Skip to comments.HOW A RARE MISTAKE LED TO EDDIE MURPHY’S BIG ‘SNL’ BREAK
Posted on 03/30/2021 11:23:15 AM PDT by nickcarraway
Eddie Murphy's early years on the set of Saturday Night Live laid the foundation for the rest of his career, but they almost didn't happen at all.
Sometime during the Jan. 10, 1981, show, it became apparent the program was running five minutes short. With only 15 minutes left till the end of the show and nothing on hand to fill in the missing time, producer Jean Doumanian scrambled to find a solution. Murphy, who was just a recently hired featured player and not an official member of the cast, sprung to writer Neil Levy's mind.
"I remembered Eddie's from his audition, like, three months earlier," Levy recalled in Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales' 2002 oral history of the show. "So I said, 'Why don't you see if Eddie can do the monologue that he did for his audition? And I ran up and I found Eddie, and I asked him. And his face lit up like he'd been waiting for this moment his whole life."
Murphy took to the stage and delivered the monologue, a hilarious bit of him acting out several Harlem characters fixing to start a fight: "That dude says my mama's got a wooden leg with a kickstand. Now my mama's leg ain't got no kickstand on it, it's just a regular wooden leg."
The monologue went over so well, Murphy was promoted as the seventh member of the cast just a few weeks later.
In many ways, Levy was right: Murphy had been waiting for that moment his whole life. When he was 17 and still in high school, he began performing regularly at the White House Inn, a club on Long Island where he was the first Black comedian to be in showcase. In 1979, he told The New York Times he considered himself a “universal comic whose material would play equally well in front of both Black and white audiences.”
So when Murphy got word in 1980 that the “Black slot” in SNL’s cast was open due to Garrett Morris' departure, he jumped at the opportunity to fill the shoes. Doumanian had already hired comedian Robert Townsend for the role, but that didn't stop the 19-year-old Murphy from presenting his case anyway.
"This guy Eddie Murphy started calling me," Levy remembered. "And I told him, 'I'm sorry, we're not auditioning anymore.' But he called again the next day, and he would go into this whole thing about how he had 18 brothers and sisters and they were counting on him to get this job. And he would call every day for about a week." (Murphy, in fact, had only one sibling.)
He was so persistent that Levy finally called him in for an audition, where he performed his monologue of Harlem characters. Levy was so impressed he tried to convince Doumanian to sign him full-time. "I didn't have enough budget to put Eddie on as a member of the cast, because I had already selected the cast when I auditioned him," she recalled. "So I let him be a featured player."
So, Murphy came on as a featured player. But it was that exact monologue that would later save the show those five precious minutes and established Murphy as a bona fide member of the SNL cast in 1981.
"I know what you're thinking," he said when announcing his promotion on the show. "You're thinking, 'The kid's young, he's 19 years-old.' Am I going to be a burnout? I don't think so." Murphy became the show's breakout star for the next three years.
“...both Black and white audiences.”
Screw this PC crap. Capitalize both “black” and “white” when referring to race, or neither. My vote would be for neither.
Eddie is fabulous one of my all time faves
heh. He prophesied about George Floyd at 1:30.
Also, thanks to Youtube, we’ve all seen black people fighting. It’s nothing like his routine. ;)
That definitely would not be PC today.
No doubt, he was a funny guy...SNL used to crack me up back then...
When I see stuff from that era now, it all seems a little dated - but that’s not his fault - everything gets old after a while..
But today’s comedians are so unfunny it’s sad.. there are a few exceptions but not many.
That was actually a thing way back then.
Today it’s just “So? We’re plowing this field again?”
I still watch Delirious and I still laugh as hard now as I did then.
He personified Gumby more than any man alive
"What a silly negro!"
I went to the source, Eddie’s 1979 interview with the NY Times. Both were lower case.
The writer of this article capitalized “black”, thus proving your point.
Kill my landlord
Kill my landlord
C-I-L-L my landlord
"Donny and Marie! Hey, hey, hey, cut it out! Is this how you kids go Hawaiian? Give me a break here! "
So SNL has always been racist
A lot of comedy is about social validation. That’s why so many comedians are political. People will actually laugh when you make a quip, insult, or metaphor that agrees with their perspectives, particularly if it’s not popular or PC, or even if you didn’t validate them but can contort something almost taboo into something personal.
That is why the older comedians were funnier. They pushed against a lot of norms and accepted premises. Many of today’s comedians are afraid be un-PC. You’ll still get approval from audiences when they agree with you, but it’s not the social jolt. Self deprecating humor can be very effective, even if it’s about race or class and not about the comedian personally, because you are allowed to parody a stereotype if you are in that class or group. Again, the unwritten secret to that is social validation, when makes the topic uncomfortable when you acknowledge it.
As I recall, SNL was horrible when Eddie came on board, and they would up only keeping Eddie and Piscopo for the next season.
See the dog in the window...
Do he bite?
That is a racist phrase, either from Allison Rapp or the UCR editors.
He and Cosby had some beef. I thought his Cosby jokes in Raw were just that, jokes. Turns out Cosby really was upset over Murphy. Pretty ironic that Murphy has 10 kids and is a good father while Cosby will likely die in prison.
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