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Jerrod Carmichael is a stand-up comedian, actor, and filmmaker who is known for his HBO specials and his sitcom The Carmichael Show which ran from 2015 to 2017. However, his most recent special Rothaniel is his most personal and revealing.

In the series, the 34-year-old comedian explains the root of his name and why he kept his sexuality a secret for so long.

Jerrod Carmichael wearing a red jacket and speaking at BuildJerrod Carmichael | Jim Spellman/WireImage

Inside Jerrod Carmichael’s new HBO special ‘Rothaniel’

There has been much said about The Carmichael Show co-creator’s latest HBO special, Rothaniel. But it’s not so much a comedy special as it is a revelation. In the special, Carmichael grapples with his upbringing and family secrets. The special was filmed in February 2022 at New York City’s Blue Note Jazz Club.

Directed by Bo Burnham, the comedian says, “I want to talk about secrets. I felt like I was birthed into them.” The special as is gripping as it is devastating at times, especially as he grapples with his internalized homophobia and the challenges that came when it came out to his family, especially his mother.

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Jerrod Carmichael’s name explained

Though much of the HBO special focuses on Carmichael and his family’s secrets and there is a focus on him coming out as gay, he also explains why he hid his given name, Rothaniel. “One of my last held secrets is my name,” he says. “My name is not Jerrod. Jerrod’s my middle name. I was given that name by my brother Joe. My first name which we don’t talk about, it’s not good. I have always hated that name, no one calls me that except for my mom. My dad named me. He combined his dad’s first name and my mom’s dad’s first name and mushed them together. Not to make some elegant, “William-Edward” or something like that, it’s more like Toyotathon. I hate that name. I’ve hidden that name my whole life. I used to get it removed from the yearbook. Every year in high school I would bribe someone; it cost me $20 dollars to get my first name taken out of it. I never let people see my driver’s license, I had it taken off my bank cars. I’ve always been ashamed of it — always hidden it.”

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What is Jerrod Carmichael’s next project?

Following Rothaniel and Carmichael’s hosting debut on Saturday Night Live, he has several things on the horizon. According to IMDb, the comedian is slated to star in an Untitled Nate Bargatze Project. Details about the film are scarce, but it is set to follow a comedian who moves back to his hometown of Tennesse. In addition to this film, Carmichael is slated to star in The Favourite director Yorgos Lanthimos’ forthcoming film, Poor Things.

Based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel of the same name, the film follows a woman named Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) who drowns herself to escape her abusive husband. Following the incident, Bella’s father Dr. Godwin Baxter (William Dafoe) has her brain replaced with the brain of her unborn child.

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Carmichael is set to portray a character named Harry Astley. Filming for the movie began in August 2021, but there is no word yet on a release date.

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