Light years before political correctness--1983 to be exact--or his comeback in tame Disney comedies, Eddie Murphy was a charismatic, wonderfully offensive, egocentric 22-year-old black comedian known for crude celebrity impersonations and often shockingly frank diatribes on racial and sexual politics. Dressed in a skin-tight red leather suit and delivering endless streams of obscenities faster than Richard Pryor ever did, Murphy is captured in this raunchy HBO special (a filmed document of his Grammy-winning album, Eddie Murphy, Comedian
) at his confident, swaggering, comedic peak--a posture that soon disappeared after a string of bland Hollywood comedies. Here, however, his energy and sheer virtuosity command complete control over the audience for 107 minutes, whether he's mocking personalities like Elvis, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder, or spinning long, gag-filled personal anecdotes about the ice-cream man or dysfunctional family barbecues. There's no apologizing for the immature stereotyping, blatant homophobia, and sexism (though Murphy did so several years later) that surface during the routine. But, then again, unlike his much nastier, one-sided concert film, Raw
, no topic here is safe from Murphy's uproarious tongue-lashings--including the comedian himself. --Dave McCoy
Eddie Murphy live at Washington D.C.'s Constitutional Hall, with the brand of loud, brash humour which has made him famous.