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To the joy and excitement of comedy fans everywhere, the news came out last year that legendary comedian Eddie Murphy would be returning to stand-up. It had been a long time since the comedian turned actor had stood in front of a microphone to tell jokes so he needed a bit of help to shake off the rust. Eddie Murphy got some solid advice from fellow actor and comedian Jamie Foxx when he was getting back into comedy, as Foxx recalled:
When I go talk to Eddie, I was at Eddie’s house and he was talking about getting back into comedy, into stand up. But he’s like, ‘How?’ I said, ‘Eddie, if you want to get back into it I can help you. First thing you gotta do is fix your house.’ He’s like, ‘What you mean?’ I said, ‘Your house is too perfect. You’ve got the candles scented and all that shit.’ I said, ‘Eddie at my crib, I have shit at my house that doesn’t work on purpose so I stay funny.’ I got this little carpet that’s in the kitchen that’s sort of ruffled up. And I got a bathroom where you turn on the faucet and it sprays out. My daughter’s like, ‘Why don’t you fix that?’ I said, ‘I feel like if I fix all this shit I won’t be funny.’
You’ve got to love how one comedian’s advice to another about getting back into comedy is basically a funny joke in and of itself. As Jamie Foxx recalled in a discussion on The Hollywood Reporter’s Actors Roundtable, Eddie Murphy wanted to get back into comedy, but he wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. So Eddie Murphy turned to Jamie Foxx, who similarly has been a comedian and a movie star.
Interestingly, Jamie Foxx’s advice about getting back into comedy wasn’t what you might expect. He didn’t tell Eddie Murphy to go do some open mics just to knock the cobwebs off or any sort of exercise. Nor did he tell him how he should go about it in terms of whether to do SNL first or a special or a tour or anything like that.
No, Jamie Foxx’s advice was more about getting Eddie Murphy back into a place where he could be funny and that meant fixing his house, or more accurately, breaking it. Jamie Foxx told Eddie Murphy that his house was too perfect and that in order to be funny again that had to change. This is based on Jamie Foxx’s own experiences and belief that if his house and living situation are too perfect, he won’t be able to be funny.
Both Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy have achieved tremendous success in their careers but in Jamie Foxx’s mind, when you attain that top level of success, it gets harder because more is expected of you. And although that success has allowed both of them the luxury of living in lavish, perfect homes, Jamie Foxx seems to believe if he does that, he will lose some of his ability to be funny. So he always leaves things broken or imperfect or flawed on purpose, much to his daughter’s chagrin.
It might sound silly, but it may also be really solid advice. Comedy often comes from pain and from the shortcoming of everyday life. It is life’s imperfections that provide the inspiration for comedians to be funny. Just look at Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm; it is the absurdities of life that comedians hone in on and what catalyzes that comedic thought process.
If you live in a perfect home, those imperfections may be just slightly harder to see, so by remedying that, you can be funny again. It seems like Jamie Foxx’s methodology is just a smart way for him to retain his edge and have that ability to be funny.
I’m not sure whether Eddie Murphy took Jamie Foxx’s advice and blew out the candles and broke his faucet, but Eddie Murphy is surely back. The comedy superstar returned to Saturday Night Live last year to rave reviews. Murphy also knocked it out of the park in Dolemite Is My Name and he’s got Coming 2 America and Beverly Hills Cop 4 in the works. That’s in addition to his stand-up plans.
It seems that this burgeoning Murphyssance is just getting started.