Eddie Murphy is back but the question is not “are we ready?” It’s more like, “is Eddie Murphy ready?” The former standup prodigy is booked to host Saturday Night Live (SNL) this December. Netflix is working on a deal with Murphy to release an undisclosed amount of standup specials.
Eddie Murphy’s Historic Pedigree
To be clear, Eddie Murphy is an undeniable all-time talent. He deserves to be at the front of the line for the Hollywood hall of fame. Murphy recorded his debut standup special “Delirious” at 22 years old and instantly became a megastar. He followed it up with “Raw,” literally the most successful stand-up special of all-time. His SNL career is second-to-none. And his movies like “Trading Places,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” and “The Nutty Professor” will live in our hearts and box-office records forever.
But still, the man is pushing 60 and he hasn’t released a standup special in over 32 years. If the world is expecting him to return to his “Raw” form, they’re going to be crushed. Stand-up is not like riding a bike. You can’t take decades off and pick up where you left off – despite Dave Chappelle nearly proving this theory wrong.
Eddie Murphy is Not Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle’s case differs from Murphy’s in several aspects. First of all, Chappelle was only “gone” from standup for about 12 years, not 32. During that break he still did occasional shows and even set the stand-up endurance record, performing for over six straight hours. Eddie Murphy has been GONE. There have been no rumors of him dropping in at comedy clubs to practice. There were no secret recordings of his sets.
One of the many aspects that made “Raw” and “Delirious” so good was the kinetic, youthful energy. That will be difficult for the 58-year-old to replicate.
Bad Movies, Bad look
Even Eddie Murphy as a movie star has fallen off. Aside from the animated donkey he voices in Shrek, Murphy hasn’t had an iconic role in years. His last three movies, “Mr. Church,” “A Thousand Words,” and “Tower Heist,” averaged a 30% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. He’s joining fellow icons like Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Adam Sandler in making progressively worse movies. There’s nothing wrong with them, nobody stays on top forever. That’s not Eddie Murphy’s fault.
Netflix Is Making a Mistake
It is Netflix’s fault for giving Murphy $70 million. With Disney Plus aiming to take a chunk out of the streaming giant, Netflix can’t afford to make more bad decisions. Maybe it will work out. He’ll probably be great as a guest host on SNL. His new movies even have a good shot at reversing his trend of bad movies. Maybe people will watch his specials for old-time’s sake. But if you’re expecting it to be as good as his previous specials, you will be disappointed. And if you’re Netflix, you need to hide your wallet from yourself.