Sunday, June 30, 2024

Great Newspaper Reads: Eddie Murphy makes #2 on my list of favorite Saturday Night Live players

In honor of Eddie Murphy’s upcoming Netflix movie Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, The New York Times makes him this subject of The Interview this weekend.

Here are the highlights:

  • When Murphy joined Saturday Night Live in 1980, the show was thought to be on the verge of cancellation. His memorable characters like Mr. Robinson, Gumby, Mr. White, Buckwheat, and James Brown contributed significantly to making me a life-long SNL fan.
  • Murphy knew around age 13 or 14 that he would become famous.
  • 1987’s Eddie Murphy: Raw remains the top-grossing standup-comedy movie ever.
  • His look in that movie and also what he wore everywhere around that time was influenced by Elvis.
  • He met Richard Pryor on a plane and gave him a cassette of his first album. Sitting a few rows away, he could see the back of Pryor’s head and that he was laughing. “I could have died right there,” he says.
  • Murphy says he’s never seen a better comic than Pryor or a better actor than Charlie Chaplin.
  • Most people likely know him from his movies, although SNL is by far his high water mark for me. That said, Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs. are classic comedies. 
  • After 48 Hrs., Marlon Brando called to see if Murphy would have dinner with him. Brando told him acting was bullshit and that anyone could do it, naming “that kid” Clint Eastwood - one of my all-time favorites - as someone he couldn’t stand.
  • He doesn’t drink and he turned down participating when Robin Williams and John Belushi would hang out with him while doing coke. Murphy said he smoked weed but not that much and not until his first time at age 30.
  • He thought there was plenty of racism directed against him over the years. One that he points out in the interview is when David Spade made a reference on SNL to Murphy’s career being in free fall. Murphy said hearing that from his own people at the show was a cheap shot and somewhat racist. That said, he’s cool these days with Spade and SNL mastermind Loren Michaels.
  • He calls Pluto Nash his worst movie.
  • He describes himself as so out of touch these days that he can’t even name a single Taylor Swift song.
  • His ideal day sounds a lot like mine: sit around and not do much other than play guitar and hear the kids somewhere playing around. 
Not an easy task, but I'll add my all-time 10 favorite SNL cast members (not based on what else they have done in the careers, just based off their SNL output):

10. Gilda Radner
09. Mike Myers
08. Will Ferrell
07. Steve Martin (regular guest)
06. Adam Sandler
05. Bill Murray
04. Martin Short
03. Chevy Chase (with just one season!)
02. Eddie Murphy
01. Chris Farley

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