Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eddie Murphy on SNL

It's hard to believe but it's almost been thirty years since Brooklyn-native Eddie Murphy first outraged America on Saturday Night Live. He was only 19 years old or something at the time and had been found by the SNL producers working the comedy clubs, his talent obvious to all.

If you ever read the definitive book on SNL, Live from New York, Eddie first appeared as a minor featured player during the 1980-81 season. He almost never appeared in sketches and, when he did, had little to do. This season has gone down as one of the worst in the show's history but it was obvious to everyone that Eddie was super-funny and had been criminally under used.

After that disastrous season, nearly all of the cast members (including Gilbert Gottfried) were fired save Eddie and Joe Piscopo. The new cast and the next three seasons were largely built around these two, and Eddie etched some of his most memorable characters that have become pop culture icons: Gumby ("I'm Gumby dammit!"), Mr Robinson's Neighborhood ("Hello little chidrin'"), Buckwheat ("Oh-tay!"), Velvet Jones ("Do you wanna be a ho?"), as well as such brilliant celebrity impression as Stevie Wonder and, seen here, James Brown.

Eddie Murphy left SNL mid-season in 1984 (twenty-five years ago!) and went on to have a rather up-and-down movie career (mostly down in my humble opinion). He also had a bad falling out with SNL in the 1990s when David Spade made a joke on "Weekend Update" about Eddie's flailing movie career at the time. Apparently Eddie is very thin-skinned and was so angry that he swore that he'd never again have anything to do with Saturday Night Live ever again.

Poor us.

Since then both Eddie and the show have basically jumped the shark but thankfully we can always watch the old episodes and remember that great time when Eddie and SNL were dangerously funny -- New York institutions both at their zenith.


  1. What do you think of the current cast? I think they're stellar. Then again I never cared for the over the top antics of Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, etc.

  2. I think the new cast and the show in general is better than it's been in a long time. That said, I think with SNL, the cast you remember watching when you first discovered the show will always be your favorite. For me, it's the Phil Hartman/Mike Myers/Dana Carvey era, with great skits like Wayne's World, Sprockets, Church Lady, etc.


Please keep it civil, intelligent, and expletive-free. Otherwise, opine away.