Eddie Murphy Explains How His Next Standup Special Will Be Different Than His Past Work

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More than two months ago, reports suggested that Eddie Murphy is in negotiations to return to standup comedy. The speculation came with a Netflix appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld asked his peer about a possible comeback for his show on a platform that is paying multi-million dollar deals for specials by Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and others.

Murphy, who is scheduled to return to host SNL this coming December for the first time in 35 years, has now confirmed his return to the stage. The comedian/actor spoke to The New York Times‘ Jason Zimonan, who shadowed Murphy during the filming of the upcoming Netflix biopic, Dolemite Is My Name.

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The article confirms Murphy’s Netflix deal and reports that the special will arrive in 2020. Additionally, the Brooklyn, New York native is planning a theater tour, bringing him back to the medium that, along with SNL, and later, film, made him a superstar during the 1980s.

“I didn’t want to just pop back up,” Murphy says of his ‘Dolemite’ role, which the public can digest on October 4 (trailer embedded below). “I wanted a funny movie to remind them that they liked me. This movie turned out so strong that I figured this is a great way to come back.” In 2016, Eddie starred in Mr. Church, but it was not a Comedy film or role. Additionally, Eddie is reprising his roles on both sides of the camera for Coming 2 America, an upcoming star-studded sequel to one of his best-loved works.

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Legacy matters to an artist who has seemingly accomplished it all. “I’m kind of looking at this period as a bookend,” he said. “I hadn’t been back to ‘SNL. Let’s fix that. Let’s do standup again. That way, when I finally just sit on the couch, then it’s good.”

At a time when some standup stars are scrutinized for their content, Murphy acknowledges the changes. He considers himself “kind of an assh*le,” in the 1980s in regards to jokes about women and other subjects. Now 58 years old, he says he picked at issues to cope with a romantic breakup at the time of Eddie Murphy: Raw. However, Murphy also pointed to past public apologies and picketing to show that he dealt with push-back over his content.

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Although Zimonan sees minute changes in Murphy’s wit and manner, his subject admits to being “mushier than I used to be.” In the era of Eddie Murphy: Delirious and Raw, the comedian was a bachelor. Now, he’s a father to 10 children. “I now have a whole lifetime of experiences to draw upon. There was a time when I was at the center of everything, what I was doing, and how funny I was and how popular,” he told his interviewer. “I’m not at the center. Now my kids are and everything revolves around them.” Murphy added that behind the scenes, he’s been working on material for years. He estimates that 15 to 20 minutes of content is ready, based on what he’s done into tape recorders. However, Eddie wants 90 polished minutes. He also says that fans should not expect any form-fitting leather suits this time around.

In the interview, Murphy says he must reprise his portrayal of “Buckwheat” for SNL. The spoofing of the Our Gang character was one of many impersonations that were water-cooler TV moments before the term “viral” applied. The comedian also told the journalist he has similar sentiments about “Gumby” and his Fred Rodgers parody, “Mr. Robinson.” The major appearance marks a turning point less than four weeks from a benchmark 2020. Eddie Murphy seemingly wants that decade to mirror the ’80s, with a mature, evolved tinge.

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Premiering Friday (October 4), Dolemite Is My Name is dedicated to Eddie’s late brother, Charlie.