On Sunday, Eddie Murphy was but one of a number of stars who appeared on the Saturday Night Live special SNL40.
Murphy appeared following a lengthy and heartfelt introduction by Chris Rock, who’s admitted in the past he’d owed much of his career to the kindness of the 53-year-old SNL veteran. Saturday Night Live apparently also owed its continued existence to Eddie, as Rock reminded everyone. And it’s true that of all the people to feature on SNL, Eddie Murphy has probably enjoyed the most success.
However, there was something about Eddie Murphy’s appearance that the word “awkward” cannot adequately address.
After hearing Chris Rock remind us just how funny Eddie Murphy used to be, seeing the man himself was a harsh reminder that whatever charisma and spark Murphy had is no longer with him.
Or maybe it is, and Murphy keeps it locked away, afraid that raw comedic energy will destroy any chance he has of being taken seriously by the Hollywood establishment.
After his huffy Oscars exit over not getting his supposed due for his role in Dream Girls, you’d think he’d understand that’s probably never going to happen. I’d be surprised if the Academy pretended to care enough about Eddie Murphy to give him a special award. And even if they did, that trophy wouldn’t make up for the comedic touch that Eddie Murphy has managed to lose sometime between the 1990s and now.
I’m sure someone will argue that Eddie Murphy made them laugh at least one time in the 21st century, and I won’t disagree. However, it’s been decades since Eddie has been consistently funny on-screen.
Eddie Murphy is the only person to host Saturday Night Live while still a cast member. pic.twitter.com/GfW19ullI3
— What The F*** Facts (@WhatTheFFacts) February 17, 2015
Of course, Eddie Murphy blatantly craves to receive praise as a serious actor. It’s just too bad that his serious work isn’t exactly up to par.
I sometimes wonder if by throwing away everything that made him funny, Murphy also tossed out the charisma that would have allowed him to be a great serious actor. As of late, Eddie hasn’t exactly done anything worthy of so much as a chuckle as far as the general public is concerned. And with that sentiment has come a string of flops in the form of both serious and comedic movies.
I won’t say that it’s been completely terrible for him.
Eddie Murphy has earned plaudits as part of a large ensemble cast, such as Dream Girls and the Shrek movies. On his own is where Murphy struggles. He has offered nothing in the lead role that would re-assure potential moviegoers that he’s anything other than box office poison at this point.
— The Root (@TheRoot) February 16, 2015
People tuned in hoping that maybe Eddie Murphy would do a skit, tell a joke, or otherwise show the world that the last nail wasn’t ready to be hammered into the coffin that is his comedic career.
I don’t know how much of that 73 seconds of screen time can be blamed on SNL. But if any part of it belonged to Murphy, he has no idea what an opportunity he missed. Perhaps he’ll feel it more strongly when everyone passes on seeing the next Beverly Hills Cop.
Seriously, Eddie Murphy?
If you couldn’t find the funny long enough for one joke in the place that launched your career, do not count on the nostalgia factor to bring people to the theaters for your “rebirth” of an old film franchise.
Chris Rock might not have meant it, but his speech about the once funny Eddie Murphy felt more like a eulogy than a tribute to a living artist.
— VH1 Classic (@VH1Classic) February 16, 2015
Instead of seeing Eddie Murphy return to SNL to blow us all away and prove that he never really lost it, it felt like Murphy was officially severing ties with everything that made us love him in the first place. And by “us,” I mean everyone old enough to remember a time when Eddie Murphy was funny. There’s an entire generation who has no idea who he is or why anyone cares.
It’s one thing to whip out clips and movies to introduce these kids to a deceased comedian in order to prove a point. But it’s kind of hard to explain what the heck happened to a comedian who stops being funny for a reason other than being dead.
Looking at you, Adam Sandler.
As for Eddie Murphy, one can only hope that the backlash and open questioning of his status as a comedian might deflate his head and encourage him to do a bit of soul-searching.
Were you disappointed in the Eddie Murphy tribute or do you think everyone’s overreacting? Do you think Eddie Murphy will ever re-discover his comedic roots?
[Image Credit: Saturday Night Live]