Comedian Eddie Murphy was a stand-up comedy giant in the early 1980s before he broke through big in films like “Trading Places,” “48 Hrs.” and “Beverly Hills Cop”. Two of his most famous stand-up concerts, “Delirious” in 1983 and “Raw” in 1987, were major hits on cable and video and the latter did very well theatrically.
More than thirty years later, TMZ is reporting that Murphy is now negotiating a massive deal for an undisclosed number of comedy specials at Netflix that would earn him roughly $70 million (though that could fluctuate).
The report comes after Murphy’s recent appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” where he was asked about doing stand up again to which he said: “I’m gonna do it again. Yeah, everything just has to be right. I gotta get up there and start working out. I have to get up and work. The only way to work out an act is to go to clubs and work out. I’m gonna do that again.”
While there definitely will be an interest, the question is will they be overshadowed by the problematic content of the old ones? Unlike someone such as George Carlin whose routines involving the ridiculousness of language remain relatively timeless, Murphy’s work in stand-up and, to a lesser extent on film pre-1990s, fell back heavily on disparaging both women and the LGBT community.
Both the previous specials were criticised for their egregious sexism, attacks on AIDS victims, and flagrant homophobia – jokes that were rough even by the less enlightened standards of the 1980s. In the mid-1990s, Murphy publicly apologised for his routines, putting it down to them being the ramblings of a misinformed 21-year-old man. Murphy’s attempts at recompense since have been seemingly sincere and he was hardly the only comedian relying on such material, and some of them have remained unapologetic about it.
Nevertheless the legacy of those specials remains which will make some understandably approach this possibility with caution and scepticism. Murphy has mostly been doing family comedies the past two decades, with the occasional dip into more dramatic fare like “Dreamgirls” in 2006 and the recently wrapped “Dolemite Is My Name”. He is currently shooting “Coming 2 America” which sees him returning to his iconic 1988 comedy role of Prince Akeem. He’s also being joined by his former co-star Arsenio Hall.