Eddie Murphy returned to host Saturday Night Live and proved why he’s one of the all-time greats.
Christmas came early for Saturday Night Live fans and they couldn’t be happier with the gift that was Eddie Murphy as host. After a 35 year gap, Murphy returned to the stage that helped make him a star.
Saturday Night Live was well aware of what it had when Murphy agreed to host this season. The show began teasing Murphy’s return way back in August. The announcement immediately built hype for season 45 and what would be this year’s Christmas episode.
Prior to the show, Last Night On looked at whether or not expectations were too high for Murphy’s return. In a season lacking in truly memorable moments or sketches, Eddie Murphy back on Saturday Night Live was going to be the most talked about moment of the year one way or another.
But Murphy put any uncertainty to rest after a quality monologue and opening sketch that saw the return of “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood.” Credit goes to Murphy and the writers for finding a way to make the famous character relevant in 2019.
Often when a former cast member returns and revives a character, the laughs and applause can be a bit superficial. The audience almost sounds like it is reacting to the memory of what the character was rather than the substance of the sketch in front of them. But that didn’t seem to be the case here.
Even if fans in 2019 were being introduced to Mister Robinson for the first time, this sketch would have been among the most popular of the night. Younger fans unfamiliar with Murphy’s work in the 1980s could still appreciate the sketch while longtime Murphy fans no doubt appreciated seeing one of SNL’s best characters back on stage.
Those fans were rewarded again and again throughout the night as Murphy played his greatest hits. The writers struck a good balance between bringing back Murphy’s characters and putting the talented comedian in original sketches. Murphy had admitted he was thinking about which characters he wanted to bring back long before preparations for his show began.
Those characters included Buckwheat who found himself in an episode of The Masked Singer. Even better than that was Gumby taking over “Weekend Update” and showing no mercy against Colin Jost and Michael Che.
The “Weekend Update” featured the best energy from Murphy. It also featured the closest thing to Murphy going off script and feeling out the energy of the audience and letting that dictate his performance. It’s not often that Cecily Strong’s Jeanine Pirro is overshadowed on “Weekend Update” but it’s just about impossible to follow Gumby.
Murphy brought a similar energy to the “North Pole News Report” sketch. It was one of the night’s best and one that didn’t rely on Murphy’s past characters. The sketch will surely be included in Saturday Night Live‘s best Christmas sketches in the future.
There was a time when Eddie Murphy was the biggest star in the world. Saturday night, he was back in the spotlight and he absolutely delivered. Few performers in the history of Saturday Night Live could take 35 years off between appearances and still come in with the hype and anticipation that came with Eddie Murphy. And nobody but Murphy could then live up and exceed those expectations.
With the success of his turn as host, it’s hard to know what it means for the future of Eddie Murphy and Saturday Night Live. He may take the approach of now wiping his hands of it after proving that he could still bring the house down. Or the warm reception and accolades could motivate Murphy to come back somewhere down the line.
Regardless of his decision, Murphy only added to his legacy after hosting the 2019 Christmas episode. He was one of the most uniquely talented performers ever to come through Saturday Night Live and had an undeniable influence on not only the show but an entire generation of comedians.
What did you think of Eddie Murphy’s performance as host of Saturday Night Live? Did you think it was too much nostalgia or did you want Murphy to remind everyone why he’s one of the best? Let us know in the comment section below.