Comic hotshot Eddie Murphy, one of the highest-paid young entertainers in America, wasted no time demonstrating to last night's sold-out Constitution Hall crowd exactly what his tone for the entire evening would be. "I got some rules when I throw down," he warned the crowd. "All people that get offended easily, y'all should just get the ---- out now. I do some nasty ----. And I don't do none of that ----ing Saturday Night Live ---- here. If you paid to see it, you're a stupid ------------."
Sheathed in a skintight red leather suit, zipped open to the navel, Murphy entered the bare stage to chants of "Ed-die!" and delivered his manifesto, then launched a barrage of homosexual jokes, followed with jokes about why wife-beating is dangerous now, anatomical differences between the races, racism and a brutal lampoon of his father drunk at a family barbecue.
Murphy seemed desperate for laughs and mistrustful of his material, shooting the typical sentence through with so many expletives that the obscene words often outnumbered the nouns and verbs. The crowd seemed desperate to love Eddie Murphy, cheering each scatalogical reference as they waited for a real comic situation to emerge.
This is not to say Murphy is not an immensely talented performer. He has a fine sense of comic timing, is comfortable with ad-libbing, uses his face and body to portray a wide range of characters, and his impressions (of Michael Jackson, Ricky Ricardo, Elvis Presley and other pop culture figures) are razor-sharp. And Murphy showed several flashes of true wit, with a quick riff on people going back to their offices and mutilating his jokes.
Murphy seemed to want to end on a serious note, but sold out for a cheap laugh. "There was a black lady who wanted to sing opera here--Marian Anderson. And she couldn't sing in this place 'cause it was segregated. Well, here we are, 20 years later, and a 22-year-old black male is getting paid to stand on stage and hold his ----."
Since last night's show (and tonight's) was taped for airplay on Home Box Office, the audience benefited from better than usual lighting and sound.
Although they suffered from the overamplification, the opening act, the Bus Boys--who appeared in Murphy's debut movie "48 Hrs."--were genuinely funny, with clever lyrics about American workers, and a tight, well-planned act.