This weekend, the comedian and actor returned to the stage that made him a household name for the season finale of NBC’s long-running variety sketch show — and he pulled out all the stops while doing so.
At the beginning of the show, the audience immediately began chanting Murphy’s name as he stepped out on stage, and he kicked off his opening monologue with a plethora of hilarious jokes. “This is the last episode of 2019, but if you’re black, this is the first episode since I left in 1984,” Murphy, 58, joked.
“I just had a new baby just about a year ago,” he continued. “That means I have 10 kids now. My kids are actually pretty much my whole life now, and if you would have told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring, stay-at-home dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail, even I would have taken that bet.”
After sharing updates about some of his recent projects, including Netflix film Dolemite Is My Name and the upcoming sequel of Coming to America, Murphy was joined on stage by some longtime friends and fellow comedians: Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle.
“If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be here,” Morgan, 51, told Murphy, while Rock, 54, joked that he was only there for Lizzo, the show’s musical guest.
“Alright, now you’re looking at half of Netflix’s budget,” Chapelle, 46, joked to the audience, which Morgan clarified that he “made all my millions on the road.”
“You mean touring?” Murphy asked him.
“No, I got hit by a truck,” Morgan responded, referring to his 2014 accident.
After the opening monologue, Murphy got back into character to revisit many of his iconic SNL skits from back in the day. To start, he returned to the rundown apartment of “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” to teach kids about the now-gentrified neighborhood.
“It’s like a magic trick,” Murphy said. “White people pay a lot of money and then, poof, all the black people are gone. But where do they go, boys and girls? Back to where they come from, of course — Atlanta!”
In the next skit, the comedian participated in a Masked Singer parody to revive Buckwheat, a character who was so popular that Murphy himself killed him off on the show during the 1980s.
After hiding himself in a corn on the cob costume, Murphy revealed his identity as Buckwheat and delivered a number of hit songs for the judging panel, such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Respect,” and “Single Ladies.”
Murphy capped off the skit by uttering the character’s iconic line, saying, “Don’t worry about Buckwheat, just remember, wherever I am, I’m doing Otay.”
The comedian also transformed into the green cigar-smoking Gumby to visit Michael Che and Colin Jost on Weekend Update. After yelling at them for not letting him on the segment earlier, Murphy’s Gumby joked, “This is the thanks I get for saving this show from the gutter?” alluding to when he revived the character in the ’80s and ’90s.
“Shame on you, Lorne Michaels! Shame on you, NBC!” Murphy said, before insulting Che, 36, and Jost, 37.
“You know why you two are behind this desk? Because your jokes don’t have legs,” he joked. “I’ve passed kidney stones with more personality than the two of you.”
In the recurring skit “Black Jeopardy,” Murphy returned as pimp Velvet Jones who tried to turn women into prostitutes by writing books like “I Wanna Be A Ho.”
Unsurprisingly, Murphy’s Velvet Jones said many disparaging things about women and got scolded by the show’s host, played by Kenan Thompson. He also debuted a new book this time, “Ass for Cash,” which led Thomspon to ask him if he knows about the MeToo movement.
Also on the show, musical guest Lizzo, 31, delivered her show-stopping hits “Good as Hell” and “Truth Hurts” during the episode.
Murphy was previously a cast member from 1980 to 1984 and last hosted the show in 1984. He also briefly returned for the show’s 40th anniversary special in 2015.