By Bob Andelman
Eddie Murphy’s “Lawd Have Murphy” tour is a little like a movie he did last year called Best Defense. Much as you’d like to see more of the young comic, you wish he hadn’t done it.
The popular comedian/actor’s second national our took him from the 3,000-to 5,000-seat halls of the “Delirious” tour into caverns like Tampa’s Sun Dome (11,000) on the grounds of the University of South Florida.
Opening his 30-city tour in Tallahassee’s Leon County Civic Center on Feb. 26, Murphy moved south through Gainesville, Tampa (Feb. 28) and Miami. Beach Club of Orlando handled 11 Florida dates, including eight at the Sunrise Musical Theatre in Miami.
“I worked him pretty good,” said promoter Cliff Corbett. “Everything (was) clean (sold out). The guy’s doing phenomenal business.”
In Tampa, Murphy played two shows before sellout crowds of 8,500 each at $15 a ticket.
A five-minute film opens the show, its only soundtrack a blast of the Pointer Sisters singing “Neutron Dance” from Beverly Hills Cop. The clip flashes Murphy on magazine covers, on “Saturday Night Live” (as Bill Cosby, Gumby, Stevie Wonder, Mr. Rogers and Buckwheat) and in movies (48 Hours, Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop). At its conclusion, Murphy’s shadow is seen behind the screen approaching like a gun-slinging hero in an old western.
Dressed in black pants, shirt and tie with a gold pattern on a black jacket, Murphy moved across the stage, waving and smiling to a standing ovation.
“How many motherf—— they got in here?” he asked. “It’s funny for me, ‘cause I didn’t do s— yet!”
Murphy’s first 40 minutes of material centered around how his life has been altered in the last three years going from stand-up comic to TV star, to megabuck, movie star millionaire.
“My life is changing so much. . . I walk up on the stage today and it’s EDDIE MURPHY – WAAUUGGGHHH!!!”
He warned the audience of something they already knew: “I do a lot of controversial material. . . I have a filthy mouth on-stage because I have a filthy mouth off-stage.” That meant rough-talk about homosexuals, masturbation, “I Love Lucy,” and race relations.
“White people like you man,” Murphy claimed to have been told by prominent black leaders. “That’s a gift! You should use that. Turn that around. Start a revolution!” To which Murphy responds, “If I could do that, I’d be saying ‘Hey, white people! Go out and run into traffic!”
The show was going great guns as Murphy explained that he wasn’t afraid if Michael Jackson didn’t like his jokes about moonwalking, Brooke Shields or sexual preferences, (“I don’t think he’s got a strong right”), but the moment he went into an anti-cocaine, anti-freebasing message with “Clarence” in the front row, the act went into a tailspin.
Murphy brought his friend Clint Smith out and picked on him and two other friends. The jokes weren’t funny and seemed cruel.
The last 30 minutes wove around an embarrassingly inept tale of how Murphy got into a bar fight in California and was sued by everyone there. When he calls his father for consolation, the old man is drunk, and tells his son how his family was too poor to buy food or clothes when he was a child so the ate and wore toys.
At the story’s conclusion, Murphy introduced his father. Murphy then took a sip from a glass of cola he had onstage, offered it to a woman in the front row and said, “Now you have herpes, too!” With that, he dropped his microphone abruptly and walked off. There was no laughter or applause. The house lights came up and the show ended.
Rob Douglas, manager pf the Tierra Verde Comedy Club in south St. Petersburg, saw Murphy on opening night in Tallahassee and in Tampa. He thought the comedian was “a little less uneasy in Tampa” after being “almost intimidated by the audience, the size of the venue” in Tallahassee.
“The magic was never created,” Douglas commented on the performances. “There’s a certain rapport a comic has to achieve. You’ve really got to work the audience; it’s impossible to achieve a rapport in a room that size.”
Comedy Magazine publisher Ruth Erikson saw the Tampa show. “I think he spends a little too much time on one thing,” she said.
Editor Darlene Tottle agreed, “I liked more of his (‘Delirious’ tour), when he did James Brown and Stevie Wonder.”
It is difficult to compare the current Murphy tour to anything that has ever proceeded it in terms of comedy, but Steve Martin’s shows in the late ‘70s come to mind. Martin played to arenas and maintained a fulfilling show. He was as big then as Murphy is now, but Murphy needs to work out the kinks in the second half of performance and vary the material more.
• • •
Eddie Murphy gives a piece of his mind
By Bob Andelman
August 1, 1986
After a brief time out of public view, Eddie Murphy is coming back.
Later this year, he’ll be featured in “The Golden Child,” his first movie since the mega-grossing comedy “Beverly Hills Cop.”
And in August, he’ll be on an intensive, monthlong national comedy tour, including a return engagement at the University of South Florida Sun Dome on Aug. 24.
The Tribune telephoned Murphy’s personal manager, Bob Wachs, in Connecticut, to request an interview with the young comic.
Wachs seemed to think it was a pretty funny idea. He laughed.
“Not this time around,” he said before hanging up.
That’s what you said last year, Bob.
So we’re going to cheat.
What follows are selected words of wisdom, wit and whimsy by Eddie Murphy, culled mostly from interviews he has granted over the last few years, duly credited to the original source.
Through his own words, Murphy creates his own oral history and running commentary. The remarks are offered in sequence, as well.
“I don’t think I’ll do any serious acting,” Murphy told Newsweek in January of 1983.” ’48 HRS.’ is about as heavy as I want to get. The bug challenge for me is making somebody laugh…”
“I’m not a conservative-type black man,” he is overheard telling another black man in a July 1983 Rolling Stone story. “I wouldn’t be believable as a doctor or lawyer. I’m an aggressive black man…”
“The first time I saw ’48 HRS.’ I left the theater like a dope addict,” Murphy revealed to Rolling Stone in another story, this one in April 1984. “I was a sneak preview, and I snuck into the theater. They showed my name on the screen, and the audience clapped. I started freaking. I was on cloud nine for two weeks…”
“There just aren’t that many good scripts around,” Murphy announced to The New York Times in May, 1984, just after signing to star in “Beverly Hills Cop.” “I won’t do a film unless I can tell it’s going to be a hit just from reading the script…”
“It was greed,” he is quoted as saying in February 1985 edition of USA Today, in reference to his only cinematic flop, “Best Defense.” (Murphy was paid $1 million for the 20-minute role.)
“I want to do movie scores,” Murphy told Ebony in July 1985. “I want to do all that stuff. Charlie Chaplin used to write, direct, produce, star and score movies. That’s what I want to do.”
“Audiences can tell if you’re too confident. The like vulnerability – they like to think they’s really like you if they got to know you ..” (Newsweek, January 1983)
“A stand-up comic is sharing his life experiences with his audience and you can only experience so much in 23 years…
“Controversy fuels comedy. I can go out on stage now and easily do 10 or 15 minutes on all people who are angry with me all because of something in one or another of my routines. I admit that my comedy is controversial, but there’s no malice to it…
“I might open with a short stand-up routine, sing a song or two, do some impressions, all with a nice hot band playing behind me, and with lights, explosions, all the effects you seat a rock concert. I want to revolutionize standup comedy.” (The New York Times, 1984)
“I tell a good joke. But there’s no such thing as a comic genius. Genuises are people who do things with their brains – scientists, people with academic training. Not guys who play piano or make people laugh. I’d be the first to admit that I’m a very funny guy and the last to admit that I’m a genius.” (Newsweek, February 1985)
“I wanna apologize to the gay people – I’ve never really apologized. And to anyone who’s been offended by any kind of thing that I’ve done. To Lucy, to homosexuals, to Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason – to anyone who doesn’t agree: Sorry. A big wet kiss. [‘m just trying to get a laugh.” (Parade Magazine, February 1985)
“I do (impersonations of) People whose a- I can whip if they get mad at me. Like Michael Jackson. As talented as the guy is, I don’t think he has a strong overhand right…
“My life is changing so much … I walk up on the stage today and it’s EDDIE MURPHY – WAAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!!’ (From Murphy’s routine at the USF Sun Dome, Feb.28, 1985)
“I f- with everybody. I don’t give a s-t.” (California Magazine, May 1985)
“I can’t say I’m trying it out of boredom. It’s exciting to do what I already do. But singing is something I’ve always wanted to do … I’m wondering how the public is going to take this. I think they’re either going to love the fact that I’m singing, or they’ll hate it. If they hate it, I won’t sing anymore, except in my house.” (The New York Times, May 1984)
“You make mistakes in this career, and ‘Boogie in Your Butt’ was embarrassing to me. [t makes me angry when I look at that album.” (Ebony, July 1985)
“I can’t wait to leave. I don’t like the show (‘Saturday Night Live’),I don’t think the show is funny. I hate it.” (Rolling Stone, April 1984)
“Oh, I don’t want to do TV anymore. Artistically, it’s too restricting. There are too many things that you can’t do when you’re on television. You can’t say this. You can’t do that. You can’t mess up because you might turn these people off or you might offend those people. There’s no freedom, and it stifles the growth.” (Ebony, July I985)
“If somebody white called me ‘n-gg-r’ on the street I just laughed.” (Newsweek, January 1983)
“… I’m not a racist, I’m not a sexist; I’m just out there. I use racial slurs, but I don’t hate anybody.” (Rolling Stone, April 1984)
“‘White people like you. man.’ ” Murphy was told by prominent black leaders.
“‘That’s a gift! You should use that. Turn that around. Start a revolution!'” To which Murphy responds, “If I could do that, I’d be saying, ‘Hey, white people! Go out and run into traffic!'” (Murphy at the USF Sun Dome, February 1985)
Copyright 2018 by Bob Andelman