Eddie Murphy says controversial SNL joke about his career ‘was racist’

Eddie Murphy has said that a controversial joke made at his expense on Saturday Night Live was a “cheap shot” and “racist”

The actor, who has reprised the role of Axel Foley for a fourth Beverly Hills Cop film that will be released on Netflix this week, recalled being the source of such jibes throughout his career in a new interview.

One such joke arrived in 1995, shortly after Murphy’s new film at the time, Vampire in Brooklyn, became a box office bomb. On SNL, comedian David Spade, as part of his “Hollywood Minute” sketch, showed a photo of Murphy, stating: “Look children, it’s a falling star. Make a wish.”

Murphy, who had been a comedian on the US sketch show years before, said of the comment: “It was like: ‘Yo, it’s in-house! I’m one of the family, and you’re f***ing with me like that?’ It hurt my feelings like that.”

He told The New York Times: “I’m the biggest thing that ever came off that show. The show would have been off the air if I didn’t go back on the show, and now you got somebody from the cast making a crack about my career? And I know that he can’t just say that. A joke has to go through these channels.

“So the producers thought it was OK to say that. And all the people that have been on that show, you’ve never heard nobody make no joke about anybody’s career. Most people that get off that show, they don’t go on and have these amazing careers.

Murphy said the joke “was personal”, adding: “It was like, ‘Yo, how could you do that?’ My career? Really? A joke about my career? So I thought that was a cheap shot. And it was kind of, I thought – I felt it was racist.”

Murphy wouldn’t return to SNL for 20 years, making an appearance for the series’s 40th anniversary special in 2015. He then hosted his own episode in 2019, telling the outlet: “In the long run, it’s all good. Worked out great.”

He said that he is “cool with” Spade and the show’s creator Lorne Michaels.

In 2015, Spade called the joke “stupid” and said of Murphy’s angry response in his memoir: “I’ve come to see Eddie’s point on this one. Everybody in showbiz wants people to like them. That’s how you get fans. But when you get reamed in a sketch or online or however, that s*** staaaangs. And it can add up quickly.”

David Spade poked fun at Eddie Murphy’s career on ‘SNL’ in 1995 (YouTubeq)
David Spade poked fun at Eddie Murphy’s career on ‘SNL’ in 1995 (YouTubeq)

The Independent has contacted Spade for comment.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F will be released on Netflix on Wednesday (3 July).