Tag Archive: charlie murphy


Bleek_Gilliam_Quintet

A beautiful Terrance Blanchard composition.

And within this clip, Denzel, Wesley, Giancarlo, John Turturro, CHARLIE MURPHY!!!

And Spike…man.

(smiling)

Enjoy!

Already one of the most popular stand up comedians working, Dave Chappelle would bring his mix of supreme silliness and racial comedy to cable television with Chappelle’s Show.  There are those who would argue that the short life span of the show has raised its status to a level it didn’t deserve.  And they may be right.

Or are they?  Using five sketches from the show, let’s look at the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  The opening skit of Chappelle’s Show was a mock episode of PBS’ Frontline.  The episode was about one of the country’s leading white supremacists, Clayton Bigsby.  Blind from birth, Bigsby’s work has made him a hero to the movement.  There’s just, um, one minor detail no one has mentioned to Mr. Bigsby – he’s actually a black man himself.  Filled with the kind of intelligent and dead-on satire that would define the show, this particular skit’s closing line said it all: “When I asked him (Bigsby) why he divorced his wife, he said, ‘Cause she’s a nigger-lover.’  WOW.

Legacy:  Dave got criticized and ridiculed left and right for walking away from $50 million.  One of the primary reasons he gave for quitting was feeling like some were no longer laughing with him, but laughing at him.  A good example of the type of sketch he was referring to was the sketch about the white family whose last name just happened to be Nyggar.  My father was a typical brother who grew up in the rural South during the 50s and 60s; I’ve only seen him laugh so hard he had to leave the room twice in my lifetime.  The Nyggar Family was one of those times.  On the flip side of the coin, I’ll never forget hanging out with some white acquaintances who felt like reciting the sketch for me, verbatim, and feeling absolutely paralyzed.

I say all this to say, from an artist point of view, especially a black artist, this may have been the best example in the history of the Industry of the hypothetical, ‘How much are you willing to pay for your soul?”  (And I’ve heard Dave imply this exact sentiment and other interviews he’s given since the show ended).

Craft:  There’s the racial humor like the two sketches above that are based on the historical racism blacks have had to deal with in this country.  But where Chappelle’s Show really broke through was applying the Seinfeld/Cosby-esque everyday life humor through a black lens.  We dark-skinned types have been known to have problems with dry skin.  When the ‘World Series of Dice’ sketch introduced the world to Ashy Larry, it wasn’t the first or last time a character or joke on this show COMPLETELY overshadowed the sketch that created it.  Marcy Son, What?!?

Crossover:  So there was one particular catchphrase that just took pop culture by storm.  In one particular episode, Charlie Murphy (Eddie’s older brother) told a series of stories about run-ins he had with a certain 70s/80s funk icon.  Now there were at least five other great quotables from these stories (in no particular order, “Phuck yo’ couch!”, “We were called the Darkness Brothers, see, this was before Wesley Snipes…”, “Cocaine is hell of a drug…”, “They shoulda never given you niggas money!”, and of course, the absolute killer “What did the five fingers say to the face?”)  The one that ruled them all though was the singer’s very over-the-top self-introduction.  His name is on the tip of my tongue; what was it again?

Apollo:  The style of comedy Chappelle does was custom made for this category (as if all the previous examples hadn’t illustrated that).  To keep it simple, let’s go with the one everybody knows.  It started as a biting (but funny) crack made by comedy legend Paul Mooney: “White people love Wayne Brady, because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X.”  Fast forward to season 2, where Dave decided to ‘make peace’ and hang out with Wayne.  From the moment you hear, “Oh shit!  It’s Wayne Brady son!”, you already know it’s over.  Wayne’s willingness to completely mock his own white bread, goody two shoes image won him points with everybody, and is still as funny today as it was the night it aired.

And…then there were two.  The second most important TV show will be up shortly…