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Eddie Murphy reflects on Raw: "I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an asshole"

Photo: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

It’s rare to see a comeback as hyped (and publicly advertised) as Eddie Murphy’s. Next month will see the wide release of his already much-lauded Rudy Ray Moore biopic, Dolemite Is My Name, which he’ll follow in December by hosting SNL for the first time in 35 years. Then there’s that multi-million Netflix deal he inked, an upcoming theater tour, and a Coming to America sequel that’s well underway. Suffice to say, it’s probably time to start figuring out the proper, pithy nickname for his return (we’re taking suggestions, since “Eddiessance” doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue).

Like any good comeback, however, it needs to be prefaced by a major profile by a major publicationin Murphy’s case, a pretty great one over at the New York Times this morning focusing on the comedy legend’s career, regrets, and why he felt the need to return to the genre. “I don’t want to sit on the couch after Mr. Church,” he says at one point, which yeah, we could see why that might be the case.

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One of the most interesting and candid moments of the interview, however, comes when Murphy reflects on his two legendary comedy specials, Delirious and Raw, looking back on how some of his jokesparticularly the ones involving misogyny, transphobia, and other similarly lovely ‘80's comedy standbyshave not exactly aged very well:

“For when Murphy is flipping channels on television and stumbles across Raw, he cringes. The cocky jokes about women and relationships remind him, he said, of a breakup he was going through back then. ‘I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an asshole,’ he said.

Wearing a plush zip-up jacket with sunglasses hanging off the front, Murphy leaned back and shifted from a cool monotone to a comic impression of himself watching Raw as a snooty prude. “That’s a bit much, my goodness,” he said, cracking up, then shifting again, taking his voice down an octave to register a hint of moral disapproval: “My word.”

That said, it doesn’t seem like Murphy is trying to excuse his past decisions, noting with a kind of poetic simplicity: “It’s forever.”

“I’m mushier than I used to be,” he says later when comparing his outlook at 58 to, say, 28. In any case, it sounds like we’ll get plenty of opportunities to see just how much Eddie Murphy’s career has evolved over the next couple of years.

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Andrew Paul

Andrew Paul's work is recently featured by Rolling Stone, GQ, The Forward, and The Believer, as well as McSweeney's Internet Tendency and TNY's Daily Shouts.