Chris Rock Honors Eddie Murphy on ‘Saturday Night Live’ 40th Anniversary Special [Video]
Considering the enormous imprint Eddie Murphy has made on the comedic world over the span of his impressive career, it only makes sense for him to be honored by the television show that made him a household name.
During the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special, Chris Rock delivered a touching, funny and honest speech encompassing why Eddie has been an inspiration to him, personally, his long-lasting impact on comedy and even how he managed to save the show with a well-timed yo mama joke.
Here's what Rock said about Murphy:
How do I begin to talk about Eddie Murphy? When I was young I didn’t think comedy was a job. I thought a job involved lifting things and wearing a uniform. Comedy wasn’t work. Comedy was something that got you sent to the principal’s office. And then I saw Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live and it changed everything.
Not only could comedy be a job, it could be a career. Not only a career but the coolest career ever. Right then I discovered what I wanted to do. I wanted to be Eddie Murphy. I wanted to lift a mic. I wanted the uniform I wore to be leather. And when I got sent to the principal's office, I wanted the principal to be Lorne Michaels.
In 1981, people didn’t know if Saturday Night Live was gonna last. Lorne was gone, ratings were down, and out of nowhere, Eddie saved SNL. If Saturday Night Live hadn’t hired Eddie Murphy, this show would’ve lasted about half as long as Baywatch, and none of us — none of these great cast members would've been able to do the funny things we do. I’d be like the funny UPS driver in Queens. Tina Fey would be the funniest English professor at Drexel University.
And here’s the moment me and American fell in love with Eddie. One night, the show went short — not like tonight. The show went short and they asked Eddie to come out and stretch, you know, come on come on, stretch. And he saved the show. He didn’t do Buckwheat, didn’t do Stevie Wonder. He came out and did a yo mama joke. I'm serious. This was on national TV. He came out and he said, “Your mama got a mouth on the back of her neck and the b— chew like this.”
He killed it man. He had me at b—, I tell ya.
And Eddie didn’t just have famous recurring characters. Everything he did was a hit. James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub — once. Little Richard Simmons — once. White Like Me — only did ‘em once. I mean, even Lebron misses a shot every now and then. Eddie did 48 Hours and Trading Places while he was still on the show. Eddie hosted the show while he was still a cast member. I’m sure the rest of the cast loved that.
I was on the show for 3 years — I was lucky to get a guest star on Punky Brewster.
Every couple years the media tries to call some new comic the next Eddie Murphy. Martin Lawrence is the next Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock is the next Eddie Murphy, Kevin Hart’s the next Eddie Murphy. There is no next Eddie Murphy."
It was the perfect introduction for someone who's paved the way and inspired so many comedians and actors to come after him. Eddie came out to a standing ovation, to which he said, "This show is such a big part of who I am, my life, and I’m so happy to be back here...I’m happy that so many people here value the stuff I did 35 years ago on the show."
See Photos From the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special Red Carpet!