Black Men United: Eddie Murphy Assembles Legendary Black Comedians for SNL Opener

Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Kenan Thompson on the Dec. 21 edition of NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Kenan Thompson on the Dec. 21 edition of NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
Screenshot: NBC

Viewers should’ve known Eddie Murphy was going to pull out all the stops for his grand return to Saturday Night Live last night.

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But no one was expecting the comedy king to kick off his big comeback in such a big way – with the help of Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle and Kenan Thompson.

After his 35-year absence as host of the Emmy Award-winning sketch comedy series, Murphy was joined on stage by his younger brothers in comedy—representing the past and the present of the Lorne Michaels-created show.

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Morgan, who starred on SNL from 1996 to 2003, joined Murphy onstage offered him praise, calling him The Big Homie. “If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be here,” Morgan told him. “Like, literally. I was conceived on the Delirious tour bus.”

Rock, who did a three-year stint on the show before exploding as the
du jour stand up comedian and feature film star told Murphy that Michaels compared him to Murphy when he joined the show.

“When I got hired, Lorne told me, ‘You’re going to be the next Eddie Murphy,” Rock said.

“And then a year later he said, ‘No, you’re not,’” he quipped.

Chappelle, who won an Emmy Award for his 2016 SNL hosting gig, told Murphy he had been an inspiration. “I followed your blueprint for my entire career,” Chappelle said. “I became the biggest star on television and then I quit,” he deadpanned about his ill-fated Comedy Central deal.

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The A Star Is Born actor, who lit a cigarette on stage, then joked, “Right now you’re looking at half of Netflix’s budget, right here on stage.”

Chapelle, Murphy and Chris Rock all have huge deals with the popular streaming platform.

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Morgan interjected: “Not me. I made all my millions on the road.”

Murphy asked, “You mean touring?”

“No, I got hit by a truck,” he replied, referring to his multimillion-dollar settlement with Walmart when one of its tractor-trailer trucks collided with the limo bus he and his entourage were driving. The six-car accident left Morgan in critical condition and one person dead.

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Current and longtime SNL cast member Kenan Thompson also appeared on the stage to get in on the fun. And don’t sleep on the former Good Burger actor. He’s no slouch; the longest-tenured cast member of SNL—over 16 years—has earned his place among the comedic greats.

The former Nickelodeon star has a deal in play for his own eponymous NBC sitcom, produced by Lorne Michaels and Chris Rock, who is also set to direct.

The in-studio audience welcomed Murphy, 58, back to the stage, chanting “Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!”

The Brooklyn native starred in the series from 1980-84, but left for a flourishing movie career featuring blockbusters like 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Boomerang, The Nutty Professor, Shrek and his acclaimed dramatic turns in Dreamgirls and Netflix’s Dolemite is My Name.

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Alongside a string of other accolades, the Black Film Critics Circle voted the Craig Brewer-helmed Rudy Ray Moore biopic, which is also playing in select theaters, as its Best Film of 2019.

A proud father of 10, Murphy couldn’t miss an opportunity to get a dig at Bill Cosby, who was one of his harshest critics during his 1980s ascent in standup comedy.

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“If you had told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring stay-at-home house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail, even I would have took that bet,” Murphy quipped before slipping into his Cosby impersonation, and asking, “Who is America’s Dad now?”

Bloop!

Hailing from "the thorough borough" of Brooklyn, Mr. Daniels has written for The New York Times, Associated Press, CNN, Essence, VIBE, NBC News, The Daily Beast, The New York Daily News and Word Up!

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DISCUSSION

Gumby was brilliant. I mean it was classic Eddie. Off the rails, funny and unsure of where it was going to land. I mean calling Jost “Headshot” was beyond brilliant. I have already seen Hotep’s calling Eddie a “tool of the establishment” for his Cosby comments. I will be brief: Bill Cosby spent years detailing black America’s flaws for all to hear, specifically white folks, and Murphy was one of his most frequent targets. Now this is the hill you want to die on? Defending Bill Cosby? God bless you all. it was a great night and the ratings proved it.