After almost 40 years in the spotlight, Eddie Murphy has seen how the times have changed in terms of lines comedians are willing to cross with their material.
But despite knowing how much of what he used to cover in how own stand-up routines 30-plus years ago wouldn’t fly today, he does admit there’s “some of” his material he’d still laugh at now — while other jokes are “cringey.”
“In the moment, you kinda was like, ‘It is what it is,’ ” continued Murphy, 58, when Smith asked if people “picketing” his old material ever eats at him. “I’ve seen [old] stuff [recently] that I go like, ‘Oh, that’s … ooh.’ Yeah, you get a joke every now and then that’s cringey.”
“But that’s not to say I don’t appreciate it — I still appreciate it. And I’m looking at it within the context of the time, you know? I’m going, ‘Okay, I’m a kid saying that,’ ” said the actor and comedian, noting that he has no regrets “whatsoever” about his body of work.
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Some of Murphy’s more controversial material is evident in his 1983 stand-up special Eddie Murphy: Delirious, where he joked about being “afraid of gay people” and about the AIDS epidemic.
Today, the star’s recent comeback (after starring over the years in films like Shrek and The Nutty Professor) has included a new Netflix biographical comedy, Dolemite Is My Name, and triumphant return to the Saturday Night Live stage, where he brought back several iconic characters from his initial run on the show in the 1980s.
During a visit to the Today show in October, Murphy told Al Roker that he plans to approach his return to stand-up a lot differently than in his heyday, working with different material now that he’s older and a father of 10.
“Last time I did stand-up I was 27 years old,” he said. “I look at some of my old stuff and cringe. Sometimes I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I said that!’ I’m 58 now so I don’t think I’m gonna approach it the same way.”
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Murphy previously hinted that he might be nearing a return to stand-up in Jerry Seinfeld‘s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Netflix show. The topic came up when Seinfeld, 65, lightly teased Murphy from staying away from the format that he excelled in for so long.
“You know that you not doing stand-up drives people crazy — you know that, right?” Seinfeld asked Murphy, who said he’d heard that before and recalled that the late comedian Don Rickles urged him to return to the stage before his death in 2017.
“I’m going to do it again,” said the 2020 Golden Globe nominee. “Everything just has to be right. You have to get up there and start working out. [I] still gotta go to the comedy club.”
Dolemite Is My Name is available to stream on Netflix now.