"That was really amazing to me that he would have that power. To stand in front of a group of people and say: 'This is what I think is funny and I'm gonna make you laugh.' and do it."
— Charlie Murphy on his younger brother Eddie.
Eddie Murphy (April 3, 1961-) is an American actor, voice actor, film director, producer, comedian and singer. He is the second-highest grossing lead actor in motion picture history. He was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live
from 1980 to 1984 — keeping that show afloat at a time when it was floundering so badly that NBC
was considering cancellation note
— and worked as a stand-up comedian throughout The Eighties
. He was ranked #10 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
On Saturday Night Live
, he's known for appearing with Joe Piscopo in a lot of sketches (to the point that the cast members and fans thought they were stealing the spotlight), his recurring characters Mr. Robinson (a poor, black, urban take on Mr. Rogers, who first appeared on the Jean Doumanian episode that gave NBC a reason to kick her off the shownote
, but didn't become popular until Dick Ebersol took over), Buckwheat from "The Little Rascals" (whose character was assassinated, then brought back from the dead), Dion (a Camp Gay
hairstylist), Angry Black Man
Raheem Abdul Mohammed, poetic prisoner Tyrone Green, sleazy salesman Velvet Jones (the "I Wanna Be a Ho" Guide), and Gumby as an old, Jewish man. His celebrity impressions, though small, included Bill Cosby, James Brown (the singer, not the football commentator), the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Mr. T, Jerry Lewis (in a Two Faces of Eve
film parody with Joe Piscopo as the older, embittered Vegas hanger-on take on Lewis while Murphy played the loud, bucktoothed, childish moron version of him), and Stevie Wonder. Eddie Murphy is also the first (and, so far, only) Saturday Night Live
cast member to host the show while still a cast member, a decision that has been cited by the cast at the time as a low point for the show and a sign that Dick Ebersol cared more about making Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo popular rather than give the other cast members (Gary Kroeger, a pre-Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfus
, Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky, and Brad Hall) a chance at being funny.
His 1983 stand-up show Delirious
is memetically popular with the new generation, featuring memorable sketches such as his drunk foul-mouthed
dad, his shoe-throwing mom, his overweight moustached Aunt Bonnie who fell down the stairs (My Shoe!) and is rumored to be Bigfoot (GOONIE GOO GOO!), portraying Mr. T
and Ralph Kramden
as homosexuals, portraying Michael Jackson
as a very sensitive young man, discussing offended African-Americans on his portrayal of Stevie Wonder and much much more.
Amongst his Eighties film roles, he was best-known for playing Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop
series; he also helped popularize Salt and Pepper
pairings with his work in 48 Hrs.
(his film debut) and Trading Places
. In 2007, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for playing soul singer James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls
a role which also received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In case you can't tell yet, Murphy was absolutely huge
in the '80s. He even scored a chart-topping pop hit with "Party All the Time" in 1985; people bought the (notably bland) song entirely because it was Murphy and Rick James
In some of his films he plays multiple roles in addition to his main character, intended as a tribute to one of his idols, Peter Sellers
, who played multiple roles in Dr. Strangelove
and elsewhere. Murphy has played multiple roles in Coming to America
, Wes Craven
's Vampire in Brooklyn
, The Nutty Professor
films (where he played the title role in two incarnations, plus his father, uncle, mother and grandmother), Bowfinger
and 2007's Norbit
After voicing Mushu the dragon in Disney's Mulan
, Murphy's work as a voice actor went on to include Thurgood Stubbs in The PJs
and Donkey in the Shrek
His brother Charlie was a regular on Chappelle's Show
and played Ed Wuncler III in The Boondocks
. He even appeared in a cameo as himself in a segment from 1000 Ways to Die
Unfortunately, as the 1990's and 2000's rolled around, Eddie's career took a turn for the worse, hitting rock bottom when Adventures of Pluto Nash
became one of the all-time biggest flops, with a budget of $100 million dollars and a worldwide gross of $7.1 million. He had a brief resurgence of quality with the Shrek
films and Dreamgirls
, but he has yet to have a hit film since then.
His roles provide examples of:
- Acting for Two: He does this. A lot. Sometimes three or four characters at a time.
- Ass Shove: "Boogie In Your Butt."
- Black and Nerdy: His role as Norbit in the movie Norbit and also his role as Jiff in Bowfinger and as Professor Sherman Klump in The Nutty Professor.
- The Casanova: His character in the movie Boomerang.
- Cluster F-Bomb: When doing stand up.
- Cowboy Cop: Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop.
- Fan Disservice: Rasputia in a two-piece swimsuit is not a nice sight to see.
- Fat Suit: Nutty Professor and Norbit.
- Jerkass: Slide in Tower Heist.
- Large Ham: In many of his works.
- Lovable Sex Maniac: Reggie in 48 Hours.
- Mic Drop: Delirious features one of the earliest mic drops on film, in 1983.
- Motor Mouth: Used to great effect in his comedies.
- N-Word Privileges
- Non-Human Sidekick: Donkey in the animated movie Shrek. Mushu in Mulan.
- Older than They Look: He's 52, but he hardly looks it.
- Rated G for Gangsta: He started his career as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, then moved on to foul-mouthed standup comedy. His first movie roles were primarily in R-rated comedies, then turned to more family-friendly fare in the 1990's and into the 2000's. As of today, he has proclaimed that he has moved on to more mature roles.
- Though, there was Norbit.
- Really Gets Around: In the movie Boomerang.
- Salt and Pepper: In 48 Hours, the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy, and Showtime.
- Sassy Black Woman: Rasputia in Norbit.
- Schmuck Bait: In recalling his phone call with Bill Cosby in Raw, when the Cos admonished Eddie for saying "filth flarn filth!", Eddie played dumb for a while ("I never said no 'filth flarn flith' and I'm offended you called, fuck you!") until he was able to bait Bill into saying the F-bomb ("Youuuu cannot say...FUCK!...in front of people!").note
- Self-Deprecation: His Buddy Love persona in The Nutty Professor is a big Take That against what he was known as during his slumping career in the early 1990s, when he was starting to get a reputation for being overly obnoxious and self-absorbed.
- Soul Brotha: In Mulan as Mushu also Slide in Tower Heist .
- Talking Animal: Donkey in the Shrek film series.
- Two Hit Wonder: "Party All the Time" (1985) and "Put Your Mouth on Me" (1989).
- Uncle Tomfoolery:His characters in Trading Places and I Spy.
- White Dude, Black Dude: In his stand up routines.