Eddie Murphy brought the ’80s back to Saturday Night Live as he returned to host the NBC late-night show for the first time in 35 years. For his long-awaited return, the SNL alum resurrected almost every classic character he played in the 1980s, poked fun at Bill Cosby, and dropped the s-word by mistake.
Murphy, who last appeared as host on Saturday Night Live in 1984 (with a brief return for the show’s 40th anniversary special in 2015), kicked off his return with a star-studded monologue that featured cameos by Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Tracy Morgan. Murphy’s former SNL partner Joe Piscopo was name-checked but didn’t appear in the segment.
During his monologue, Murphy noted that he was hosting the final SNL episode of the decade as he poked fun at the show’s demographic.
“This is the last episode of 2019,” the Dolemite Is My Name star said of SNL. “But if you’re black, it’s the first episode since I left in 1984.”
The 58-year-old comedian and dad of 10 also delivered a flawless impression of fallen NBC star Bill Cosby as he marveled over how much things have changed since he last hosted Saturday Night Live.
“If you would have told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring, stay-at-home house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail, I would have took that bet,” Murphy cracked. “Who’s America’s dad now?”
Following his monologue, Murphy immediately jumped into the sneakers of his classic Mr. Robinson character. The inner-city parody of Mister Rogers Neighborhood returned after three decades as Murphy’s Mr. Robinson gave his audience an update on how much has changed in his neighborhood.
For 2019, Mr. Robinson taught his viewers about squatter’s rights, racism, and how to score a 72-inch TV with a five-finger discount.
Murphy also brought back Buckwheat, despite the previous speculation by Piscopo that the parody of The Little Rascals character is too politically incorrect for today’s audiences.
For the sketch, Buckwheat was dressed as a corn cob as a contestant on the Fox celebrity singing competition The Masked Singer. In his telltale Buckwheat voice, Murphy sang bits of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” “Feliz Navidad,” and more as the onscreen lyrics displayed his dialect instead of the actual words he was supposed to be singing. Thirty-five years later, Murphy’s Buckwheat assured fans he’s still “doing o-tay.”
Murphy’s famous Gumby character later crashed the Weekend Update segment. As he sat alongside Weekend Update hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost, an angry Gumby slammed SNL for not featuring him earlier in the show.
“I should have been in every damn sketch from the top,” Gumby screamed. “I’m the one that made that Eddie Murphy a star. He was just a regular c**n boy until I saw him!”
After calling out SNL creator Lorne Michaels and NBC, Gumby called Jost “trailer boy” and Che a “black b*stard.”
Murphy seemed to ad lib the final moments of the sketch as he refused to leave the Weekend Update desk.
In one of the most controversial returns of the night, Murphy’s Velvet Jones character was a contestant on the game show “Black Jeopardy.” Throughout the sketch, Velvet “pimped” his books which teach women how to be a “ho” and make $1,500 a week.
For his 2019 update, Velvet peddled his new book “How to Be an Instagram Ho,” much to the horror of “Black Jeopardy” host Kenan Thompson.
And in one of the few sketches that didn’t feature an already known character, Murphy accidentally slipped out a curse word during the live NBC broadcast.
During a segment titled “Holiday Baking Championship,” Murphy blurted, “We can still win this sh*t.” The star then put his hand over his mouth as he acknowledged he just broke a major FCC rule, per Fox News.
While some of his characters haven’t exactly aged well, Saturday Night Live fans took to social media to rave about Murphy’s envelope-pushing return, with some calling it the best episode in years.
“So funny. Mister Robinson, Gumby w/ Velvet Jones…oh my,” one viewer wrote on Instagram.
“The best of the best, Eddie,” another fan wrote of Murphy. “Missed u much.”