It was Saturday Night Live that first introduced the world to the talents of Eddie Murphy, and later this year he will finally return to host the show for the first time since 1984. It’s a reunion too long in the making, given that he was arguably the greatest cast member in show history. (Thanks, David Spade). Before Murphy makes his way back to Studio 8H, we’re looking back at some of his best characters, impressions, and sketches on SNL.
“White Like Me”
This pre-taped mockumentary, where Murphy goes undercover as a white man and discovers that white people act differently when they are “alone,” is as timely and funny today as it was in 1984.
It’s still amazing he was able to take an old racist caricature from a kid’s show and turn him into an hysterical recurring figure on SNL. Buckwheat might be Eddie Murphy’s most popular character from his time in Studio 8H, and yet SNL barely has any sketches with him uploaded. That is not “o’tay.”At least you can watch this brief jeans commercial starring Buckwheat here.
The idea of Gumby as a real “person” who is incredibly angry and entitled seems like it’d come off as stupid. Instead it’s one of Murphy’s best creations. He made the catchphrase, “I’m Gumby, dammit!” hilarious and memorable, and probably more famous than the original Gumby.
Little Richard Simmons
A Wheel of Fortune “Before and After” category come to life, combining Little Richard and Richard Simmons into one high energy impression, let Eddie show off twice as much as normal. You can see him in all his dancing, singing, and workout action here.
James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party
It’s one thing to do a dead-on, 100% committed impression of music legend James Brown. It’s another to do it around the absurd premise of him getting into a hot tub in two minutes of comedy perfection.
Murphy’s gay hairdresser Dion Dion does feel a little dated in 2019, but Murphy’s all-in performance isn’t. While later sketches focused on Dion trying to sleep with famous black celebrities, we love his first appearance on the talk show Hairem Scarem. He’s revealed to be a wig store owner and likely hair thief. You can watch it here.
Raheem Abdul-Muhammed and Tyrone Green
A recurring “Weekend Update” guest, Raheem Abdul Muhammed managed to capture black anger and frustration with white America with a smile, but that didn’t make it any less funny. Of course, his prison poet Tyrone Green was just as funny while being a lot more direct.
John David Stutts
Unquestionably one of the best sketches in show history, a multi-part breaking news parody of Buckwheat being shot, involved Eddie Murphy playing two characters. He was not only the famous victim, but also his assassin John David Stutts, a man who couldn’t help but confess every chance he got. You will never laugh harder at the words, “Oh sure.” You can watch it here.
Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood
While offering a different take on Mister Rogers, Mister Robinson was still kind and friendly. He just so happened to also be an ex-con who taught kids important lessons, like how to avoid paying rent and swindling stupid people.
Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder Duet
Eddie Murphy’s impression of Stevie Wonder is responsible for what is arguably Joe Piscopo’s greatest sketch, wherein Frank Sinatra helps come up with a new (much more enjoyable) take on “Ebony and Ivory.” Murphy’s Stevie Wonder remains one of the most impressive impressions in the annals of SNL.
Good news: this isn’t the best sketch involving Eddie Murphy doing his Stevie Wonder impression. That came when Stevie Wonder was actually on the show playing a Stevie Wonder impersonator himself. Eddie Murphy kept trying to “teach him” how to do Stevie right. The bad news: this sketch doesn’t exist online; we just have the briefest of snippets to hint at how incredible it was.
Hey Saturday Night Live, we’ve waited a long time for Eddie Murphy to come back to the show. Don’t make us wait much longer to share more of his old sketches online.
Featured Image: NBC