Eddie Murphy says he was ‘kind of an asshole’ in early standup specials

Eddie Murphy has once again done something many other comedians couldn’t do: express regret for his offensive material.

Murphy is ramping up his publicity tour for a massive round of new content. His star turn in potential Oscar contender Dolemite Is My Name accompanies a new Netflix deal to produce more standup specials that is allegedly worth around $70 million. The comedy legend will also host Saturday Night Live, embark on a standup tour, and appear in next year’s Coming to America sequel, Coming 2 America.

Staring down his big comeback bid, Murphy sat down with the New York Times for a long profile and reflected on his career. During the interview, Murphy looked back on his early standup career, particularly in light of the current dialogue around comedy. He acknowledged that while Delirious and Raw are still considered standup classics, some of the material is offensive and unacceptable by today’s standards.

“I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an asshole,” he said as he thought back to the kind of jokes he was telling in the ’80s, often laced with misogyny and homophobia.

Murphy went as far as to mime himself uncomfortably watching Raw, which the Times deftly describes:

Wearing a plush zip-up jacket with sunglasses hanging off the front, Murphy leaned back and shifted from a cool monotone to a comic impression of himself watching “Raw” as a snooty prude. “That’s a bit much, my goodness,” he said, cracking up, then shifting again, taking his voice down an octave to register a hint of moral disapproval: “My word.”

It will be interesting to see how the comedy world receives Murphy’s comments, as comedians who are deemed offensive often cite the work of older comedians such as Murphy, Sam Kinison, and George Carlin as justification for their material. It will also be intriguing to see Murphy attempt to return to form as award season heats up.

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H/T New York Times

Brenden Gallagher

Brenden Gallagher

Brenden Gallagher is a politics reporter and cultural commentator. His work has been published by Motherboard, Complex, and VH1. He’s the co-founder of Beer Money Films, an indie production company. Based in Los Angeles, he works in television drama as a writers assistant.