Culture of Pop

Top 50 Stand-Up Comedians: No. 6 – Eddie Murphy


Image courtesy of YouTube.

Well, hello there.

My name is Drew Creasman and I used to be a regular contributor here at Hardwood and Hollywood. Almost exactly a year ago, however, I got an awesome job offer to cover the Colorado Rockies regularly for BSN Denver and that immediately became my primary, secondary, and thirdiary focus.

Unfortunately, that means I left my peeps here – both editors and readers – hanging a bit. See, I had just finished publishing my list of the Top Comic Book Adaptations of All Time and was nearing the end of a list of the Top Stand-Up Comedians of All Time. Finishing the latter list became a task that kept getting kicked down the road … until now.

So after one year of leaving the list hanging at No. 7, I present the Top 6 beginning with:

No. 6: Eddie Murphy

Believe it or not kids, there was a time when Eddie Murphy was the “Raw”est man on the planet. Long before he was Donkey – much love for Donkey (and Mushu from Mulan!) – and generally consigned to doing kid-friendly material, Murphy was making a name as one of the most foul-mouthed, and damn hilarious, comedians in the game.

He was the first, and in many ways still the very best, stand-up comedian to make the jump to Blockbuster big screen comedies with an absurd string of hits that included the Beverly Hills Cop series, Coming to America, and Trading Places. Just to name a few. Those are all classics that (mostly) hold up today.

And if you happened to get your comedy not from stand-up or movies, but instead from television sketch comedy, there was Murphy carrying Saturday Night Live with some all-time memorable performances. The 80s simply belonged to Eddie Murphy.

“Raw” and “Delirious” remain two of the greatest stand-up specials ever and no amount of Norbit can erase that. He may be more widely known for his odd, Dr. Doolittle and Nutty Professor-type fare, but anyone who saw Murphy before that phase of his career will forever remember him as the baddest dude in comedy for a very long time. It’s frustrating at times for those who prefer his raunchier stuff, but it is a testament to his range that Murphy can claim to have held the crown in R-rated, as well as G-rated, comedy at one point decades apart.

This is a list that is only taking stand-up into account, which Murphy has done far less lately, but his overall material still stands the test of time. The cookout story (at about the 14-minute mark in the video below) is practically a blueprint for how to tell a great story on a stage. A lack of recent stand-up just barely keeps him out of the Top 5.

But there is no conversation about comedy in any medium that is complete without naming the astounding contributions of Eddie Murphy.

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