Eddie Murphy wasn’t just OK on his long-awaited return to “Saturday Night Live,” he was “Otay!”
The comedy legend brought back classic characters like Buckwheat, Mister Robinson and Gumby, plus took the “SNL” stage with some all-stars when he hosted the show Saturday for the first time in 35 years.
Fellow “SNL” alumni Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan joined Murphy as well as Dave Chappelle during the comedian’s monologue on the holiday episode. “This is the last episode of 2019, but if you’re black, this is the first episode since I left back in 1984,” Murphy joked.
He discussed his new baby, his 10th child — “11 if you count Kevin Hart. … But if you would have told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring-stay at-home house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail, even I wouldn’t have taken that bet. Who is America’s dad now?!” Murphy cracked with a spot-on Cosby impression.
Rock, Morgan and Chappelle each took turns joining Murphy and joking about sketches they pitched for the episode and getting in various zingers. “Come on, man, I wouldn’t miss this for the world. My kids love Lizzo!” Rock said, referring to the night’s popular musical guest. Chappelle got in on the fun, too: “I followed your blueprint my entire career. I became the biggest star on television and then I quit.”
The show also featured Murphy as the dad toasting at a dysfunctional family dinner and a contestant in a holiday baking championship who turns a Sonic the Hedgehog cake into a hellish monstrosity with human teeth: “I think I just made a lot of bad choices. I don’t mean with the cake, I just mean with life in general.” (Murphy also let a four-letter curse word slip in that sketch, playfully covering his mouth with his hand.)
But for his longtime fans, the old “SNL” personalities he dusted off were highlights, including the return of his throwback Mister Rogers parody, “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood.”
“White people came and changed everything, but I am still your neighbor,” said Murphy’s grinning character. The word of the day? “Gentrification. It’s like a magic trick: White people pay a lot of money and — poof! — black people disappear.”
He gets visited by his white neighbors and a son (Chris Redd) he didn’t know he had, leading Mister Robinson to – like back in the day – get out of a bad situation through his fire escape: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll come back tomorrow when my kid’s not here.”
Murphy also was famous for playing “Little Rascals” personality Buckwheat back in the 1980s, and he returned in Saturday’s episode as a contestant on a corn-on-the-cob costume in a “Masked Singer” parody. Buckwheat lovably still can’t pronounce lyrics or song titles correctly, crooning “Aneese Nameena” (for “Feliz Navidad”) and “Tinga Nadies” (“Single Ladies”).
Murphy’s retro Velvet Jones also returned to learn about #MeToo for “Black Jeopardy,” and during “Weekend Update,” the comedian donned a familiar huge green costume to play angry cartoon character Gumby again. “They know who the hell it is. I’m Gumby, damn it!” Murphy yelled when Michael Che and Colin Jost introduced him. “You know why you two are behind this desk? Because your jokes don’t have legs.”