.
Jerrod: Yeah, goddammit. Stop fighting this. It was a lot of fighting.
Bo: In conclusion, I love you—
Jerrod: Shut up.
Bo: —and I appreciate you being here. And now let's turn this thing off and talk about what we just did for an hour and a half. Hereditary will be in theaters June 6th, and is incredible.
Jerrod: [Laughs] I’m excited to see Hereditary.
Bo: It is incredible. It might not be June 6th, but that is incredible. A24 is the best and works—they have really cool sweatshirts, and we're excited to be a part of the family.
Jerrod: What are we doing? What are you doing?
Bo: I have no idea what I'm doing. MeUndies. We're out.
Speaker: Thanks for listening. Look out for Episode 3 next month, and keep sending your thoughts and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. The A24 podcast is produced by us, A24. A special thanks to Doug and Aaron at Robot Repair, who composed our theme.