Among the skits that made "Chappelle's Show" a massive hit for Comedy Central, and the best-selling TV DVD series of all time, were Charlie Murphy's "True Hollywood Stories."
Murphy had been in the public eye for years. He appears in ’90s blockbusters “CB4” and “Jungle Fever,” and he wrote “Vampire in Brooklyn,” among other things. But it was his creatively embellished stories about bizarre brushes with celebs that made him a household name like younger brother Eddie.
Chances are a particular, Rick James-inspired catch phrase from one such tale just came to mind. You know, the one your annoying friend wouldn’t stop quoting back in 2005.
“That was my segue into stand-up comedy,” said Murphy, 50, Saturday night’s main attraction at Seattle’s Moore Theatre. “That’s what made it OK for Charlie Murphy to do stand-up comedy.”
But the transition wasn’t easy. We caught up to talk about his recent run and overcoming doubters:
I was going to ask you about the most inappropriate time someone has come up and done the Rick James line. But apparently you get “Charlie Murphyyyyyyy” more.
Yeah, I don’t get the Rick James thing. I get my name. I won’t ever get tired of that.
On the DVD (“I Will Not Apologize”) you say you’ve even had a homeless guy doing it. So at this point it’s probably nonstop.
Homeless people do it all the way up to Wall Street.
It sounds like you’re having fun with it. But at the same time, do you get tired of people yelling at you?
When I want a quiet moment I just go home. … People don’t even know you, they’re yelling your name out and they’re happy (and you) just made their day just showin’ up. That’s a good feeling.
You actually started doing stand-up comedy later in life (at 42). Tell me about the transition.
To other comedians, (me doing stand-up) was the biggest joke in the game. You’re Eddie’s older brother. You’re gonna wait almost 25 years later to go, “Oh, guess what, y’all. I got jokes. Yeah, right.” Who would believe that? And I wouldn’t believe it either if I was one of them.
The same people that sit back and say Charlie Murphy is not good, they don’t put in a fraction of the work that I put into comedy. … You may tell the same joke for 15 years, but you’re gonna point over at me and say, “I’m not impressed.” C’mon, man.
It sounds like you took it as a challenge.
Oh, I absolutely took it as a challenge – absolutely. (I’m) a hard-core student of the game with mad respect for the game, mad respect for what my brother accomplished in it, as well as other people that I know and admire and respect in comedy, like Chris Rock, D.L. Hughley. I have to pay homage and respect that. For me to show up and settle for mediocrity is (disrespectful) to all of that.
What’s the best piece of advice that Eddie has given you over the years?
Never, ever get gassed up and think that you can’t get beat. Never, ever assume that you’ve got this to the point that whenever I walk out there it’s gonna go my way. Always go out there assuming that it’s not gonna go your way. Always go out there humble, not telling the audience “respect me,” but persuading them to respect you as they watch you. A humble man can never get humiliated, man.
Prince has pretty much acknowledged the basketball story from “Chappelle’s Show” was pretty much true, but they didn’t wear the Revolution outfits. Who would win the rematch? I think he had a hip replacement or something.
Yeah, exactly. That answers your question. … I’m in perfect medical condition. When that thing happened, all of us were drunk. He beat you at basketball while you was drunk? That’s not funny. He beat you at basketball at your best – that’s hilarious. So that’s the way it was presented.
It’s kind of weird thinking of Prince doing normal things, such as playing basketball.
It is, but he does play basketball. He used to, anyway. That guy was in phenomenal shape.
If you think about his last show, it took a lot of energy to do that show, man; splits, jumpin’ off giant speakers; runnin’ all over the stage, slidin’ on your knees. That takes a lot out of you, man. And he’s paying for it now. I give him his props … ’cause I know if I jumped off a speaker with high-heeled shoes I’d have broken ankles.
Ernest Jasmin: 253-274-7389