Comedian Jordan Carlos is fascinated with animals having, um, relations. He often does a bit onstage where he talks about watching a nature documentary and being intrigued at how humpback whales get together.
Apparently, riffing on animal sex is something the Dallas-born, New York-based Carlos is starting to get a rep for. He even named his stand-up tour The Whale Sex Tour, which will make a stop in Durham Saturday night at Motorco Music Hall.
“I love animal science. I love animals. I love nature,” says Carlos, 39, calling from Indianapolis.
So it wasn’t a surprise to see Carlos recently hosting a show about sharks on Snapchat, to coincide with Shark Week, the Discovery Channel’s yearly tidal wave of all-shark programming.
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“I was like, ‘Man, I watch Shark Week anyway, so let me get in on this,’ ” he says. “I’ve given so much money to cable, just to watch everything about sharks. I was like, ‘Let me make some money on my own. Let me make some money off of Shark Week.’ ”
So, did his love of whale love help him land the gig? “They had no idea how much I know about animal sex – but, now, they do,” he says.
You may have seen Carlos less on your phone and more on late-night television. He got his big break appearing as Stephen Colbert’s only black friend on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” He occasionally popped up in a photo with Colbert, who has a huge smile and points at Carlos, who is just mean-mugging.
“It was just one snapshot one day,” he remembers. “I wasn’t looking the right way, and it became much bigger than I thought it would be.”
After Colbert moved to his own CBS late-night talk show, Carlos ended up back at his former Comedy Central time slot as a regular on the now-canceled “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.” The former “Daily Show” correspondent caught Carlos doing a killer stand-up set and snapped him up as a writer and on-air contributor.
“Larry taught me a lot about writing – a lot about, you know, not making things too precious, basically chopping things down to its essence,” he says. “For two seasons, I learned a heckuva lot.”
Writing for a late-night comedy show has always been a dream for Carlos, he said, but it can be tough to break through. He adds that it can be even more difficult when you’re black.
“Writing jobs for anybody are hard to come by, moreso for African-Americans,” he says. “What usually happens is you’re the last to be hired and they have to choose between African-American candidates. They don’t just openly, you know, take candidates. It’s like they hire everybody, then they realize that, in order to stay on the up-and-up, they have to take an African-American candidate. It’s this bottleneck situation, where you have to be the best of the African-Americans, not the best of the writers.”
Nevertheless, Carlos has been getting more writing jobs thanks to his “Nightly” time. He wrote jokes for the “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” special episode “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” as well as a TBS pilot hosted by comedian, author and former “Daily” producer Baratunde Thurston. He’s also developing a pilot of his own, a scripted comedy for – the place where it all began – Comedy Central.
But he’ll always have time for stand-up. “It seems to bring people together and forget their worries for a minute,” he said. “Just what I like to do at the comedy club.”
Who: Jordan Carlos, with Matt White
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19
Where: Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham
Cost: $11 or $13 at the door
Details: 919-901-0875; motorcomusic.com