We all know that Eddie Murphy has been disappearing up his own sphincter for quite a while now. Apart from his performance in Showgirls his recent body of work shows someone who is out of touch and has a lot of issues to deal with and as such isn’t really funny any more.
This slide started around the time of Coming To America and that film about a tank. The Beverly Hills Cop franchise was relentlessly rinsed and became increasingly feeble with each outing.
However there was once a time when Eddie Murphy was young, fresh and had a lot to say for himself. Yes there was still the racial stereotyping and general bigoted attitude, but this was partly a reaction against a society that was a lot more repressive and unequal.
Dressed head to toe in red leather Eddie produced a couple of videos of his live stand up comedy routines and shook the genre to its core. There was this one, Delirious, the first, taped live at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. in August, 1983, and then in 1987 came Raw which was even bigger. Basing his act a lot on Richard Pryor, Eddie spoke to those disenfranchised youths and ethnic minorities with his hard hitting observational humour. And many comedians since have built on his act.
When I was younger this material was deemed taboo by my parents and I gained a lot of pleasure from secretly viewing it. The jokes caused furious out-loud laughter and some of them were deeply imprinted on me. Watching the show back now it does seem a touch dated and doesn’t reach the highs I though it did when it first came out, but at the same time it hasn’t dated that much and if you ignore his prejudices can be extremely funny.
Included in his routines are piss takes of James Brown, Michael Jackson, other top American entertainers and Chinese people. Also getting the Murphy treatment are childhood memories of Ice Cream, a gay version of Mr T and the farting game.
Eddie is sharp, witty and mostly on-point, but there are some obvious flaws to Eddie’s routine, such as his homophobia, but his style of ranting and telling it as he sees it does still resonate with me all these years on and it is good that these shows are getting a second life via DVD. I don’t think Eddie will ever be as good as this again, so you need to be sure that you have checked this and seen Eddie at his best.
The main show is 70 minutes long, but the DVD boasts brand-new special features including an Eddie Murphy Interview hosted by Byron Allen and ten minutes of never-before-seen footage. The DVD is set for release on 26th March.