That’s right. You appeared in 1990’s Mo’ Better Blues, starred in 1993’s CB4 and 1998’s Player’s Club. Which of your films are you most proud of?
My favorite of all the films that I’ve been in and the movie I’m the proudest of is Harlem Nights. In that film you had three generations of ‘Hall of Fame’ comedians: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, the late great Robin Harris. There is no comedian that can say, ‘I starred in a movie and did a scene with Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Redd Foxx.’ Nobody else in the game can say that—just me. Now, is that widely known? Is that widely talked about? No. But as a comedian for me to able to say that is very much a thing of distinction, it’s a big deal.
Your standup concert, Charlie Murphy: I Will Not Apologize is a big hit. When it was released on DVD, it was number 1 in the nation for four weeks. Then when it debuted on Comedy Central two weeks later in February 2010 it was #1 in it’s time slot (with the highest ratings the network enjoyed since January 2009.) Just curious, why did you film that particular show in Boston?
I have built up a large and loyal following in Boston over the years. One year in either 2005 or 2006 I had a show there, but there was a blizzard and I thought the show was gonna be canceled. They shut the airports down and it virtually shut down the whole town because the snow was coming down so crazy. But the show still went on and it was sold out. Everyone showed up. And when I was on stage I felt guilty because I was looking out this huge window and thinking, ‘Wow all I have to do is walk across the street to get back to my room. These people have to get in their car and drive to their houses wherever they may be in the city of Boston.’ And they weren’t even concerned. So when it’s was time [to film a concert] for a DVD I went back to Boston and shot it there I had a lot of fun.
Your standup career started at age 42. Despite your work in film and television over the years why does it remain so important to you?
I’ve been doing standup to support myself for ten years straight. I didn’t get a windfall of money from movies or TV after Chappelle’s Show. I got a windfall of money from standup comedy. And if it wasn’t for standup, when I look at the money I’ve made from movies and TV I would be struggling now. But because of standup comedy I’m all right and I thank God for that.
You and Eddie collaborated on Vampire in Brooklyn, and on Norbit, where you both served as screenwriters. Do you guys have any plans to star in a film together?
Eddie does movies and I do movies so eventually the right thing will come [around]. At the moment, I’m concentrating on getting this hour [of standup] sharp that I’m working on. People like me and they think I’m funny. They laugh or whatever, but for me as an artist I’m looking for much more from myself right now.