The comedian addressed the fact that, in 2022, Cruise returned the Golden Globe trophies he won in the past amid a boycott of the awards’ organisers, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).
The controversy followed an exposé into the lack of diversity within the HFPA, and a separate ethics scandal.
Carmichael returned to the stage midway through the ceremony, and said: “Backstage, I found these three Golden Globe awards that Tom Cruise returned. I think maybe we take these three things and exchange them for the safe return of Shelly Miscavige.”
Miscavige is a member of the Church of Scientology, and is married to its leader David Miscavige. She has not been seen in public since 2007. Cruise is a known Scientologist, and has been a member for 30 years.
Carmichael made the comment just before introducing Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick co-stars Glen Powell and Jay Ellis to the stage, a detail that didn’t go unnoticed by viewers.
Zach Heltzel wrote on Twitter: “Jerrod making a Shelly Miscavige joke before introducing cast members from Top Gun…we love to see it,” while SlateCulture’s Sam Aadams added: “Lol Jerrod making a Shelly Miscavige joke to utter silence before introducing two actors from TOP GUN MAVERICK.”
Meanwhile, @catherinebouris added: “OK Jerrod Carmichael gets kudos from me for mentioning Shelly Miscavige right before introducing two of the Top Gun guys.”
Also during the ceremony, Carmichael made a shocking joke about Whitney Houston’s death, which the singer’s estate has since condemned as “poor taste”.
Elsewhere, Colin Farrell and Michelle Yeoh both refused to be played off stage by the ceremony’s producers while delivering their respective acceptance speeches.
Viewers were also left wondering whether Elvis star Austin Butler’s voice was his own, or whether he was performing his acceptance speech in character as Elvis Presley.