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24 Times Eddie Murphy Was A Comedy Genius

When Eddie Murphy was 15 years old, he was already writing and performing his own material at his high school, youth centers, and even bars. It was a period of preparation that would eventually pay off and launch his career by landing him a gig on "Saturday Night Live" at the age of 19. Ever since then, he's graced the big and small screens with numerous hit stand-up shows, sketches, and never-aging movies enjoyed by people all over the world.

As a result, there are a ton of Eddie Murphy moments that never fail to make us laugh. But which ones are the funniest of the bunch? Well, holding our sides the whole time, we took a look at the comedian's career — from his early days on "SNL" to his more recent films — and found the very best bits that people still fondly remember. From edgy stand-up moments to gut-busting movie scenes, these are the times that Eddie Murphy proved he was a true comedy genius.

Eddie Murphy trolled Mike Tyson

In 1989, Eddie Murphy put his own safety on the line when he decided to wind up a heavyweight boxing champion. And he did it with such finesse that people watching wondered what the heck he was actually up to.

It all started when Murphy — who was hosting a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. — called the legendary Mike Tyson to the stage. But after the boxer delivered a few respectful, heartfelt words of honor to Davis, Murphy took the microphone and said, "I think Mike can do a little better than that." Confused but willing to correct himself, Tyson repeated his words, only with more passion and conviction. But again, Murphy wasn't happy.

And that's when the comedian went in for the kill, saying the producers were hoping for "more Mike Tysonisms." Then Murphy launched into a hilarious impersonation of the heavyweight champ, roasting him until the smiling pugilist grabbed him across the mouth and took him off the stage. Not even Murphy's bodyguards could've saved him from that one!

Checking into the Beverly Palm Hotel

In "Beverly Hills Cop," Eddie Murphy plays the hysterical Axel Foley, a Detroit detective who can get in and out of any situation. For example, there's the scene where he's faced with the harsh news that there are no rooms available at the Beverly Palm Hotel. Thinking on his feet, Foley claims that he's actually a reporter — "Rolling Stone magazine's Axel Foley" — but that doesn't get him inside either.

Realizing he won't be getting a room, Foley switches it up a gear and verbally launches at the receptionist, saying he was going to do an article on Michael Jackson, but now he'll have to disappoint his readers as the Beverly Palm evidently doesn't welcome Black people. This immediately gets the attention of the hotel manager, who de-escalates the situation by letting Foley know that there's been a last-minute cancellation, and there's now a room available for him.

The payoff comes when a relieved and now much calmer Foley learns that the cost of the room is $235 per night. And that's the moment we get a pricelessly funny, stone-faced expression from Murphy that still makes us laugh by just the mere thought of it.

Prince Akeem acts like an average American

In "Coming to America," Murphy's Prince Akeem arrives in New York dressed in expensive animal fur and wearing a massive golden neck chain. However, this clashes with his intent to keep a low profile by appearing "no different from the average man." As soon as he utters these words, we see he's being followed by several servants pushing trolleys loaded with large suitcases. So much for remaining inconspicuous.

The African monarch then proceeds to stop a taxi by walking into the middle of the road and shouting "halt!" When the cabbie asks why he wants to head to Queens instead of a wealthier area like Manhattan, Akeem keeps up his "ruse," telling the very confused driver that they're "not rich." Instead, they're "ordinary American students."

Eventually, Akeem ends up in the grayest, most poverty-stricken neighborhood possible, along with his tons of luggage. The sight of this well-to-do aristocrat trying to lay low among the freezing locals, warming themselves by burning barrels on the sidewalk, is truly hilarious.

The ice cream man bit in Delirious

Eddie Murphy's ice cream man bit was a massive hit back in 1983, and surprisingly, it still hasn't lost its bite. Here, Murphy acts like a regular '80s kid who completely loses his mind upon seeing the ice cream truck's arrival. The funniest part comes when Murphy starts imitating the way the kid supposedly dances as soon as he gets its ice cream, and those are some hilarious Michael Jackson-level moves right there! 

He (child Murphy) then goes on to brag about his treat by brutally mocking the kids who didn't get ice cream, all while joyously wiggling his bottom. The bit ends with Murphy (the kid) dropping his microphone (the ice cream), picking it up, giving it a kiss, and raising it high in the air in a motion of victory. All of Murphy's talents are on display here — crazy voices, physical comedy, and a willingness to get edgy — and that's why it's still one of his most memorable moments.

Mr. Robinson talks about nutrition

On "Saturday Night Live," Eddie Murphy absolutely killed it with his Mr. Rogers parody, Mr. Robinson. Sure, Mr. Robinson's teaching's weren't famous for being child-friendly, but viewers couldn't help themselves but fall in love with this street-smart, boundary-pushing, over-the-top character.

In his bit about nutrition, Mr. Robinson joyfully enters his home and tells the audience about a kind old lady who gave him 25 cents to carry her groceries. And to express his gratitude, Robinson just walked away with the groceries, which he now presents to the audience in detail, turning the whole thing into a lesson in healthy nutritious eating, even though the paper bag is filled with mostly cheap and not-too-healthy canned goods. The bit ends with him escaping through the window with the bag in hand while his landlord and the cops stand at his door, waiting to question him about the stolen groceries.

Murphy's Mr. Robinson character was so hilarious and loved by the audience that it makes you wonder why there's no "Saturday Night Live" movie about him yet.

Crossing the freeway in Bowfinger

"Bowfinger" is a true lowkey masterpiece and sadly one of the most underrated Eddie Murphy movies. It celebrates those in the film industry who, despite a lack of talent and resources, still strive to pursue their passion for making motion pictures.

Here, Murphy plays Kit Ramsey — a paranoid, deluded, and bordering-crazy movie star. After washed-up movie director Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin) fails to cast Kit in his new B-movie, the filmmaker resorts to hiring lookalike named Jiff (also Murphy). But Bowfinger, a man who uses some rather questionable tactics to direct his films, puts Jiff's life on the line when he has him run across a busy motorway. To help convince Jiff to film the scene, he tells him the cars are being driven by "professional stuntmen," which definitely isn't the case.

Scared out of his mind, Jiff finally manages to make the life-threatening run by miraculously dodging every single car that's about to run him over ... only to then be asked to do another take by the director.

Talking about Rocky in Raw

In Murphy's stand-up film "Raw," the comedian talks about Italians getting a massive boost in confidence immediately after watching "Rocky." The funniest thing about this performance is the way Murphy flawlessly imitates the old-school Italian-American dialect, and he does it so well that it feels like listening to Joe Pesci as Tommy DeVito in "Goodfellas." Seriously, if someone had cast him as part of the New Jersey mob in "The Sopranos," nobody would've ever complained — that's how spot on his dialect is. 

The bit gets even funnier when Murphy pretends to be a 5'2" Italian guy who — inspired by watching Rocky Balboa trade blows with heavyweight champ Apollo Creed — tries to pick a fight with a 6'5" Black man. If you haven't seen it yet, make sure to check it out, and you'll know why they call Eddie Murphy the king of impressions.

Pretending to be blind and crippled in Trading Places

In "Trading Places," a comedy gem from 1983, Murphy steps into the shoes of con artist Billy Ray Valentine, who finds himself switching places with an elitist investor (Dan Aykroyd) as part of a bet by two heartless millionaires. But before the switcheroo, we watch Billy Ray get in trouble with two policemen who confront him for pretending to be a blind, crippled war veteran.

In order to keep himself out of jail and gain the officers' sympathy, he immediately starts running his mouth about being a Vietnam vet who fought for the "Green Berets, Special Unit Battalions ... Commando Airborne Tactics ... Specialist Tactics Unit Battalion." Unfortunately for him, the lie doesn't fly with the two cops, who take off his shades and jointly lift him up by his arms, now fully aware that he's pretending to be blind and unable to walk.

And this is when a "true miracle" happens — the conman can suddenly walk and see. While praising the heavens for his miraculous recovery, Billy Ray slowly walks away from the cops, who at this point, don't seem to care about his pathetic shenanigans anymore and just let him go free.

Coming to America's barbershop scenes

In "Coming to America," we get to witness Murphy as multiple characters during the amazing barber shop scenes, where he plays Prince Akeem, barber Clarence, and an old Jewish man named Saul.

Arguably, the funniest part comes when Clarence gets into an argument with elderly barber Morris (Arsenio Hall) about boxing legend Joe Louis. After Morris mentions that Louis was once beaten by Rocky Marciano, Clarence hilariously flips out and starts defending his hero by saying that Louis had "come out of retirement to fight Marciano", that he was 76-years-old at the time, and that "Joe Louis always lied about his age." (In truth, Louis was actually 37 at the time.) He then goes on to furiously hammer down his point by saying that when Frank Sinatra visited his barber shop to get a haircut, he told him that, "Hey, Joe Louis was 137-years-old."

The scene ends with Clarence dropping F-bombs at everyone for doubting that he's telling the truth about having hung out with Frank Sinatra and unceremoniously — and without permission — cutting off Prince Akeem's braid he'd been growing since birth.

Rudy Ray Moore's big action moment

In 2019's "Dolemite Is My Name," Murphy plays real-life comedy and rap legend Rudy Ray Moore, who was known for his bizarre acting and drop-dead funny kung fu "skills." This biopic follows Moore as he makes his first big movie, "Dolemite," which is directed by an exasperated D'Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes). At one point, we watch them shoot one of the most ludicrous scenes in action history, where Murphy's character does "battle" with a couple of actors pretending to be FBI agents. Moore's cinematic combat skills are like a car accident — they're extremely hard to watch, but you can't look away. The acting, the line delivery, and the absurdly fake choreography all contribute to a magnificently awkward but hilarious moment that perfectly captures the fight scene from the actual 1975 "Dolemite." Seriously, it's a travesty Murphy didn't get an Oscar nod for this film.

The family dinner in The Nutty Professor

In this scene from 1996's "The Nutty Professor," Murphy shows off his multiplicity talent by playing almost an entire family of nutcases chit-chatting and arguing while eating dinner. The roles he plays here include Sherman Krump (the professor), Papa Cletus Klump, Mama Anna Klump, Klump Senior, and Grandma Ida Mae Jensen. The only person at the table that's not Murphy is Sherman's little brother, Ernie (Jamal Mixon).

The conversation features everything from weight loss to Grandma Jenson admitting that she was aroused while watching Mike Douglas' show, adding that he's the only white man who ever did that to her. Needless to say, this doesn't go over too well with ol' grandpa, who hopelessly says that he would like to volunteer to "put this old bird out of her misery."

It's hard to believe that one man can orchestrate a five-person conversation between characters of different ages and personalities with such precision and comedic prowess, but there it is. The whole scene goes on for about five minutes, and it's definitely worth re-watching in its glorious entirety. Just a little advice though — you might not want to watch it on a full stomach.

Eddie Murphy's Bill Cosby impression

During his Mark Twain Award acceptance speech at the Kennedy Center in 2015, Eddie Murphy decided to spice up the show with a little bit of awkward discomfort by asking whether Bill Cosby was asked to give his Mark Twain Award back after he got in trouble with the law.

In full Bill Cosby mode (voice and facial expression), he then bitterly said that he would like to have a talk with those people who felt he should give back his trophies. Rightfully, the audiences couldn't hold it in any longer, and all erupted in uncontrollable laughter. In even grumpier fashion, he then went on to say that he wasn't willing to give anything back, despite the allegations about him. After realizing that his Cosby monologue might be dragging on for a little longer than most people would feel comfortable with, Murphy laughingly said, "I don't wanna go too far on Bill," after which he graciously thanked the audience for the award.

The mix between laughter and discomfort is truly unbeatable in this one.

Eddie Murphy's Elvis Presley bit

In his first and most popular stand-up special, Eddie Murphy delivered a variety of stunningly hilarious performances and real-life celebrity impressions including Stevie Wonder and James Brown. But perhaps his best was when he imitated the King of Rock and Roll.

Even though his Elvis Presley bit is no longer than 90 seconds, it remains one of his most memorable and spot-on impersonations. Here, Murphy talks about Elvis' immense popularity and limitless musical talent, joking that he was even given roles as an actor who sang his dialogue because he didn't have a knack for acting. Later on, he describes Elvis' later years as an overweight, troublesome, yet still in-demand performer.

In order to appreciate how good Eddie Murphy actually was at impersonations, it's worth closing your eyes and simply listening to this sketch. The resemblance to Elvis' actual voice is nothing short of astounding.

The car scene from Tower Heist

"Tower Heist" features quite the impressive range of talent, from Matthew Broderick to Casey Affleck, but there's no denying that Eddie Murphy completely steals the show when it comes to the big laughs. One scene in particular that stands out is when his character, convicted thief Slide Davis, is bailed out of prison by Ben Stiller's Josh Kovaks. Slide has no clue why Josh would want to get him out, and he's rather suspicious about his new benefactor. With little patience for Josh's small talk, Slide puts his own foot on the gas pedal — accelerating the car to dangerous speeds — while shouting at Josh, asking why he bailed him out. The whole time, a terrified Josh is desperately holding onto the wheel.

After managing to calm Slide down a bit, Josh goes on to explain who he is and that the two knew each other during childhood. And that's when Slide finally remembers him ... as "the little seizure boy that was having them seizures all the time" in daycare. Josh then proposes that they work together to steal $20 million. This calms Slide immediately, and the scene ends on a hilarious quiet note as he tells Josh, "Let's go get something to eat."

His Stevie Wonder impression on SNL

In this "Saturday Night Live" classic, Murphy plays Stevie Wonder in his full shining glory, partnering with Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra. The sketch takes place in a music studio and has the two legends join forces to rewrite Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney's "Ebony and Ivory" into a much more inappropriate version of the song on Sinatra's request. The crooner (obviously not up to speed with the progression of times) seems to miss the point of what the song is actually about. The "updated" version features lyrics such as "you are blind as a bat, and I have sight!" and shows Stevie carefully navigating to save the essence of a song about racial equality while Sinatra ignorantly tramples all over it.

Once again, Murphy's impersonation is spot-on, and it also makes you wonder (pun intended) how good he would've actually been had he taken on singing as a profession.

The 'I'm thin' scene in The Nutty Professor

In this scene from "The Nutty Professor," overweight Sherman Klump wakes up to the realization that he's now thin after taking a special chemical. Sadly, he loses his charms in the process, turning into an obnoxious man he names Buddy Love.

After celebrating the fact that he can finally see his own privates, Sherman Klump's alter ego heads out to buy himself spandex in order to show off his new body to ta much brighter-looking world. He swiftly also joins an all-women gym class and stuffs himself with fast food before climbing on top of a building and shouting — for the whole world to hear — "I'm thin! I'm thin!" And all the while, James Brown's "I Feel Good" is running in the background. The result is a hilarious scene that, among other things, showcases Murphy's endless talents in physical comedy, especially the parts in the gym and in front of the clothing store mirror.

The jail scene in Trading Places

Eddie Murphy is on the top of his game in "Trading Places." For proof, look no further than the jail scene, where his Billy Ray tells a story to his cellmates about the time he supposedly "cut" somebody with his bare hands. He goes on to show off his arsenal of fake yet hilarious martial arts moves while screaming like a '70s kung fu star. He also presents the "quarter blood technique," which supposedly causes a person to lose a quarter of their blood if hit by it.

Eventually, Billy Ray gets called out by two hardened cellmates on his obvious lie of beating up 10 police officers at the same time. His loud mouth then triggers the two larger men, who walk over to him and lift him up in the air like a feather. In a desperate attempt to save his doomed butt (yet still trying to look cool in the eyes of the other cellmates) Billy Ray cowardly shouts — for the guards to hear — that they don't know who they're messing with "in cell number 4." And that's when, right on time, a cop arrives telling Billy Ray that he made bail and is free to go. 

The men and women bit in Raw

In "Raw," Eddie Murphy explores the complicated relationships between men and women, the foolish lengths we go to in order to get laid, and how one little mess-up can cost you a whole relationship.

Arguably one of the funniest parts in Murphy's men and women bit is the beginning, where he role-plays a conversation between a man asking his partner where she's going to be, to which she (Murphy in a sassy voice) replies, "I'm gonna be where I'm at." And then there's the part where Murphy talks about a hurt woman going to the Bahamas by herself to get a break from her boyfriend while he plots to cheat on her back in the U.S. The imaginary woman in this scenario meets a "swinging" local man named Dexter Saint Jack, who seduces her with his sweet words, native accent, and perfect singing impersonation of Bob Marley.

Although some of the jokes may seem a little dated for the world of today, Murphy's performance here is unquestionably brilliant.

Trying to save his privates in I Spy

Granted, 2002's "I Spy" doesn't have the best reviews, but it still features some trademark Murphy moments. Case in point — the moment where he's almost castrated.

After going out on a date with an undercover agent named Rachel (Famke Janssen), boxing champion Kelly Robinson (Murphy) — who's also undercover as part of a secret mission — ends up getting abducted by her and a few other masked goons. The hilarious part comes when Kelly is pressed to answer questions or else risk getting his privates cut off by several knives pointing in his direction. The quickness with which Murphy delivers his lines here in a desperate attempt to save his family jewels from being removed is hysterically funny. The whole scene is a little masterclass in humor, one filled with lots of laughs stringed together in a little more than a minute of condensed comedy gold.

The James Brown impression

A short but fantastic moment from "Delirious” is Murphy's impersonation of James Brown. In this bit, he points out that even though Brown has been singing for 20 years, Murphy still doesn't understand what he's talking about. He then goes on to say that he once even met the soul rock legend on "Saturday Night Live," walked up to him and said, "I love your stuff, James." James then replied, "Baba-diba" (or something of that sort).

Later on, Murphy remarks on how every sentence that comes out of James Brown's mouth is followed by an exclamative "hayaugh", and surely, we all know exactly what he's talking about here. But the funniest part comes when Eddie performs a piece entirely sung in James Brown gibberish. As a finale, Murphy/James starts addressing his imaginary band with one of the band members confusedly replying, "Man, what the F is James talking about?"

The 'Boom Boom Room' scene from Life

"Life" tells the story of two wrongly convicted men (Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence as Rayford Gibson and Claude Banks) sentenced to life at a Mississippi penitentiary. Although this is an extremely touching and powerfully humane film, it's also incredibly funny, and the "Boom Boom Room" scene is a perfect example of that.

In this scene, a group of convicts listens to storyteller Ray (Murphy), who vividly describes the dream of running his own establishment when he gets out of prison — namely, the Boom Boom Room. In this fantasy, Ray helps all the prisoners imagine themselves playing a role as staff and entertainers in his luxurious club. Funnily, Martin Lawrence's character, Claude, gets to be the waiter, who Ray bosses around to get back at him for disrespecting him in real life.

Sadly, the dream ends abruptly as the guards walk in and cut the boys' party short. But still, it's a fun and emotion-packed scene that serves as a reminder that Murphy isn't only a great comedian but also a fantastic drama actor.

The shoe-throwing mother

Another gold piece from "Delirious" has Murphy talking about his mother's perfect shoe-throwing aim, which she would demonstrate flawlessly anytime he messed up as a child. Basically, as the comedian puts it, she was the Clint Eastwood of shoe-throwing. He goes on to describe how his mother would swiftly reach for her footwear as if she were reaching for a pistol and shoot items she didn't approve of out of little Eddie's hands in the supermarket. 

After that, Murphy recalls his mother's special weapon — the high heel shoe that would fly like a boomerang. He then hilariously ends the bit by describing with how much precision she used the boomerang shoe and that as soon as she heard little Eddie trying to open the door to go outside without permission, she would throw it, it would fly across the house, knock him out, and then fly back to her (sound effect included).

One thing is for sure, by the sound of it, '70s moms were not to be messed with.

Rasputia going down the water slide

Eddie Murphy's chameleonic powers are on full display in "Norbit," where he plays both the title character and his jealous, vindictive, plus-sized girlfriend, Rasputia.

In one particularly great Murphy scene, Rasputia notices that Norbit is watching the woman of his dreams, Kate (Thandie Newton), going down a giant water park slide. Needless to say, Rasputia is none too pleased and decides it's time for a little showmanship.

After laboriously climbing to the top of the slide, Rasputia is informed that there's a 300-pound weight limit, to which she confidently replies, "I weigh 165." After sitting down and folding her arms, a staffer gives her a push ... and she goes soaring through a wooden wall and lands all the way in the kids' pool, screaming the entire time. When she finally climbs out, she almost crushes a little girl, who she subsequently greets with her catchphrase, "How you doing?"

Murphy is so convincing in this part that it's easy to imagine that some people might believe Rasputia is played by a real actress and not the legendary comedian himself.

Meeting Serge

In this classic scene from "Beverly Hills Cop," Murphy's Axel Foley goes to visit his old Detroit friend, Jenny Summers (Lisa Eilbacher), and has what's perhaps the weirdest and most hilarious encounter of the entire movie with Serge (Bronson Pinchot), a flamboyant man with a French accent.

While waiting for Jenny at an art gallery, Axel gets approached by salesman Serge, who keeps mispronouncing his name as Achmed, Achwell, and other funny variations and offers him an espresso with a "touch of lemon twist," which Axel understandably refuses. The two also have a chat about a piece of art Serge says he managed to sell for a whopping $130,000, to which Axel responds by hilariously squealing, "Get the F outta here!" He's then countered by a similar, "No, I cannot, it's serious, because it's a very important piece."

The whole conversation is a priceless gem of spotless comedy, made even better by the fact that both actors are on the verge of bursting out with laughter on multiple occasions.