If, in this #CancelCulture age, you’ve seen or recalled some of Eddie Murphy’s old standup material and thought, “I can’t believe there’s been no uproar over this,” then this article is for you.
Speaking with CBS News, Eddie — of whom I’m a big fan — addressed something you can’t help but notice in his 1980’s standup specials: gay jokes.
What do those old lines do to the 58-year-old entertainer these days?
In some cases, they make him cringe.
“Some of it (is still funny to me). Some of it, I cringe when I watch it. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I said that.’”
A particularly notable clip comes from 1983’s comedy film Delirious, during which he talked of having “nightmares about gay people.”
Correspondent Tracy Smith asked:
“People were picketing you. Did that bother you?”
“No. In the moment, you kind of was like, ‘Hey, it is what it is,’ you know?”
When asked if the more eyebrow-raising past material bothers him now, he said…a little:
“I’ve seen stuff that I’ll go, like, oh, that’s, ooh, yeah, you’ll get a joke that’s cringey. 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.”
A kid indeed — Murphy started Saturday Night Live when he was only 19; few performers with that kind of star power in their teens go on to have a long career. We’ve gotten to have Eddie for 40 years. And he’s still going strong — in fact, he’s planning a new standup special.
“There’s nothing like making people laugh,” he explained.
“[B]eing able to do that for a living is a blessing and a privilege. There’s no higher calling for an artist. There’s nothing like hearing that big crowd of people, just hearing people laugh, there’s nothing like that. Nothing.”
It’s not the first time he’s talked of old routines and controversy. From The Daily Wire in September:
“I went through all that stuff, so this is not scary,” he said about controversies over jokes. He pointed that he had been picketed and had also apologized for material about AIDS that he now calls “ignorant” before adding, on the subject of anxiety by comics today: “All this stuff they are talking about: ‘Hey, welcome to the club.’”
And he’s never been thrown out of the club…of successful comedians.
So how’s Eddie lasted so long and stayed on the straight and narrow?
Some may be surprised to discover he attributes his success to God and prayer:
“You know what I found? A lot of of people in show business that get really successful at an early age, a lot of them go through a lot of stuff and have issues and drug problems, and all these are self-destructive. And I never had that because I was grounded spiritually.”
He’s a man of faith:
“I’ve always been really comfortable in my skin. It’s ’cause I’ve always been grounded spiritually, you know? I believe in God and I believe in prayer.”
Smith asked if he prays every day.
“Yeah, I pray all the time, you know. I pray all the time. And you don’t have to, like, get down on your knees and pray, you know. You can pray wherever.”
Yes, you can.
Here’s praying Eddie doesn’t lose his sense of the subversiveness, as he lets loose from the stage once again.
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