“I started out as an impressionist and that’s all about observing – how people move, their voice quality, their attitudes and quirks.” – Eddie Murphy
Happy birthday Eddie!
When I was a kid my sister had recorded “Eddie Murphy: Raw”, “48 hours” & “Beverly Hills Cop” on VHS and I watched those over and over and over again. Back then “Raw” was funny as hell, but watching it now he expressed some things about homosexuals that I feel aren’t cool. Just so you’re prepared if you’re thinking about watching it!
I recently rewatched his appearance on “Inside the Actors Studio”.
At the end one audience member asked Eddie about what advice he would give to black and/or female actors. His answer was simply: “The advice I would give to someone is to not take anyone’s advice.”
Eddie explained why by telling a story about an encounter with Rodney Dangerfield. Apparently Rodney told Eddie to “mind his language” referring to Eddie’s veritable smorgasbord of curse words and ethnic slurs.
Eddie started doubting himself but slowly came over it since he saw that the audience’s reactions were positive. He later met Rodney after having some success with “Saturday Night Live” and all Rodney could say was: “Huh, who knew?”.
When we know the story we understand that the actual advice is to know when to take advice and when not to take advice. That’s why statements like “don’t take advice” can be dangerous without the proper context.
During the interview Eddie also dropped a lot of insights into his creative process so if you want the full monty check out the interview!
One thing I found interesting was when Eddie talked about how he didn’t know how to act when holding a gun.
His solution was simple but elegant. It’s not something you think about when you see Eddie in action. But once you know this and check out the scenes where he’s holding a gun, you can’t unsee it.
Eddie told James Lipton that all he did was to imitate Bruce Lee. Pure and simple. Since it’s Eddie and he’s in a completely different context than what we usually see Bruce Lee in we don’t necessarily think about it. But once he said it and I saw a couple of clips it was like: “Yeah, wow… That’s it!”.
This wasn’t the only instance of “stealing” he spoke about, he recounted various tales about when he lifted other actors & comics styles in his stand up and movies. The wonderful thing was that he was absolutely shameless about it!
So many of us tend to get hung up on trying to be original instead of letting our influences hang out there. We always build on what’s come before. We should really embrace that!
Another example I recently saw was on Robert Rodriguez’s show “The Director’s Chair” where he interviewed John Carpenter. During the program he showed some clips where he’d “stolen” some stuff from John Carpenter’s movie “Escape from New York”. John was completely cool with it, he said something like “as long as you don’t take too much it’s OK.” Check out the video here.
When I saw the movie “Top 5” by Chris Rock it got me thinking about whether it was a subtle hint to Eddie Murphy to get back in the stand-up game. From what I’ve seen so far it doesn’t seem to want to come together.
When he was asked whether or not he’d do stand-up again Eddie said that he gets that question a lot and some days he really wants to and some days he doesn’t. The biggest deterrent for him is the time and amount of work that goes into it. He’d have to start with no material, go to clubs 3-4 nights a week and polish his act.
I can understand that in his current situation that might not be in his or his family’s best interest to do. It would be weird and wonderful to hear what he can offer us some 25 years after his last stand up.
There were some reports a couple of weeks back that Eddie did in fact go on stage at “The Comedy Store” but that he didn’t perform. There was also a tweet by Arsenio Hall that later got deleted:
– Arsenio Hall (@ArsenioHall) March 20, 2015
So, we’ll see what happens with that in the future. It sure as hell would be interesting!
“If you have a flop movie, so what? And if you have a hit movie, it’s ‘so what,’ too – it’s on to the next movie.” – Eddie Murphy