Q&A: Charlie Murphy Says We Gotta Do Better

Charlie Murphy drops into the Improv this weekend, but last week Houston Press Assistant Night & Day Editor Dusti Rhodes called him up to ask him about being Eddie Murphy’s brother, his time on the The Chappelle Show and his new show on BET, We Gotta Do Better. Here’s what he had to say …

Dusti Rhodes: Was it hard when you first started standup because you had to not only deal with the normal obstacles of being a comedian but also living up to being Eddie Murphy’s brother? How did you deal with that?

Charlie Murphy: The way I dealt with it was by not caring about it. When I first did stand up my first words to the audience was “I don’t care if you don’t like me. I don’t care if you think this is funny. I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing this for me and if you don’t like what I’m saying then fuck you.” And they thought that was funny that I said that, but that was how I really felt. “I’m not here for you to approve.”

It’s interesting that you had that attitude because I was also wondering how you felt about the negative reaction to your show on BET, We Gotta Do Better [formerly Hot Ghetto Mess]. How did you respond to those who felt like the show was insulting to blacks?

As a black man, do you think it would be in my best interest to do anything that would deface, defame or belittle my own people?

Exactly.

Right. In other words, do I strike you as a dumb person? You know what I’m saying? …[W]hen the show came out all the people who had something negative to say shut up together. They all shut up together because they realized they pulled the trigger before they should have because I was not doing anything remotely of what they accused me of doing. And all those people owe me an apology but none of them stepped up and said “I apologize” so that shows you their true character.

When you first started doing the show were you nervous about that reaction or afraid of what you might find?

I’m always nervous. I’m always nervous. I’m only nervous about one thing: being accepted. As far as what I’m doing with the material that I’m doing, I’m never nervous about that. I’m nervous about being accepted; someone looking at me and accepting me enough to listen to me because I’ve experienced rejection from people without them even listening. I’ve experienced rejection on just showing up and that was mind boggling to me. People refuse to accept Charlie Murphy because [they say] “I’ve been calling you Eddie Murphy’s brother all my life; I refuse to think outside the box that’s all you can be to me is Eddie Murphy’s brother.”

Did you encounter that more after being on The Chappelle Show?

I think the problem is less now because of The Chappelle Show because anybody who sees that show and laughs, how can they come to me and go – you can’t really go “well, I’m laughing because you’re Eddie Murphy’s brother”…

Yeah, a lot of people don’t realize you were on The Chappelle Show, they think you were just on to tell stories for “Real Hollywood Stories.”

Exactly. And that’s kind of hard – think about what you just said – a lot of people don’t realize that and those same people went out and bought DVDs with my name all over it. So who are we talking about here? Are we talking about smart people?

Is that kind of the same attitude you take with We Got To Do Better?

Yes. I talk on a regular level where anybody should be able to understand and if you still don’t get it you definitely are stupid. I’m coming very basic and there are still people that don’t get it, and I understand why there are some people who aren’t on the same page.

Murphy performs at the The Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway, at 8 p.m. Thursday, and 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improv2.com. $30.

-- Dusti Rhodes

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