The Nitty Gritty

But more than all of those I am an entertainer. I carry around a ukulele with me for the same reason a gangster carries a gun; better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Stage or sidewalk, Your Pal Pete shows are just where they happen.
Currently, I'm working on a musical, RagnaPOP(or she's got the bomb), set to premiere at this year's Capital Fringe Festival. I'm also working on music, comedy, and musical comedy; for kids and/or adults.
The fruit of these projects will be available on this site, so check back regularly!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Kids Don't Understand Eddie Murphy

This is the first of a series of articles that I'm writing for eventual submission for a certain website. I wanted to blog it first.
Life is long and things change. Seeing the career paths of some of the biggest stars and greatest artists of my younger days careened down paths that are odd, ill advised and downright bizarre, especially considering their early promise. These folks are still famous mind you, but... you don't understand!
1. Eddie Murphy
You don't understand: Before he became the first break-out star of the second era of Saturday Night Live, he was an underutilized "featured" player during the disasterous 1980-81 tenure of producer Jean Doumanian. Her replacement, Dick Ebersol, didn't make the same mistake and took the cast's suggestion to make Murphy a regular cast member. From then until his departure in early 1984, it became the de-facto "Eddie Murphy Show" almost single-handedly save the show from cancellation with his singular talent. The show relied on him to the point when Nick Nolte cancelled an SNL apperance, they simply had Eddie go up and do stand-up. And he killed, as he always did.

From his comedy albums to his HBO specials, he was a almost supernaturally gifted comedian with easy charisma to spare. He made sure that when he made his inevitable move to movies that he wrote his own dialog, even making complete and utter crap like The Golden Child minor classics to his many fans. There seemed to be nothing keeping him from being as major star as long as he wanted to be.

What went wrong?: Harlem Nights. It was probably the most can't-miss formula you could imagine at the time: Eddie Murphy stars, writes and directs three generations of comedy legends (His idol Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx); how can they go wrong? Alphabetically or in order of importance? Pryor's sleepwalking performance, the ugly script too reliant on profanity and misogyny? The tone is set in the first scene when Murphy's character as a child shoots a guy in the head; the shootings outnumber the laughs and are much more memorable. Instead of bouncing back, he just digged the hole deeper with lazy sequels from his do-no-wrong past like Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours or crap that he didn't even try to save, like Boomerang or Vampire In Brooklyn.

How the kids know him: Starring in movies where he either gets hit in the nuts, wears a fat suit, or both. Any career juice he might have gained for his Oscar-nominated turn in Dreamgirls dried up quickly with his new-low follow-up Norbit.
The Onion posted a picture of Murphy in his fat-suited performance of Norbit's wife Rasputia with the caption "Eddie Murphy get paid $20 million to fuck himself." They were right in more ways than one.

If you want to learn: get anything, ANYTHING you can from his pre-Harlem Nights days, with the exception of Best Defense. Murphy's shoehorned role as a "Strategic Guest Star" was way too little to save this "alleged" comedy starring another once great comic actor going through his own decline, Dudley Moore.

Tomorrow: Steve Martin

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