Eddie Murphy Raw Cover
Now what do the following four expressions have in common? ‘Heee-Heee-Hee’ – ‘Mother f*cker’ – ‘I was funny once’ – and ‘Suck my d*ck, my mustache is real!’. Well, if you want to know the answer to this question, please watch this 93 minute stand-up performance made in 1987.

Eddie Murphy Raw

Picture the scene – an afro-American family are huddled together within their suburban dwelling, all of them enjoying the entertainment that is on offer. The men are playing cards – the women are in the kitchen – and one of the Uncles (Samuel L Jackson) is watching the children performing in front him. Now one of these children is a young Eddie Murphy, a person who is suddenly transformed into a man, and then performs his live stand up show in New York City's Felt Forum – a venue in the Madison Square Garden complex.

In fine form, Eddie takes to the stage and regales his audience on such topics of note as – celebrity culture – divorce – infidelity – the nature of women and men – family values – the film ‘Rocky 2’ – as well as his parents behavior. What now follows is a selection of quotes’ from this show:

  • On the Moonwalk – “How can you do that sh*t and ask a woman to dance?”.
  • On Richard Pryor’s rebuttal to Bill Cosby’s distain for Eddies work – “Do people laugh? Yes. Do you get paid? Yes. Then tell the mother f*cker to shut the hell up”.
  • On Mothers – I'm sadistic. I go to the supermarkets to watch mothers lose it and beat the shit out of their kids”.
  • On Conniving Women – “Be careful of that sh*t – because they cater to your ego”.
  • On White People Dancing – “White people can't dance. I'm not being racist; it's true. Just like when white people say that black people have big lips, it's not racist; it's true too. Black people have big lips, white people can't dance. Some brothers will be in the club and white people are like, ‘What are those niggers doing in here?’. They watching y'all dance. And they're like, ‘Look at these crazy mother f*ckers’. Y'all be stepping on people's feet and hitting one another”.
  • On Shy B*tches – “I don’t trust them – they are shy because they have too many skeletons in their closet”.  
  • On His Own Physical Prowess – “I can’t fight, but I can act as if I can fight”.
  • On Scare Tactics – “Its always looks good if you can rhyme with your name. I say ‘Don’t mess with Ed... or... hmm... you’ll be dead?’”.
  • On Paraphrasing His Own Fathers Humble Origins – “I had eleven brothers and sisters in my family, Eddie, and my father worked at the Toy factory and earned 13 cents a week. That’s not a lot of money for a family, Eddie – we ate the Toys”.

Once Eddie finishes his show, he bows to his audience, strikes a pose, before he slinks off into the great beyond.

Now I remember the buzz about ‘Eddie Murphy: Raw’ when I was still a kid at school. Well, it was one of those things that the ‘cool guys’ saw and teased us with - as if this stand-up comedy performance was somehow a status symbol or something. Granted, at the time, I was very intrigued to find out what the fuss was all about - and so I persuaded a friend of mine to come with me to pinch this video from a convenience store. OK, not the best thing to try to do - given my present benefit of hindsight. Still, nothing ever came of this endeavor - except for a story that I can now rely to you, so I can introduce you to this review.

Eddie Murphy in the eighties
So – Eddie Murphy and this forbidden pleasure – was it worth the wait? Err – kind of. As on the one hand, there were some genuinely funny moments to this piece – especially witnessing Eddie’s talent for mimicry. Whereas on the other hand, some segments seemed to drag on for a bit too long, and the substance and structure of the show was a mite unnerving, considering what has happened to Eddie in the intermediate years.

Now to illustrate what I mean by this, please allow me to give you a conceptual break down of this film. Firstly, a pre-produced family segment that conveyed Eddie’s home life as a child was on display – which I liked, as it gave the overall presentation some gravitas, and it was nice to see Samuel L Jackson at a different time also. Then, the ‘stand-up’ segment started proper, in which Eddie commented on celebrity culture, as well as what was said about his previous show ‘Delirious’ – I liked this also, especially Eddies mimicry skills. Next, Eddie did a rather lengthy routine about Women and the nature of promiscuity – which went on a tad too long for my liking, because some of the jokes were too flat, and the nature of his performance was slightly bigoted overall. And finally, Eddie did a wild monologue that meandered back and forth between stereo types, his parents, the after-effects of the film ‘Rocky 2’, and the law – which was good, hazy, but good.

Eddie Murphy in Raw

OK, I know that it may appear that after saying what I have just said, that I was mainly disappointed with the ‘promiscuity’ segment of Eddie’s show – which I am largely. However, there are also a number of other ‘crude snags’ that kept on creeping into his work, which did not really put Eddie in his best light.

Eddie Murphy Magazine
Primarily, I would have liked some more variation in his work, especially in the more positive aspects of what appears to be at the centre of his comedy. For example, when Eddie does Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby, or his family on stage – he seems to shine.  But when he does his ‘Women hating stuff’ – his charm fades, and he ends up coming across as a pimp of some kind. Fair enough, I know that I should not be judging ‘Eddie Murphy: Raw’ from a 2011 perspective – though that is not to say that some of his wares are not of the single facetted variety.

Overall, I am pleased that I watched ‘Eddie Murphy: Raw’ after all this time, but I am just as pleased that I did not pinch it when I was a kid.

Kind of.