FRONT Magazine

A LONG-ASS CHAT WITH CHARLIE MURPHY FROM CHAPPELLE’S SHOW


Charlie Murphy, best known as the star of the “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” sketches on Chappelle’s Show, is heading over to the UK for his first stand-up shows over here. The Acid Trip Tour will be on 11th October at London indigO2 (two shows in one day at 6pm & 9pm), on 12th October at the O2 Apollo Manchester and on 14th October at Birmingham Alexandra Theatre. We rang him up for a chat about Iceland, the enduring appeal of Chappelle’s Show and accidentally teaching children about oral sex…

Hi Charlie! You’re going to be heading over here in a couple of months to do your first UK show,..
Yes I am, I can’t wait man. I’m really looking forward to it. This is The Charlie Murphy Acid Trip 2012 tour, and we’ve been to Scandinavia, we’ve been down under to Australia and New Zealand, and now we’re coming to the UK. We actually should have started in Britain, that made more sense to me, but the way it was routed, we started in Reykjavik in Iceland, and that was scary.

That does seem to make no sense as a schedule, to start you off in Iceland.
It seems weird, right? But that was how it was done. That was nine months ago when we started doing it, and man, it was one of my best times on the road. This tour has been a blast – we’ve had great fun, had great shows, and we’re just riding the waves. To be a black comedian from Brooklyn and be in Iceland – I’m asking them “Are there any other comedians, not just black comedians, but there any other comedians from New York been here?” No. That’s good.

Awesome.
And now I’m coming to Great Britain, just right after the Olympics, which couldn’t be better. I’ve been to London, but I’ve never got to see more of England, I’m gonna get to taste different foods they have there, cos I love Euro-tastes. I’m probably the only black dude in the world who’s into that shit.

You’ve been doing stand-up for a living for a couple of years now. Had you done any before that, or did you just come to it relatively late?
Nah, before that it was just movies and TV shows… I’m a writer as well, so those are things that I’ve focssed on during those years. The one thing for any comedian is opportunity. If you go to an open mic and the guy at the mic doesn’t like you, he may deny you your opportunity, and say “You know what; we don’t have no spot for you today.” He doesn’t know the anatomy of a show or whatever, he’s working at a bar, but he can ruin your life, he has the power to deny you your opportunity. All the way up the ladder there’s gonna be people that can deny you your opportunity, and that’s the way the world is. I had to wait for mine, but I wasn’t denied. When I was at Chappelle’s Show, and things went great, and my sketch went through the roof the way it went, that made people hungry, like “I want some more of that, that was really good.” And that created all the other opportunities. Now the rest of it’s all on me.

When the Chappelle’s Show sketch became this huge thing, that must have been really unexpected, because at the time it was just a small cable show, right?
It was definitely unexpected, and also, to this day, still not totally seen – the magnitude of what happened is still unravelling. I’m still going “Wait a minute, this happened like 10 years ago man!” The last was produced 10 years ago. It’s still the number one show on Comedy Central. We’ve got videos on YouTube with like 25-30 million hits, on Chappelle show sketches. That’s crazy, you know?

It is, it’s insane.
It was a major hit, that created a huge opportunity for Charlie Murphy to now go on stage and do stand-up comedy. And the next part of the hurdle was, could I do stand up comedy? Here was this opportunity, and it was so big that I took it. I went to a club, and I went onstage, and I was supposed to be on for three minutes, and was on for fifteen minutes. Because of my personality.

So it immediately worked?
Well, if another person had done the exact same thing I did, I’m one hundred percent sure they would have got booed off the stage.

Uh, okay…
I didn’t do shit. I went onstage and was just talking about anything, and it was all personality driven. It wasn’t no skit, it wasn’t no jokes, everyone was excited to see Charlie Murphy standing in front of them, and I just kinda talked to them, kind of like Steve-O would do. But it wasn’t stand up, that is not stand up comedy. That is some other shit. I didn’t want to be that, so I didn’t want to go up there anymore. I didn’t want to go up and have people clapping just because I was in a show that’s off the air. No, I had no interest in doing that, but could I do stand up? I found my own voice in stand up, I’ve studied the game and I’ve practiced it, and I’m always doing it. So here we are, Charlie Murphy’s coming to London.

Can you describe your style now?
A lot of people mistakenly use the word dirty to describe me. They say “Do you use profanity in your set?” Yeah, I do. “So you’re a dirty comic?” No! Your mother uses profanity you know, sometimes. If I drop a hot kettle on your mother’s foot and she’ll say “God damn!” Everybody finds a way to use profanity; you know what I’m saying? That’s number one, and number two; I’m a grown man, and my show is for grown people. I talk to you in your own vernacular, I don’t talk to you like you’re 16, because my audience is not 16. If people start going “Oh yeah, I’m gonna bring my 16 year old son to see Charlie Murphy,” they may regret that.

A bit of swearing never hurt anyone though, right?
I remember one time I was on stage in California, and this guy came up to me before I went on stage and said “We love you Charlie, I brought a whole busload of kids!” So I imagined he was talking about college students that were about 20. And I was doing a bit where I was talking about, like, oral sex or something, and nobody was laughing. And it’s something people laugh about all the time, and I’m like “What’s going on tonight?” Then I looked down and there’s a table full of actual little kids in front of me, there looking at me like, “Tell us more!”

They were probably just like “Oral sex? You can do that?”
The kids probably rehearsed everything I said, and said it over and over again for the next five years. Yeah, kids like stuff like that.

Why’s the show called Acid Trip?
Well, people automatically think I’m talking about drug use. And I am.

Ha!
I am, subtly, but that’s not what the show is about. I do discuss drug use in the show, but the show is looking through metaphors, poking fun at reality. Is it all really happening? There’s enough really absurd things going on for me to question, and for me to ask that question of you. Is this shit real or not? We’ve all had dreams – what’s the difference between some of your wildest dreams and some of the wildest things you’ve seen on television? They’re both wild, man. Is everything all really happening? That’s what I want you to leave asking yourself.

Check out Charlie’s website for more info on him.

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