Eddie Murphy has made a stir in the comedy world a decent amount lately. A new movie that looks great, an appearance on Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee where he discussed a possible return to stand-up, which was quickly followed by the news that Netflix made him a $70 Million offer to get back on the stage. While the jury is still out on his return to the stand-up stage, Saturday Night Live just announced Murphy’s return to a different stage… and that’s the one in studio 8H where Murphy first exploded into superstardom.
Murphy is set to host SNL on December 21st (their holiday show) and why this is such a big deal is that he’s never hosted the show since his original run on the show between 1980 and 1984. Yes, Murphy technically hosted the show while he was still a cast member (he filled in for a his sick 48 Hours co-star Nick Nolte) but other than a drop-in during SNL 40 Murphy hasn’t really been one to show up on a show where he was one of its biggest players in the 80s.
The story as to why spans decades, but we’ll give you the quick details…
After the run with the initial cast of SNL, creator/showrunner Lorne Michaels left the show after 5 years in 1980 to pursue other interests. Jean Doumanian briefly ran the show (for like 6 months) and was replaced by Dick Ebersol after that bad season of reviews. Ebersol fired pretty much every cast member Doumanian hired save for two cast members – Joe Piscipo and a 19 year old Eddie Murphy. Murphy was a background player under Doumanian but under Ebersol he exploded into stardom and is credited for most of the success of the show during his tenure from 1980 until he left in February 1984. Michaels took the show back over in 1985 and has been its showrunner ever since, effectively bypassing the Murphy years altogether.
Murphy did return to host the show in December 1984 but after that he was done and never returned to SNL. He went on to be one of the biggest movie stars of the 1980s, starring in legendary films of the era. He never returned to SNL because, let’s face it, he wasn’t really one of “Lorne’s people” and has gone on record for saying he didn’t love his time at the end, stating he was eager to leave and star in movies. Once he left, he hadn’t spoken much about his time on the show. However, fast forward to 1995 when David Spade made a snarky joke about Murphy’s career, it pretty much galvanized Murphy’s desire not to return. Years later around 2011 in interviews Murphy said he had gotten over a lot of his bitterness toward the show and regretted the lore it created.
In 2015, Murphy dropped in for SNL 40 for a hot minute. After a glowing introduction from Chris Rock, Murphy pretty much walked on stage, thanked everyone and then left the stage. He reprised no classic characters, performed no sketches, nor did much else. It was later revealed he was asked to do a Bill Cosby impersonation but declined as Cosby was in the middle of his sexual assault accusations and Murpy felt it would belittle Cosby’s victims.
So while he’s easily one of the most famous alumni of the show, Eddie Murphy’s relationship with the show after leaving hasn’t been the most warm. Which brings us to today.
So, the idea of Eddie Murphy finally returning to the comedy stage leaves us hopeful. We hope he gets some laughs and huge audience response warming him even more to the idea of returning to stand-up. This could be him dipping his toes in the water to see how things are before he goes fully in.
Not to overshadow that a bunch of other names were announced to host, season 45 of the show will kick off on September 28th with Woody Harrelson and Billie Eilish making a splash. What is still up in the air is what cast members will and will not be returning to the show. A lot of activity happened over the summer – Kate McKinnon’s contract expired and Kenan Thompson has a new pilot. So there’s a possibility that the show’s longest running cast member and current breakout star might not return. Only time will tell.
Sept. 28 – Woody Harrelson / Billie Eilish
Oct. 5 – Phoebe Waller-Bridge / Taylor Swift
Oct. 12 – David Harbour / Camila Cabello
Nov. 2 – Kristen Stewart / Musical Guest TBA
Dec. 21 – Eddie Murphy / Musical Guest TBA