Charlie Murphy started doing stand-up comedy about 20 years after his younger brother, Eddie. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Eddie tasted superstardom success at an early age. For older brother Charlie, now 48, he’s just getting his taste of it, post-Chappelle’s Show (Murphy performs Friday-Saturday at Carolines as part of the New York Comedy Festival). And he thinks he’s the better for it.
"Definitely. I’m in love with the game of standup. I’ve got an audience of people listening to me. That’s the best job in the world," he told me over the phone while driving on Interstate 80. "When you’re younger, you got less repsonsibility, and you’re more subject to peril, if you don’t have a strong support group around you. Because there’s wovles out there. When you’re older, you see all this s–t going down but you’re too old to participate. You don’t have the recovery time!…Patron and s–t. No, man I can’t do that."
He’s more than happy to participate in this week’s festival, considering what Caroline Hirsch and company have done to help him out. "Carolines has given me a lot of love over the years, so I’ve got to give some love back," he said. "Whatever they want from Charlie Murphy, they can have it. They even let me go onstage when I had no act."
No act? Really? What was that like?
"Very nervewracking," he said. "I had no act. I had zero. They said we want you to find something about yourself. Do not try to be funny. Do not try to crack a joke. Just go up there and talk about things like you’d talk to us. All the funny stuff came later, the punchlines, the callbacks and all of that."
Just then, a thought distracts him. "I smell pancake syrup in my car?! I went to the Outhouse of Pancakes this morning, but I didn’t have pancakes, man! I keep smelling syrup."
Thankfully, his driving distractions usually serve up his best material. "The best time is soon as you wake up in the morning. When I wake up, I don’t brush my teeth, I get in the car and get away from everyone, get in the car and drive off. Stuff pops up. Bing! Bing! And I write it down, then I talk to my homeys, start working it out."
What has the Internet done for comedy? "The Internet has made a lot of people famous," he said. "I didn’t take advantage of the Internet like I should’ve. I have a MySpace and charliemurphy.com, but all of that is this year. There are people who have big friendship places on the Internet, when theygo on the road, they hit download and boom it’s sold out. Pablo Francisco sold out 10,000 seats in Sweden. How’d he do that? He put his show on the Internet. He was on there beforehand so people could see him." You can see Murphy online. He claims his material online has gotten "2.5 million hits, and I get nothing from that."
Sounds like the Writers Guild strike. But that’s another blog post.
You can also see Murphy in the upcoming movie, The Perfect Holiday, which opens Dec. 12.