e's known to the under-30 set chiefly for his work in kid-friendly fare, but once upon a time, Eddie Murphy was one of the most shockingly filthy comics in America – and one of the funniest, too, helping to restore some luster to the stand-up album and comedy concert movie during a time when predecessors such as Richard Pryor and Steve Martin had largely abandoned them for feature films.
Born in 1961, Murphy spent his early years in Roosevelt, with his brother Charles (who would later go on to earn his own measure of fame as a member of the cast of the "Chappelle's Show"), his mother Lillian and his stepfather Vernon, both of whom were memorialized in Eddie's iconic early routines. (Lillian was the no-nonsense-taking matriarch who had radar-like hearing and could turn a high heel shoe into a boomerang; Vernon was the hard-drinking dad who woke up Saturday morning unable to remember the kids beating him up and taking his paycheck.) It wasn't a life of abject poverty, but it wasn't the most comfortable existence, which probably had something to do with why Eddie was performing his own routines as a teenager. (Genetics also likely played a part – Eddie's biological father, Charles, was an amateur comedian himself.)
At the ripe old age of 19, Murphy wheedled his way into the cast of "Saturday Night Live," making such an impression that he managed to survive the brutal housecleaning that saw nearly every other member of the show's 1980 cast fired. During the remainder of his tenure on the show, Murphy proved one of "SNL's" biggest assets, giving life to such classic characters as James Brown ("should I get in the hot tub?"), Buckwheat ("nookin' pa nub"), the inner-city Mr. Rogers known as Mr. Robinson ("I'm so glad the bitch is gone"), and – of course – Gumby ("I'm Gumby, dammit!").
While all this was going on, Murphy made a quick turn into movies, breaking the barrier between TV and big-screen stardom with uncommon ease. Unlike a lot of television stars, who struggle for years to find the right project, Murphy knocked home runs out of the park with his first three films: 1982's "48 Hrs.," 1983's "Trading Places," and 1984's "Beverly Hills Cop. All are ‘80s classics, and rank with Murphy's finest work, more than 25 years later. Also during this period, Murphy released his immortal HBO concert film, 1983's "Delirious," lines from which are still quoted to this day (and, indeed, are plentiful within the "Famous Last Words" section below.)
Let us pause for a moment, then, and focus on Murphy's abilities as a stand-up.
Of the inductees into Bullz-Eye's Stand-Up Hall of Fame, Murphy managed to make the most impact with the least amount of work as a stand-up. He was doing stand-up prior to badgering his way onto "SNL," but once he transitioned into film, the number of Murphy's live performances dropped off to virtually nil. Still, his routines on his self-titled debut (1982) and the follow-up (1983's Comedian) still remain classic comedy, though few would suggest that his bits about "faggots" are anything even remotely resembling politically correct. So strong was this material that, in 1997, Murphy's label – Columbia – dared to put together an album called Greatest Comedy Hits; though the idea of putting together a best-of set for someone with only a pair of albums to his name is laughable, Columbia did come through with seven previously-unreleased tracks from the era (including a particularly classic bit about a conversation with Little Richard), along with a few moments from his 1987 stand-up film, "Raw."
Having reached the top (and by "top," we mean that not only had he conquered television, movies, and stand-up, but he had also even managed to score a Top Five hit as a singer with 1985's Party all the Time," produced and written by Rick James), Murphy had nowhere to go but down – and that's exactly where he went. The bloom started fading from Murphy's film career in the late ‘80s – although he initially appeared to have a sort of commercial immunity, scoring hits with critically derided big-budget projects like "The Golden Child," "Beverly Hills Cop II," and "Another 48 Hrs." Even the aforementioned "Raw" proved disappointing, offering less laughs than "Delirious" but more uses of the word "fuck" than any other film released during the 1980s. (And, yes, that includes "Scarface.") Murphy eventually acquired enough clout to make his movies without studio interference, meaning that when a project like 1989's "Harlem Nights" tanked, nobody else deserved to take the blame.
"Harlem Nights" kicked off a prolonged drought for Murphy. Although 1992's "Boomerang" made money, the early-to-mid ‘90s also saw him releasing duds like "The Distinguished Gentleman," "Vampire in Brooklyn," and "Beverly Hills Cop III." It wasn't until he starred in a "Nutty Professor" remake for Disney that Murphy started to regain some of his box office mojo – but even then, his hits ("Dr. Dolittle," "Mulan," "Shrek") were outnumbered by his flops ("Metro," "Holy Man," "Life," "Showtime," "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"). Sadly, Murphy doesn't seem interested in returning to the biting, side-splitting funny form of his early years – and he surely has enough money in the bank that he doesn't need to worry about how many tickets his movies sell. Frustratingly, he's still able to show flashes of that old talent – he scored a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for his work in 2006's "Dreamgirls" – but as last year's "Meet Dave" proved, that's the exception now, not the rule. Still, you can't take away his spectacular early work, most of which still resonates today.
Unlike most other members of the Stand-Up Hall of Fame, Murphy has released very few comedy albums (unless you count unintentional comedy, in which case musical efforts such as 1993's Love's Alright are pure gold). What his discography lacks in quantity, though, it makes up in quality – his two stand-up albums are chock full of goodness, and include some of the routines that went on to infamy in "Delirious."
Eddie Murphy (1982)
"Saturday Night Live" (1980-84)
"Eddie Murphy: The Life and Times of a Comic on the Edge" (1997)
"Growing Up Laughing with Eddie Murphy" (2003)
"48 Hrs." (1982)
"Trading Places" (1983)
"Eddie Murphy Delirious" (1983)
"Best Defense" (1984)
"Beverly Hills Cop" (1984)
"The Golden Child" (1986)
"Beverly Hills Cop II" (1987)
"Eddie Murphy Raw" (1987)
"Coming to America" (1988)
"Harlem Nights" (1989)
"Another 48 Hrs." (1990)
"The Distinguished Gentleman" (1992)
"Beverly Hills Cop III" (1994)
"Vampire in Brooklyn" (1995)
"The Nutty Professor" (1996)
"Dr. Dolittle" (1998)
"Holy Man" (1998)
"Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" (2000)
"Dr. Dolittle 2" (2001)
"The Adventures of Pluto Nash" (2002)
"I Spy" (2002)
"Daddy Day Care" (2003)
"The Haunted Mansion" (2003)
"Shrek 2" (2004)
"Shrek the Third" (2007)
"Meet Dave" (2008)
Does anyone have a mother that would hit you with a shoe? I had a mother that would throw a shoe at you at the drop of a dime. And fuck you up wherever she was aiming. So by the time I was like 10, my mother was like Clint Eastwood with a shoe.
Brothers act like they couldn't have been slaves back 200 years ago. It's like the motherfuckers LIKED that shit. 'I wish I was a slave, I would fuck somebody up! Shit, tell ME to bale some motherfucking cotton! I would been on the street and shit, would've come up and say, 'Ay, yo, nigger, bale this cotton!' I would say, 'Suck my DICK, massa!'
There's something about the ice cream truck that makes kids lose it. And they can hear that shit from 10 blocks away. They don't hear their mothers calling but they hear that motherfucking ice cream truck. But the ice cream man always drove extra blocks away. And I know he's seen us and shit, but I think he just be in the car with his friends and say, 'Watch how fast I make these motherfuckers run.'
White people can't dance. I'm not being racist; it's true. Just like when white people say black people have big lips, it's not racist it's true. Black people have big lips, white people can't dance. Some brothers will be in the club and white people are like, 'What are those niggers doing in here?' They watchin' y'all dance. And they're like, 'Look at these crazy muthafuckas.' Y'all be stepping on people's feet and hitting one another.
I have nightmares about gay people. I have this nightmare that I go to Hollywood, and find out Mr. T is a faggot. Really. And he'd be walking up to people going, 'Hey boy, hey boy! Ya look mighty cute in them jeans. Now come on over here... and fuck me up the ass! C'mon. I'm gonna bend over now. Grrr! Aaahh! Hey, boy, slow down, you're gonna mess around and come too fast. You'll make me get mad and I'll clench up my butt cheeks and rip your dick off!
(Bill Cosby) thought that was my whole act. Like I just walked out on-stage and cursed and left. I manage to stick in some jokes between the curses. You couldn't give no curse show. Walk out, say, 'Hey, Felt Forum, motherfucker, dick, pussy, snot and shit. Good night. Good night. Suck my dick. Bye-bye.'
Richard (Pryor) said, 'The next time the motherfucker call, tell him I said, 'Suck *my* dick.' I don't give a fuck. Whatever the fuck make the people laugh, say that shit. Do the people laugh when you say what you say?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Do you get paid?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'Well, tell Bill (Cosby) I said have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up. Jello pudding-eating motherfucker.'
|Eddie Murphy||Sam Kinison||Steve Martin||Bob Newhart||Don Rickles|
|Richard Pryor||Rodney Dangerfield||Bill Cosby||Lenny Bruce||Bill Hicks|