Eddie Murphy is hosting Saturday Night Live this week. A comedy showcase is the last thing he should be doing. He was a cast member once – but that was before he died.
Not that SNL is all that funny anyway. It’s hit and miss like it always has been, but it tends to get a boost from truly funny hosts – or better yet hosts who are not known for comedy. Because that can end up being funny.
A lot of the time the sketches are lame. And unless you find the mere act of people imitating politicians to be funny, laughs are often hard to come by. But that’s always been the case with the show. It proves how tough sketch comedy is because these people are supposedly the best at it but most of the time they kind of suck.
But the story isn’t how unfunny SNL is.
It’s how unfunny Eddie Murphy is. Which is shocking for one reason: Murphy was pure genius at the beginning of his career, and then in what should have been his prime, he fell off a comedy cliff.
From 1982-1984 Murphy was IT. Trading Places, 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop. Wow (He was even funny on SNL). We were seeing something special. A fresh, unique, charismatic, hilarious new movie star. And he had star written all over him.
Then, somehow, with seemingly one bad decision (1986’s abomination The Golden Child), Eddie Murphy the comedic genius move star was bludgeoned to death, never to be seen again. Oh, we saw Eddie again after that – or whatever lifeless entity took over his body – but he was never the same.
It was kind of like watching Peyton Manning’s last season with the Broncos. Manning had completely lost it as a football player, yet there he was still trying to play football. He even “won” the Super Bowl (well, the defense won it for him, while everyone else tried to politely look away every time Peyton tried to do anything). That’s Eddie Murphy’s comedy career after 1984. But at least Manning was at the end of his career – Murphy was YOUNG, just entering what should have been his PRIME.
Which has led to decades of watching Eddie awkwardly try to regain his form. Imagine if Manning had kept playing football for years after he stunk. Hard to watch.
Sure there’s been a chuckle here and there. But this is not the same guy. We’ve been politely averting our eyes when he tries to be funny for going on 35 years. 35 years!
Even when he does something good, he still isn’t funny. Take Netflix’s well-reviewed Dolemite Is My Name. It may be a good movie, and it may even have a good performance from Murphy. You know what it doesn’t have? A funny performance from Murphy. He can’t even generate a genuinely funny moment for the trailer. The trailer! That means they scoured all the footage shot for the movie and couldn’t find a really funny joke from Murphy. Here:
If he hadn’t teased us with genius in the early 80s it would be fine. He’d be just another not-that-funny comedian/TV/movie star forced down our throat by Hollywood. Like Ben Stiller or Cedric “The Entertainer”.
But Murphy was something special once. Which unfortunately makes it painfully obvious that he is not anymore. Because the real Eddie Murphy died in 1985.
So SNL this week will be a disaster.