When Eddie Murphy was a “Saturday Night Live” cast member in the early 1980s, he essentially saved the show and ushered it into a new era with some of the most iconic characters in the sketch series’ history.
Murphy hosted on Saturday for the first time since 1984, and to celebrate the occasion, Murphy brought back a few of the classic characters and sketches that he originated three decades ago.
It’s not uncommon, when a cast member comes back to host, that they’ll end up busting out a sketch everyone remembers them for — whenever Bill Hader hosts, you can bet money that you’ll probably see Stefon come out for a “Weekend Update” segment.
However, for Murphy, it’s been so long since he played his most iconic characters, the show needed a way to address the differences in social norms, culture and the world in general.
For the first sketch of the evening, Murphy revived his famous “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” sketch — a send-up of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”. After all these years, Mister Robinson still lives in the same run-down apartment, although the entire neighbourhood has been gentrified.
“I was gone for a bit, but now I’m all right. My neighbors were all black, but now they’re white. The cheque-cashing place turned into a bank; elevator works and the stairs they don’t stank. The white people came and changed everything, but I am still your neighbour,” Murphy’s Mister Robinson sang before explaining that the reason he’s still able to live in the building is also the Word of the Day: “Squatter’s Rights.”
Later, Murphy reprised his iconic take on Buckwheat from “The Little Rascals”, whose famous speech impediment was a defining element his sketches.
This time around, however, the sketch was framed as an episode of “The Masked Singer”, and Buckwheat — disguised in a giant Corn Cob costume — came out to sing “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” Due to his trademark voice, all four panelists guessed his identity immediately.
Bowen Yang played Ken Jeong, who told Buckwheat, “As a doctor, I’m comfortable diagnosing you as 100-per-cent juicy.”
Jeong himself, who appears to be a huge “SNL” fan (and would make an incredible host), couldn’t contain his excitement at being portrayed on the show. The comic tweeted a screenshot of Yang from the sketch, which he captioned, “Okay, I can die now.”
During “Weekend Update,” Michael Che and Colin Jost were interrupted by Murphy’s foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking Gumby, who delighted in insulting the pair and firing off tone-deaf insults in the way fans of Murphy’s “SNL” work loved about the gruff lump of living clay.
Finally, Murphy donned his finest blue suit play Velvet Jones — a self-help guru who teaches women how to be self-employed, successful “hos” — during an new instalment of the recurring “Black Jeopardy” sketch.
Most of the sketch addressed, head on, the way Velvet Jones’ character wouldn’t really fly with modern audiences, and how the tone of comedy has changed dramatically since the early 1980s.
Check out the video below to hear more from Murphy about his long-awaited return to the show.
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