Returning for its 45th season starting Saturday, Sept. 28, “Saturday Night Live” recently released their jam-packed fall lineup. Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, David Harbour and Kristen Stewart are among those taking the coveted hosting duty backed by Billie Elish, Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello as musical guests. The last show date of the year–Dec. 21–offered fans of the legendary show with the ultimate surprise. For the first time in 35 years, Eddie Murphy–one of the greatest comedians of all time–will finally makes his grand return to Studio 8H.
Being a cast member from 1980 to 1984, Murphy is often credited with helping the show get back on its feet after a difficult couple of years. At the time, creator Lorne Michaels left his position after the 1979-1980 season and previous high profile cast members Gilda Radner and John Belushi took their exit as well. This transition resulted in the next season being one of the most low-rated seasons in history, but that was soon to change.
At just 19 years old, a young Murphy dominated the sketch show with his fearless presence and notable characters. “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party” is among many skits that showcase his early brilliance. Only being a little over two minutes, the performance revolves around Murphy impersonating the legendary showman as he attempts to get in a hot tub. Backed by a funky band, Murphy perfectly embodies the essence of Brown as he incorporates his famous ad-libs and often duplicated dance moves. Other notable sketches include the children’s show parody “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” and his hilarious take on Gumby, which included many iconic moments still referenced today.
Since his departure from the show, Murphy ended up having an explosive movie career. He has received many Golden Globe Award nominations for his performances in films like “The Nutty Professor” and “Trading Places.” In 2007, his role as soul singer James “Thunder” Early in “Dreamgirls” gained him a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and an Academy Award nomination in the same category.
During his appearance in Jerry Seinfield’s Netflix series “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” earlier this year, Murphy announced the possibility of returning to stand-up for the first time since 1987’s “Raw”–causing rumours regarding an upcoming Netflix deal. Since then, Murphy has been easing back into the limelight with his upcoming Netflix film “Dolemite Is My Name”–streaming on Oct. 25. Murphy will also be reprising his role as Prince Akeem once again for a sequel to 1988’s “Coming to America.”
Although he hasn’t participated in “Saturday Night Live” since 1984, Murphy did make a short appearance at the 40th anniversary special in 2015. Following a retrospective tribute from former SNL alum and stand-up powerhouse Chris Rock, Murphy discussed how the show has always been a big part of who he is. His brief speech gained more applause than some of the actual sketches that night. This further proved how respected he still is–especially in a room filled with some of the funniest people in the show’s lengthy history.
It will be interesting to see if Murphy will put a 2019 twist to his most famous characters, but new sketch material from him will be just as wonderful. After years of not being in the spotlight as much as he used to be, it just makes this upcoming show more exciting than ever. We can’t wait to see all the laughs he has in store for us in December.
Rylee Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.