Charlie Murphy: So funny, even Juggalos can dig

"If someone else won't toot your horn for you, you've got to toot your own horn, you know what I mean?"
Photo by Scott Harrison

Charlie Murphy does not want to hear another “Fuck yo couch!” Though the comedian talked his way into fame with his cult favorite skits on the Chappelle Show, in which he shared the stories of hanging with Prince and Rick James back in the days he was brother Eddie’s security detail, that was then, this is now. Or, as he put it to me in a recent phone interview, “that was the Dave Chappelle show. This is the Charlie Murphy show.” Indeed. Murphy’s moved into his own spotlight, headlining his own stand up tour (coming to Cobb’s for a four night run beginning Wed/30) , and sassing up supporting roles in a whole slew of black ensemble comedies on the silver screen. God dammit, he’s a big deal. And even if he’s not gonna punch you in the face for not laughing at his act anymore (see below if that doesn’t make any sense), something tells me it behooves you to be amused anyway. Plus, he killed it at the Gathering of the Juggalos. Charlie Murphy’s on the way!


San Francisco Bay Guardian: You've got a lot of projects coming out now, a whole lot of movies opening soon.

Charlie Murphy: Yeah I have this movie with Bow Wow, The Lottery Ticket, that's coming out in August, and also the Cookout 2. And right now, I have my DVD [Charlie Murphy: I Will Not Apologize] out, and my book, Charlie Murphy: The Making of a Stand Up Guy. It's all about me keeping people aware of the fact that I'm here and I'm doing this. You got to put your best foot forward at all times.


SFBG: Definitely. That's a lot of stuff. Is there one project that you were particularly excited about?

CM: My DVD. When I first started doing stand up, no one took me seriously. It was like, he can go on stage and he can make the crowd laugh, but you really think he's going to stick around with that? Like, this guy, he's not really one of us. But I did stick around, and I did extremely well. If someone else won't toot your horn for you, you've got to toot your own horn, you know what I mean? You don't just show up and start doing stand up comedy, and go on a world tour and sell out everywhere, and don't have bad shows. I did that. And I'm not bragging about it. 


SFBG: Uh huh. 

CM: I'm humble about the fact that I was given the opportunity to live up to the opportunity I was given. But at the same time, no one else was acting like what I did was an accomplishment. So that's why I put the book together, that's why I put the DVD together, because everyone was talking about that Chris Rock went over to Europe, to South Africa, to all that. That was supposed to be the biggest comedy tour ever, it was international. Little did everybody know that Charlie Murphy did the same thing. The same year. But I didn't have a deal with HBO, you know what I'm saying? 


SFBG: You had the advantage of having people in your family that had made that jump into international celebrity before you. The moment that you realized that Eddie was going to be super famous, how did that compare to the moment that you realized that hey, you were going to be famous, too?

CM: There's no comparison because I can't feeling another person's feelings, so I don't know what that felt like for him. I was proud of him, but I can't eat his bread. There's no meal in that for me. 


SFBG: Did I see a Youtube video of you performing at an Insane Clown Posse concert? Did that happen?

CM: Yeah, yeah, I was with the Juggalos, and I would love to do another one.


SFBG: How did that happen?

CM: It was in the woods at night. How it happened -- to this day I couldn't answer your question 100%. I didn't think it was going to work out the way it did.


SFBG: But they loved you. You could see from the video.

CM: It was mad love, mad love. That was an experience for me because I was told to expect the exact opposite.


SFBG: They have that reputation of being kind of belligerent.

CM: But what I did was I was belligerent with them. So we had a great time.


SFBG: Got along great, then.

CM: Got along just great.


SFBG: I do want to ask you one question about the Chappelle Show. When you heard that he was leaving the show – first of all, how did you hear about it, and second of all, what were your thoughts when you heard he was... taking off?

CM: Disbelief. Didn't no one believe it when it first took place. I didn't believe -- or understand why. But looking back, it was probably the best thing because I wouldn't have done all the stand up I have done, and I wouldn't have been around as many people that I've been around had that show kept going, because that was the Dave Chappelle Show, not the Charlie Murphy show. This is the Charlie Murphy show. I'd much rather be at the Charlie Murphy show than anybody else's show. 


SFBG: You said at one point you moved away from bodyguarding because you became a little too zealous with how you were carrying out -

CM: No no no no. The point I was trying to say was that I'm not a bodyguard, in the sense of a professional. I'm a bodyguard in the sense of, if you mess with anybody in my family I better not be around to hear about it. With my brother, all this stuff was happening, he was being heralded and hyped up as this special person, and we were very proud of him. And as a byproduct of that, if you see somebody going against that, you get very animated. You know, this person is personally threatening your family member, and a special one at that. So I would get extra hyped, and it was very easy to get me to jump on somebody. Several things like... you're not laughing. Everybody's laughing, and one person's not laughing. They might be sitting there with a stomachache. I don't even think about that. It's like, what's your face like that for? And I wanna beat you up. And I would jump on it.


SFBG: Would you go out into the audience?

CM: We'd be in the audience! We'd be walking in the audience, [if] somebody had an attitude, we'd give them a whip.


SFBG: Is getting punched in the face something we should be concerned about if we go to your show in San Francisco? 

CM: No. I'm a professional, and everyone that travels with me is as well. We focus on one thing, living up to the hype, doing a great show, and making sure people want to see us again. Period. So I'm trying to make friends. Make love not war, that's how it go.


SFBG: Cool. Anything else you want us to know?

CM: Just tell them I'm getting ready to come there and tear it down! Charlie Murphy's on the way.


Charlie Murphy

Wed/30 (through Sat/3) 8 p.m. (also 10:15 p.m., Fri and Sat), $28.50-32.50

Cobb’s Comedy Club

915 Columbus, SF

(415) 928-4320