Optics: Eddie Murphy — Delirious

By Darren Young

Nostalgia can be a wonderful thing. This is especially true for a celebrity whose peak popularity came about 20 years ago, and who’s looking to make a comeback. In this re-release of his 1983 stand-up routine, Eddie Murphy is looking into the face of the past and seeing just how funny he used to be.

Though Eddie Murphy’s Delirious tour was nearly two decades ago, the material has not lost its relevance. Sure, some day down the road it’ll probably be insufficient to make jokes about farts and Ralph Kramden getting fucked in the ass by Ed Norton and expect a laugh, but for now, these sorts of things have dodged the dead-joke bullet. The subject matter is crude and infantile, but Murphy delivers it with such confidence and timing it feels acceptable to laugh at his childishness. Even so, he does make the occasional misstep.

At one point during the set, Murphy discusses the wacky antics of his family at their annual cookout. Specifically, he imitates his father in a drunken stupor and in this character lectures his uncle about burning down the backyard. The rant starts hysterically but fades to a whimper by the end, rambling into incoherence. As long as Murphy stays focused on the punchline, however, his delivery is strong and offers enough motivation to keep watching.

While the name Eddie Murphy may have lost some of its intrigue in recent years, Delirious recalls why it was ever notable. If Murphy is in fact looking to reclaim his bad boy status from the clutches of Dr. Doolittle, then the dvd release of Delirious is a good first step.

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