Eddie Murphy says he doesn’t regret his old jokes, but some of them do make him cringe.
In a new interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the 58-year-old comedian revealed that he still laughs at “some of” his old standups but admits that some of the jokes make him uncomfortable. “Some of it, I cringe when I watch it,” he added. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I said that.’”
He continued, “I’ve seen (old) stuff (now) where you go like, ‘Oh, that’s – ooh.’ Yeah, you get a joke every now and then that’s cringey. But that’s not to say I don’t appreciate it. I can still appreciate it. And I’m looking at it within the context of the time. I’m going, ‘Okay, I’m a kid saying that.’”
Murphy also noted that he received criticism for some of his older material, telling CBS “in the moment, you kind of was like, ‘It is what it is.’” After self-reflecting, the Brooklyn native said he has no regrets “whatsoever.”
Despite times being different, Murphy was not excluded from criticism back then. One of the comedian’s most popular standups, “Delirious,” was filled with controversial jokes about AIDS and gay people. The standup was released in 1983, but the comic sent out a statement in 1996 apologizing for his words after gay activists demanded “The Late Show with David Letterman” cancel his appearance.
“I deeply regret any pain all this has caused,” Murphy said in the statement. “Just like the rest of the world, I am more educated about AIDS in 1996 than I was in 1981,” Murphy said. “I know how serious an issue AIDS is the world over,” he added. “I know that AIDS isn’t funny. It’s 1996, and I’m a lot smarter about AIDS now.”
Murphy also said he had no regrets after calling out the Oscars back in 1988. Like today, the Oscars neglected communities of color within film, and Murphy made it a point to call attention to its lack of diversity. “I’m going to give this award, black people will not ride the caboose of society, and we’re not going to bring up the rear anymore,” Murphy said.
“At the time, did you have people saying, ‘Ooh, Eddie, you shouldn’t have done that,” the interviewer asked. “No,” he replied. “You know what’s interesting? After I said that, it went the exact opposite way. There was no mention – it was almost like I wasn’t at the awards that night. The next day, there was no mention of it in the papers. Not a blip. And there were no pictures of me at the Oscars.” The interviewer then mentioned how the comedian said he wouldn’t get nominated because of his remarks. “And then I didn’t get nominated for Oscars for years!” The journalist asked, “You think that had something to do with it?” Murphy replied, “I don’t know. What do you think?”
Murphy said that being comfortable with who he is and having God by his side is all he needs. “I’ve always been really comfortable in my skin. It’s ’cause I’ve always been grounded spiritually, you know? I believe in God, and I believe in prayer.”