Eddie Murphy was and is a stand up comedy legend. With Raw and Delirious, Murphy cemented himself early on in his career as one of the most charismatic, sharp, and yes, filthy comics around. During the height of his fame as a comic, however, his harder material was criticized for homophobia and crossing the line.
Today, Murphy looks back at some of his earlier material and cringes.
Jokes That Haven’t Aged Well
Of course, Murphy told these jokes in the early ‘80s and hardly reflect the comedian he is today. He’s grown as a comic, and because of that, he sees what’s troubling or, arguably, weaker about his earlier material.
During an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Murphy was asked how he views his homophobic jokes today. He responded with the following:
“Some of it [is still funny to me]. Some of it, I cringe when I watch. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I said that!’”
At the time, these jokes of Murphy’s drew hot ire and protests, which Murphy just accepted as part of his job:
“No. In the moment, you kind of was like, ‘Hey, it is what it is,’ you know? You’ll get a joke that’s cringe. But that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate it. I still appreciate it. And I’m looking at it within the context of the times, you know. And I’m going, ‘Okay, I’m a kid, saying that.’”
Murphy’s One Apology
While Murphy’s comedy in the ‘80s was completely unapologetic, he did apologize for one of his darker jokes.
In the ‘90s, Murphy apologized for his material about AIDS. He acknowledged he wasn’t educated enough in the ‘80s, and years later, he was sorry for it.
“I know that AIDS isn’t funny,” he told David Letterman.
Eddie Murphy’s Return to Stand Up
After a big year with a triumphant return to Saturday Night Live, starring in the best episode of Comedians in Coffee yet, and all the love he’s received for Dolemite is My Name, Murphy will soon hit the road as a comic again. He’ll hit the clubs and tour, just like the old days.
Unlike the old days, however, some of his material won’t punch down as ferociously. In the age of social media and more advocacy for social awareness, in which harder comedians face hardcore backlash online for off-colour jokes, it may look like a different landscape for Murphy to do comedy in — but it’s not.
As Murphy told The New York Times, he’s been there, done that:
“I went through all that stuff, so this is not scary. All this stuff they are talking about: ‘Hey, welcome to the club.”
Murphy went on in that interview to call himself a bit of an “asshole” in the ‘80s. Now, we’ll see a wiser, more experienced, and probably even funnier Murphy hit the stage next year:
“I now have a whole lifetime of experiences to draw upon. There was a time when I was at the center of everything, what I was doing, and how funny I was and how popular. I’m not at the center. Now my kids are and everything revolves around them.”
Murphy, who recently shot Coming 2 America, has been working on stand up material for the last several years. Months ago, he confirmed he had a ready-to-go 15 minutes, but he’s working towards 90 for his first Netflix special, due out this year.
As a comedian, he struck the biggest payday yet at Netflix, although they haven’t confirmed the rumored $70 million price tag. Worth every penny.