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The Continuum of Black Stand-up Comedy, Pt. 1: Eddie Murphy’s 'Raw'

by Nijla Mumin
April 10, 2013 1:44 PM
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'Eddie Murphy Raw'

Kevin Hart may be one of the most popular Black stand-up comedians today but, at one time, a young, leather jumpsuit-clad Eddie Murphy dominated the stand-up scene. His acclaimed "Eddie Murphy Raw" (1987) captured the attention and laughter of critics and audiences alike, with Murphy drawing comparisons to a young Richard Pryor.

Filmed live in New York City, the film finds Murphy instigating everything from the "innate" unfaithfulness in men to the pseudo bravado of Italian-Americans after watching the "Rocky" film series. "All right Rocky! All right Sly," he screams in a thick Italian accent, before performing a scene where two characters engage in a culture clash, dispelling all stereotypes that had previously been set up.

It’s this kind of raunchy, non-PC humor that helped shape Murphy’s brand of stand-up. Nothing was ever too sacred or controversial to laugh at in that skit, or even in another where Murphy transforms into his childhood self, craving a fast food hamburger from a mother who was sure she could cook one “better than McDonald's.” What follows is a thorough, hilarious story that borders on comedic genius.

What are your favorite stand-up moments from "Raw"? Or can you think of another stand-up routine that deserves more kudos?

XFINITY On Demand™ is currently featuring "Eddie Murphy Raw." Learn more and join the celebration of Black entertainment at

Editor’s Note: Shadow and Act partnered with XFINITY to celebrate Black entertainment. Be sure to visit, a unique digital community built around the love of Black TV, film, sports, music and more. Shadow and Act hopes to enrich this community and provide a launching pad for insightful discussion. Look to Shadow and Act for features and content examining and exploring key themes and topics that run throughout the history of Black entertainment.

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  • Alex Krajci | June 14, 2013 10:53 PMReply

    1987's Eddie Murphy: Raw Did Make Ms. Sindelar Laugh Because Of All The Swearing That Eddie Murphy Says.

  • Winfred | May 6, 2013 10:34 AMReply

    Love the whole Movie favorite part is when he was talking about the stomping and clapping for his wife's vagina

  • Ava | April 14, 2013 7:41 PMReply

    For some reason, Raw is staring me in the eyes any time I log onto Netflix. I haven't seen it in years, so I have to revisit that film before I go quoting any lines. The first thing that comes to mind is from Saturday Night Live, when he was in that Reggae Band singing 'We Gonna Kill De White People, but Buy My Record First'. My family is from Jamaica and the first time we all saw that skit, no one could stop laughing!
    I'd love to know why Eddie Murphy no longer does stand up. Does anyone know? Something tells me that if he channeled some of what he's been feeling and going through over the last several years, he'd have the makings of a provocative, possibly seriously funny stand up routine. I guess, he'd have to want to do it though.

  • Small Town Loner | April 11, 2013 1:42 AMReply

    More like...
    "Saturday Night Live" is Prince/For You
    "Delirious" is Dirty Mind
    "48 Hours" is Controversy
    "Trading Places" is 1999
    "Beverly Hills Cop" is Purple Rain
    "Beverly Hills Cop2/Golden Child" is Around the World In a Day
    "Coming to America" is Sign O' the Times
    "Eddie Murphy Raw" is Lovesexy
    "Harlem Nights" is Batman Soundtrack
    "Boomerang" is Diamonds and Pearls
    "The Nutty Professor" is Musicology

  • Adam Scott Thompson | April 10, 2013 10:40 PMReply

    "Delirious" is "Off The Wall;" "Raw" is "Thriller."

  • Donella | April 12, 2013 5:37 PM

    Bingo! Nicely done.

  • Shawanna | April 10, 2013 2:18 PMReply

    It's 2013 and I still have not seen a better stand up than RAW!

  • Daman | April 10, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    McDonald's skit is from Delirious. Good post tho.

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