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Straight talk with comedian Charlie Murphy

Colette Greenstein | 11/14/2012, 9:17 a.m.
Comedian Charlie Murphy performs a stand-up routine. (Photo courtesy of...
Comedian Charlie Murphy performs a stand-up routine. 3000 Eyes Entertainment

Charlie Murphy — you hear that name and automatically think of the “Chapelle’s Show” skit “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories,” based on his real-life encounters with Rick James and Prince in the 1980s when he worked for his brother Eddie Murphy as his security guard.  Murphy became a household name as a result of his appearances on the critically-acclaimed “Chapelle’s Show” on Comedy Central.

Since his rise to fame, Murphy has gone on to become a successful stand-up comedian and has appeared in movies such as “Lottery Ticket” and “Our Family Wedding” and on the TBS series “Are We There Yet?”  He also voiced the character Ed Wuncler III on the Cartoon Network’s “The Boondocks” and is currently in Los Angeles filming Ashton Kutcher’s prank show, “Who Gets The Last Laugh,” where celebrities prank regular people and a celebrity guest directs each episode. Charlie will direct and star in an upcoming show.

Murphy was at The Wilbur Theatre in Boston last Friday and answered several questions via email about his stand-up career, “Chappelle’s Show,” and who makes him laugh these days.

When I first saw you do stand-up it was with the “I’m Rich B… Tour” with Bill Burr and Donnell Rawlings. How has your comedy evolved since then?

I found my voice. I figured out what I wanted to talk about. When I first started, I was trying to figure out what the audience wanted to hear. Now I tell them what they want to hear. I have more life experiences to draw from as well. I’ve learned to talk about my family, raising my kids as a single dad and the passing of my wife.

Has your brother, Eddie Murphy, ever given you any feedback or advice about your stand-up?

Advice? No. But he pulled my coattail when I was tripping about bombing on a show very early in my stand-up career. I called him like at 3 a.m. one night after a show and told him I bombed. He said, “Who do you think you are?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Richard Pryor bombed. Cosby bombed. Red Foxx bombed. I’ve bombed.” So I’ll ask you again, “Who do you think you are?” That conversation put things into perspective for me.

“Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” was one of the funniest skits on “Chappelle’s Show.” Did you ever think it would have the impact that it did?

When we shot it, I didn’t think it would amount to much. I mean, I knew what we shot was funny but it wasn’t until we shot the wraparounds and I saw the audience’s reaction that I knew we had something special.

You’ve traveled all over the world performing.  How have international audiences received your comedy?

Audiences around the globe receive my comedy just like American audiences [do]. My comedy is universal. We’re all human. Everyone takes a sh*t. I love overseas crowds. They give it up big time. They show a lot of love.

How did your autobiography, “The Making of a Stand-Up Guy,” come about?