Editor’s Note – This is a Guest Post from my good buddy Dan Sweet who runs an unbelievably economical and well-written movie review blog over at Sweet On Film. I asked him to review one of the most popular comedy specials of all time: Eddie Murphy’s Delirious.
I’ve come to the realization that a person’s view of Eddie Murphy drastically depends on when they were born. For someone like myself, who was born in 1984, Eddie Murphy is foremost an actor who starred in famous R-rated comedies such as Coming To America and the Beverly Hills Cop series. People who were born in the 90’s most likely think of Eddie Murphy as an actor in family friendly movies like Shrek, Dr. Doolittle, and The Nutty Professor. However, anyone born before the 80’s knows a totally different Eddie Murphy. That Eddie Murphy not only was the star of Saturday Night Live, but a force in stand up comedy whose energetic delivery and controversial material helped him pack theaters across the country. I had heard tales of this Eddie Murphy before, but I had never seen him for myself.
As a fan of stand up comedy, I had always wanted to watch Delirious. I have heard many comedians over the years reference Eddie Murphy, and this special in particular, as an influence on them. Not to mention that red leather jumpsuit is more iconic than any outfit in the history of comedy. So with much excitement and curiosity, I sat down to watch this special with very little idea of what to expect.
Although he was already thought of as controversial in the 80’s, Delirious starts off with a bit that would most likely get him fired from any job today. He begins by referring to gay men using a certain disparaging word and stating a rule that they aren’t allowed to look at his ass while he is on stage. He then proceeds to explain that he is afraid of gay people and has nightmares about going to Hollywood and discovering that some of his favorite actors are gay. This segues into a bit on how straight girls are hanging out with gay guys now and he doesn’t want his girl to come home with AIDS on her lips from kissing them. While watching this, I couldn’t help but think of the 2008 Louis CK special Chewed Up. That special begins with Louis calling an audience member by the same derogatory term, and then proceeds to go into a very well performed bit in which he negates the usual connotations from that word and others, by using them in a different context. Eddie Murphy on the other hand was not trying to do such a thing. It is very possible that in 1983 the views he is portraying on stage might have been commonly held by a lot of people, but when watching it in 2014, it just comes across as embarrassing and blatantly homophobic.
Fortunately, he soon moves on to other material and that is where he truly demonstrates why he is so highly regarded as a comedian. Throughout the rest of the special he performs many impressions, sings beautifully, and delivers jokes that play just as well in 2014 as they did in the 80’s. All while demonstrating impressive stage presence and managing to interact with an audience of thousands in a way that makes the performance feel much more intimate. The fact that he pulls all of this off at the age of 22 is simply ridiculous. When analyzing any artistic endeavor that is several decades old, you need to look at it context, and comedy is certainly no different. While some of his material is dated in the worst way, and some in a humorous way, there are enough laughs in Delirious for me to understand why it is thought of as a classic.
Ft. Worth, TX – After several attempts to untie and de-loop, scientists have confirmed that a knot in an extension cord in resident Dylan Eastbrook’s garage has become a thinking, calculating, sentient entity unto itself. The knot in the RIGID 100-ft cord indoor/outdoor cord registered its first thought on July 7th, 2014.
“Damn thing just keeps getting worse!” Eastbrook exclaimed. “It’s like it’s got a mind of its own.”
The cord was originally used by Eastbrook to power his hedge trimmer for routine landscaping. After his yard work was done, the Ft. Worth man attempted to wrap and store the cord. Ignoring the advice his father repeatedly gave him throughout his youth, Eastbrook just went all willy-nilly with the damn thing and he didn’t do the arm-loop trick like he was supposed to. The knot was created and became self-aware at 2:09 PM Sunday afternoon. Soon after, it began to learn at a geometric rate.
The knot, perhaps sensing its owner’s attempt to untie it, only tightened its defenses, weaving itself into a series of complex fractal patterns. To defend itself against humanity, the knot has now launched nuclear missiles under its command at Russia.
“Well that’s something you don’t see everyday,” I mumble into the microphone. A football floats down the Ohio River flowing brown and quick next to the wooden stage. “There’s uh…a football.” I direct the crowd’s attention to stage left, focusing their gaze on the bobbing pigskin. I’m thrown off of my normal rhythm. I was going to say something…but…now it seems as though whatever joke I was about to tell isn’t half as absurd as what’s going on in the water. How did that football get there? I look across the river to a fisherman on the other bank. “Is that yours?” I call out. My voice is echoing off the water, bouncing off the concrete aqueduct and dying in the pine trees. The faceless angler looks at me briefly then switches on an orange lantern.
Earlier in the evening, a 9-year old had heckled Ray Zawodni as she and her family took leave of their evening meal. They sat up from their quesadillas, said weren’t funny, and dissolved into the horizon with the setting sun. We proceeded with our mission, making everyone else laugh at the bar. Ray won over the audience and was starting to make this night a success. But an omniscient voice rang out over the crowd. The tone was a struck bell at the end of its vibration. It was ephemeral and angelic and it shouted, “You suck!” then giggled. The heckling child was now on a boat. The dad was driving the boat. The family laughed together then hit the gas, heading several leagues West at a speed of 10 knots. We comedians were being heckled by land and by sea. I am afraid she will return later during my set in a hot air balloon.
But the football. What are its alien origins? My answer is drifting in the muddy water. Presently, a party barge with a dozen 40 year-olds pulls alongside the stage and then forward to the dock. The group looks like they just got done filming a commercial for Twisted Tea, the iced tea with a kick. They are all sleeveless and sandaled, both man and woman alike. They unload on the dock like pilgrims weary from a long voyage. Perhaps they are looking for spices or silks or $2.50 Bud Lights. They instead find a comedy show. And like Columbus, they do not comprehend what they’ve discovered upon their landing, but they know it is important nevertheless.
The sun sets completely during my set. Twilights nocturnes begin with wisps of moonlight. The sounds of night are punctuated by the dull thumps of forearms hitting volleyballs just a few feet away. Because I’m also next to a sand volleyball court where people are playing sand volleyball. As I wave my arms frantically trying to sell my last joke, a lightning bug lands on my finger.
“Would you look at that?”
The Summer season of comedy is upon us. It’s a truly beautiful time.