Jerrod Carmichael Regrets Criticizing Dave Chappelle to the Press, Says He’s ‘More Important Than Ever’ and ‘I Want Him to Focus His Genius’ Away From Trans Jokes

Jerrod Carmichael appeared on a recent episode of “The Breakfast Club” (via Rolling Stone) and said: “I deeply regret saying anything about Dave Chappelle to the press. I want to say that I’m sorry for that.” Carmichael previously gave interviews to Esquire and GQ in which he criticized Chappelle’s legacy of making jokes about transgender people. Carmichael now noted that his frustration with Chappelle had only to do with the comedian repeatedly making jokes about the same topic and not the morality of the jokes themselves.

Carmichael called Chappelle “brilliant” and “a bright light in a dying industry,” noting that Chappelle is “more important than ever before” because stand-up comedy is dominated by comedians “just posting clips of them doing crowd work online and calling it art, and it’s not art.”

More from Variety

“Dave Chappelle is an artist — he’s one of the few artists that we have — and I care deeply about the work that he makes,” Carmichael said. “With that said, the criticism that I had, had nothing to do with the morality of the joke, had nothing to do with the ethics of the joke …The criticism I had was that of a fan, someone who respects him so much, that I want him to focus his genius on a wide range of topics. It started really being focused on one thing. I’m a big fan of Jay-Z. If Jay-Z made three albums about trans people, I’d be like, ‘What’s going on with Jay-Z?'”

Asked if he’s spoken to Chappelle, Carmichael answered: “Yeah, I know Dave. And I’ll tell you, honestly, from now on, any thoughts I have for Dave will be directed in a phone call to Dave. I’ll never do it again. I do apologize for that … I don’t want the attention, it’s gone on way too long.”

Carmichael first generated headlines for his thought on Chappelle in June 2022 when he said in a GQ magazine profile: “Chappelle, do you know what comes up when you Google your name, bro? That’s the legacy? Your legacy is a bunch of opinions on trans shit? It’s an odd hill to die on. And it’s like, ‘Hey, bro. Who the fuck are you? Who do you fuck? What do you like to do?’”

“Childish jokes aside, who the fuck are you?” Carmichael added at the time. “It’s just kind of played. But he’s choosing to die on the hill. So, alright, let him.”

In an Esquire interview earlier this month, Carmichael expanded on his thoughts about Chappelle. Carmichael, who came out as gay publicly in his April 2022 HBO special “Rothaniel,” said that Chappelle joked about the set and “referred to it as the bravest special for 1996.”

“And it’s like, that’s a funny enough line, whatever, but I wonder if he gets the irony that the fact that you are mocking it even then is why it was hard,” Carmichael said, adding that Chappelle apparently did not take the criticism about his legacy well.

“He took it as ‘Fuck Dave Chappelle,’ because he’s an egomaniac,” Carmichael continued. “He wanted me to apologize to him publicly or some shit.”

Clarifying his original criticisms, Carmichael told Esquire that Chappelle is “not revealing anything personal about himself and he’s removed from what he’s talking about, and I think he’s smarter than that and deeper than that and has more interesting thoughts.”

Carmichael has been making the press rounds in support of his new HBO documentary series “Jarrod Carmichael Reality Show,” which airs new episodes on Fridays on HBO and Max. Watch Carmichael’s full interview on “The Breakfast Club” in the video below.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.