There are three things to know about the enigma that is Eddie Murphy: 1) his humor is evergreen; 2) his list of admirers reads like the royal family of comedy; 3) he greatly dislikes hearing people rave about him.
Nevertheless, for literally One Night Only, Spike TV’s upcoming tribute special to the comic icon, Murphy sat back, smiled, and let his friends, colleagues, and protégés take over the stage to pay homage to his 30-plus years in show business.
“It feels nice, I think,” the 51-year-old actor told theGrio on his way into the event Saturday (November 3) at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. “I’ll know on the way out how it felt more.”
It took years of convincing to persuade the superstar to agree with the honorary celebration, but the turnout and showcase indicated a deep desire has been burning within the entertainment community for some time. The show featured famous scenes from some of Murphy’s most popular films and shows, including Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America and The Nutty Professor, along with clips from his days on Saturday Night Live and two comedy specials, Delirious and Raw.
Those who paid homage to the comedian included actors, comedians, and industry colleagues like Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Rock, Tyler Perry, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence, Adam Sandler, Charlie Murphy, Russell Brand, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Brett Ratner and Arsenio Hall.
“As talented as Eddie is, he doesn’t necessarily like to have people kiss his ass for an hour and a half,” Hall told theGrio. “That’s hard. That’s awkward. But he deserves it and he needs to do it. And I think his brother talked him into it – Vernon [Lynch] – who is one of the producers on this. He was like, ‘You need to have this; they’ve done Tom Green twice! Do this.’”
Hall also described the impression his Coming to America co-star made on the field of humor.
“When I first started doing comedy, comics were monologists – straight up, stand-up, punch line type guys,” he said. “Set up – punch line; set up – punch line. Eddie brought a certain kind of versatility to it…He broke stand-up out of the mold of a guy with a microphone just talking. Now, it’s like LeBron – the next guy after LeBron is gonna have to fly. And after Eddie, he put the bar high. And guys had to really bring it cause he did so much.”
Murphy first broke out in comedy around 1980 when he joined the cast of SNL, bringing noteworthy hilarity with sketches like “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood,” “Little Richard Simmons,” and the famous characters he devised in “Velvet Jones,” and “Buckwheat.” Two years later, he was doing movies, starring alongside Nick Nolte in the action comedy feature 48 Hours.