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Eddie Murphy on real-life 'Dolemite' and how audiences would react to 'audacious' shock comic in today's cancel culture

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  • Eddie Murphy
    Eddie Murphy
    American comedian

Rudy Ray "Dolemite" Moore shocked his way to a cult following, particularly among African American audiences, in the early 1970s with underground obscenity-laced comedy records that included Eat Out More Often, This P***y Belongs to Me, The Cockpit and Dolemite Is Another Crazy N****r. He eventually became a star of Blaxploitation cinema, and is often credited as one of the — if not the — godfathers of hip-hop.

Now, Moore, who died in 2008, is being memorialized by Eddie Murphy in the buzzworthy new Netflix biopic Dolemite Is My Name, which traces Moore’s rise to fame and shocks in its own right by recreating the comic’s edgy routines.

How would audiences in 2019 react to Moore if he came up today, though? We asked the cast at the film's Los Angeles press day, and reactions varied (watch above).

"I think they would like him," said Murphy, whose portrayal of Moore is drawing Oscar buzz. "He has a cult following, people get exposed to him every day. … For the same reasons he was successful back then, he would be successful now. Because his movies are unique. His records, his stuff, is all unique. And they're just as audacious [as they were then]. Anybody that hears it for the first time will have the same reaction to it."

Keegan-Michael Key and Wesley Snipes are more diplomatic.

"I think there are two responses," said Key. "One would be complete outrageousness, 'I can't handle this, who is this filthy guy?! How dare he!' And the other one would be, 'This is the most provoking performance art I've ever seen.'"

"Without a doubt," Snipes agreed. "You'd have some that love him, and some that would be mortified. Highly offended."

Craig Robinson is positive Moore would be controversial in what's become a much tougher climate for comedians to push the envelope.

"[People would be] horrified. In this cancel me culture, absolutely," he said. "But I don’t think it would matter to him, because he knows there's an audience for him."

Dolemite Is My Name is now streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer:

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