Once considered the funniest man in America, Eddie Murphy has kept things very serious over the past several years. He earned an Oscar nomination for going dark in Dreamgirls. He opted out of what would have been an epic Bill Cosby takedown on SNL40 to instead deliver a sincere monologue devoid of jokes. And this coming week, he stars in the genuine tearjerker Mr. Church.
But all of that may be about to change, as Murphy demonstrated during a hilarious appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. As the host pointed out, it has been almost a year since Murphy was given the Mark Twain Prize for Humor at the Kennedy Center and delivered a speech that was the closest thing to stand-up he had done in years. On that stage, he did break into his Cosby impression, joking that the organization may want to revoke that comedian’s prize now that he is best known as an (alleged) serial rapist.
Asked by Kimmel if he heard from Cosby after that event, Murphy gave him a look like he was insane and said, “Oh, no,” before adding that he’s “not frightened of Bill.” Murphy insisted that speech did not count as stand-up and if he were going to do it for real, it would require going back into clubs and really working out new material.
When Kimmel said, “You’re not doing that stuff,” Murphy replied, “But I might,” as the audience began to applaud. “I haven’t done it in so long, and I’m curious now in that so much has changed. I’m like, what would even come out? I don’t know what I would even be like.” Referring to the infamous outfit he wore on his concert special Raw, he added, “I don’t have any leather suits anymore.”
What Murphy would be like as a stand-up comedian in 2016 remains an open question, and one that many of his fans would like answered. He was undeniably funny throughout his interview with Kimmel, who seemed eager to pull every ounce of comedy he could out of his guest.
The major highlight of the appearance occurred when Kimmel brought up Tracy Morgan, either intentionally or inadvertently setting Murphy up for another uncanny impression of a fellow comedian. Morgan has said Murphy was the first one to make him laugh after his near-death highway accident a couple of years ago.
“I love Tracy,” Murphy said before breaking into his impression of Morgan, telling the story of how he made the recovering comedian “ballpark franks.” He added, “And when I was younger, they used to call me fat Murphy.”
"Everybody imitates Tracy Morgan,” Kimmel marveled. “That's easily the best Tracy Morgan imitation I've ever seen!"