As Eddie Murphy nears his return to stand-up comedy, the legendary comedian reflected on his career-shifting stand-up special, Raw, and how he has evolved since then.
“There was a time when I was at the center of everything, what I was doing, and how funny I was and how popular,” Murphy told the New York Times in a new interview where he spoke about his upcoming comedy tour. “I’m not at the center. Now my kids are and everything revolves around them.”
The 58-year-old father of 10 has toned things down since Raw made its debut in 1987. Although the film was a hit at the box office, Murphy received backlash over some of his jokes, namely about gay men and AIDS. The criticism prompted him to issue an public apology nearly a decade later, and fueled his hiatus from stand-up comedy.
Today, Murphy admits that he was “kind of an a**hole” back then. “I was a young guy processing a broken heart.”
His return to comedy comes in the age of “cancel culture,” but the native New Yorker isn’t worried because he’s already been down that road. “I went through that stuff, so this is not scary.”
Murphy is gearing up for a string of new projects including his highly anticipated film, Dolemite Is My Names, which debuts in select theaters on Oct. 4 and premieres on Netflix on Oct. 25. In December, Murphy is billed to host Saturday Night Live for the first time in over three decades. Next year will bring the release of Coming 2 America 2, and Murphy’s comedy tour.
“I’m kind of looking at this period as a bookend,” he said. “I hadn’t been back to ‘SNL,’ let’s fix that. Let’s do stand-up again. That way, when I finally just sit on the couch, then it’s good.”
Though he won’t be slipping back into his infamous leather suits for the comedy tour, Murphy has been recording jokes for the last three years. But the content in his will be different from his early work. “I’m mushier than I used to be,” he said noting that he now has a “whole lifetime of experiences to draw upon.”