02/22/15 by Rennie Detore
Chris Rock took the stage at the 40th anniversary of "Saturday Night Live" and delivered an appropriate and stirring tribute directed at Eddie Murphy, one of the key ingredients that helped the sketch comedy show live beyond the 1980s and actually have the ability to celebrate four decades of success.
Murphy is arguably the most important cast member in the show's history as Rock stated because the show was starting to turn for the worse, and then Murphy saved the day with his humor and star power.
That same star power sadly was missing from Murphy's appearance on SNL 40 as the long time funny man was anything but that. He graciously accepted the adulation from the crowd and actually made a joke (that many missed) when he started clapping and walked toward Rock and said, "let's keep it going for Eddie Murphy."
Yes, that was moderately amusing, but then Murphy told the crowd how much he appreciated the show and what it did for his career, then basically ran out of things to say as the show oddly went to commercial break.
In days following the awkwardness that was Murphy, critics questioned why the "Beverly Hills Cop" star didn't do more than take praise and then leave. Comedian and fellow SNL alum Norm MacDonald shed a little light on Murphy's speech when he revealed that Murphy turned down a chance to poke fun at Bill Cosby as part of the "Jeopardy" skit.
Murphy said he didn't want to "kick a man when he's down" referring to Cosby and the plethora of allegations against the iconic TV star as it relates to his altercations with women that date back several decades.
Oddly, Murphy's holier than the joke approach isn't so much surprising when you consider his career path. Murphy isn't the same guy from "Beverly Hills Cop" or his stand up act. He's become part of the Hollywood machine that churns out PG friendly fare that typically is received with lukewarm box office numbers and tepid reviews from critics.
Murphy isn't a draw at the movies quite frankly, and his decision to turn down the Cosby spoof shows that his once edgy persona is no more. Granted, no actor of Murphy's ilk can simply keep doing the "Trading Places" and "Coming to America" type movies forever; he's supposed to grow as an actor as his gets older.
And that's what Murphy has done with little to no fanfare as far as ticket sales. That's his choice, and he's probably fine with that decision. The real joke, however, is Murphy acting as though he's too important or classy to poke fun at Cosby. If that's the case, why didn't he recreate "Mr Robinson's Neighborhood" or his Stevie Wonder impersonation? Seriously, Adam Sandler returned as "Opera Man," and he has made more money than Murphy over the course of his career. Bill Murray is a full fledged movie star but that didn't stop him from doing his Nick Ocean bit.
The truth is Murphy isn't funny anymore, and what happened on SNL 40, that terribly bland showing, only proves that point. Murphy didn't say anything but he has nothing relevant to say, and perhaps can no longer be funny on cue in front of a live audience.
Stick to the movies where you play five characters at once, no one goes to watch and even less are laughing. That's Eddie Murphy today, and expecting anything more at the SNL 40 reunion was remarkably optimistic.
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