Jordan Carlos on Why ‘Adulting’ is Especially Needed for 40-Year-Olds

As the HBO’s Divorce writer explores on his podcast, “Adulting” is as much about keeping your shit together as getting it together.

Jordan Carlos, more recently known for appearing on Black Mirror, managed to pull off being a 41-year-old married New York comic with a house. So why did he feel the need to start a podcast called “Adulting”?

“I’m just trying to figure out the maintaining of it all,” Carlos tells SF Weekly ahead of his Bay Area appearances at Pop-Up Magazine on Friday and Saturday. “You see people in their 50s and everything is just a smoking ruin. I’m just trying not to blow it.”

And who can’t relate? In May, Carlos launched the WYNC show with fellow comic Michelle Buteau, who San Franciscans may remember as Wrenita in Netflix’s Tales of the City. The podcast has covered a fair amount of ground since then, from parsing Venmo etiquette and ending toxic friendships to wondering if real adults are allowed to cry on the subway or if having turtles is too much responsibility. (I’ll spare you all the tragicomedy with a resounding “Yes!”) 

Oftentimes, people ask about dating and paying the bills, which makes Carlos feel like a “low-budget Suze Orman” or TED talk, answered with comics like Samantha Bee, Michael Ian Black, and Sasheer Zamata. They even get requests about STIs, in which case they advise visiting a clinic ASAP. “If we’re the court of last resort, you’re in serious trouble,” Carlos says.

“Adulting” is the natural following to his other gig, writing HBO’s Divorce with Sarah Jessica Parker, which follows, well, a messy divorce. Carlos also wrote for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, was a cast member on MTV’s Guy Code, and has played President Barack Obama on CollegeHumor Originals, and a black Scientologist on The Eric Andre Show. He credits getting noticed with his role as Stephen Colbert’s one black friend Alan on The Colbert Report to lend the character credibility when discussing race. He went from feeling like being black had to be his shtick as a comic to finding more of a voice with the help of Wilmore.

“I’m much more confident in what I’m saying,” Carlos says. “And I feel good about it.”

These days, he likes getting people with NPR tote bags to laugh at themselves and the bougie things they do to feel interesting. After all, is an overly-fancy Brooklyn restaurant named after New York’s 19th-century park designer supposed to be this exciting?

His upcoming Pop-Up Magazine appearance in San Francisco and Oakland, where the live magazine show debuts its “Escape” issue, may not hit those points but it does involve something the privileged may know more about: bizarre travel stories, sans Jerry Seinfeld exasperation.

From a meal interrupted by tear gas set off during France’s Yellow Jacket protests to being smacked with a cane after unintentionally insulting a Portuguese man’s language skills, Carlos feels like he has bad luck while on vacation. 

“I don’t know what it is,” Carlos says. “I’m just a magnet for them.”

That’s not necessarily a complaint — and neither is being asked to join projects like Guy Code at a pool party in Beverly Hills. After all, that paid his rent for three years.

“Things that I got, I got because I was in a positive mindset and open to the possibility,” Carlos says. “When you believe in your talents, you believe your talents will take you where you want to go…I really do sound like a TED talk.”


Pop-Up Magazine, Friday, Sept. 20, 7:30 p.m., at the Sydney Goldstein Theater, sold out; and Saturday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m., at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, $38-$42,

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