There are actually quite a few parallels when it comes to adulting and comedy. Both require the harnessing of specialized skillsets in order to achieve their respective missions. While adulting is all about the #levelup, comedy is rooted in bringing light and awareness to diverse audiences through humor. When both the lanes collide, the result is one of epic proportions.
With a little bit of hilarity mixed with truth and real talk, Adulting with powerhouse comedians Michelle Buteau and Jordan Carlos uses the power of comedy as a medium to discuss nitty-gritty subjects such as one-night stand etiquette and the proper price for paying for household items like pillows. Notable celebrities such as actress Vanessa Williams, artist Black Thought and comedian Jaboukie Young-White have graced their show, allowing listeners and admirers to gain deeper insight into who they are off stage.
EBONY caught up with the comedic duo to discuss the return of their show Adulting and how comedy has the means to shift societal conversations.
What has it been like working with one another on this show again after a two year hiatus?
Michelle Buteau: There's nothing better than working with your friends that aren't assholes or untalented because then you don't have to pretend and put up with a lot. I think the podcasting space has really given comedians and other personalities license to just do them, similarly to what YouTube has done for lots of personalities, experts or influencers as well. Oftentimes for me, in doing chemistry tests with someone I don't know, you have to get that chemistry right away in order to sell the project. But what happens if you actually do something with someone who's just as talented, you have 18 years of friendship under that, and 20 years of stage experience? It’s obviously a no brainer for us. It's nice to do something that isn't straight up stand up and in its own way is Chicken Soup for the Soul vibes. People sometimes feel like they always have to search for something else and sometimes your person's right there.
Jordan Carlos: I 100% co-sign everything Michelle just said.
We're having these different conversations about what comedy is and what it is not. I'm curious to know what comedy means to both of you and how it's been a source of solace, a means to thought provoke or simply just an opportunity to laugh.
Buteau: Chris Rock once said, “You can say anything, as long as it's funny.” I think, given the times that we live in and since the President we had in 2016, people feel like, if you're louder and you punch down, that's also considered funny or edgy. I'm always here for a roast. But if you are really funny and if you are a good person, you know the difference. You know when a yo mama joke goes too far. So I feel like just because you were funny last year, doesn't mean that gives you the ability to say whatever you want now. Especially because the more access we have to the internet, jokes can turn into hate speech real quick. There's nothing wrong with taking responsibility and ownership of your choices. If it offends, that's okay but learn, grow and figure out how to say it another way. So if you say you can’t, it's your job as a comedian to figure that out.
Carlos: I also feel there's still irony left in our society. With that, it helps me navigate and get through my day-to-day. Coming together as a community of comedians helps us cathartically. It's wonderful to be able to laugh with your friends, there's just such a release. Everybody knows that laughter is the best medicine and being able to do that almost daily or weekly in this profession is amazing. Connecting with people in this maddening world is super important so that you don't feel isolated. And I don't feel isolated as a comedian.
To those points, comedy is definitely an art form and some folks are beginning to understand and visually see how comedy pushes societal conversations forward, especially in times like these.
Carlos: Well, [comedy] has always been a part of the social discourse. When I think about Dick Gregory or Moms Mabley, these folks were always talking about society and how America isn't living up to its ideals. I love that part of comedy. In addition to that, we as comedians need to do a better job of checking in with each other. In comedy, there's a lot of darkness. You may take that darkness and make it into light, but there's still the darkness.
I like that about our podcast. We actually check in with our comedian friends and see not only how they are outside of the job but also a little bit more into their personal life. I think this is why people come back to our show because they're really getting a different side of these people that they’ve heard of or love their jokes. When we do our live shows, it's the only time where I almost want to be in the audience and enjoy the good time alongside them. We're all just in this organic pow wow, catch-up kiki.
Buteau: It's like the mom that's hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Has anyone asked her if she's eaten yet? You're just serving everybody but has anyone asked if you're okay?
One of the great things about your show Adulting is that it provides a safe space for things that some people may be afraid to ask or think out loud. What is one thing that you both haven’t discussed on the show that you wish came with instructions on navigating in real life?
Buteau: We get some wild questions which is why we have segments that are more like an “asking for a friend” type of situation. But nothing's off-limits—anxiety, depression, having kids, not having kids, all types of relationships, money, the good, the bad, the ugly and the Botoxed.
Carlos: Yes! For me, when you start breaking milestones in marriage, I wish that had come with instructions. I'm almost 15 years married and I don't know what we're supposed to do now besides keep going. I wish there were a few more instructions for that. I also wish there were a few more instructions for the moment you realize that your nine year old is going to be in junior high soon. Think about that! How am I supposed to be there for her as a young child of color and be a good dad and be a good person? I wish there were parent teacher conferences for the parents to check in on how they are doing as a parent. You get a ribbon for this when you're younger and you get gold stars and stickers, but then they just stop giving them out when you become older.