Eddie Murphy on When to Walk Away

Steve Love  —  the owner and promoter of the New York bar Dolphin’s Cove —  proposed a deal to a 14-year-old Eddie Murphy. For every minute the aspiring comedian performed, he would match it with a dollar. Murphy remembers walking from his home to the bar to perform material he spent hours molding.

Stand-up comedy is one of the simplest forms of entertainment. A comedian  stands on a stage and speaks. You’re either funny, or not funny. Between 1982 and 1987, Eddie Murphy released three comedy specials that undoubtedly made him peers with comedy’s best, Delirious and Raw being the two most memorable.

Raw received a wide theatre release and grossed $50 million in 1987. Murphy was 27-years-old at the time and never returned to produce another stand-up special, his career transitioned to acting full-time. There were moments when critics questioned his role selection, but Murphy never retreated to his comforts. If certain career choices didn’t pan out, he could always return to the stage. If he couldn’t land himself a half-hour HBO special, he could give Steve Love a call and reclaim his spot at Dolphin’s Cove.

But Eddie Murphy was uninterested in doing something he no longer enjoyed, even if it meant living without stability. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he cites his loss of interest as the reason he walked away from stand-up:

“It stopped being fun. In the beginning, it was fun, then I was controversial. Whenever I would do anything, there would be picketing, negative backlash.”

Stepping away from a career that provides you with stability demands maturity and a strong sense of self. Passion and interest sometimes wane  —  even if they provide us with security. Continuing to do something because you’re comfortable is easy. Asking yourself whether you’re still engaged and in love with what you’re doing is difficult.

Eddie Murphy has yet to return to stand-up, even after a 27 year hiatus. He is uninterested in performing something that he doesn’t find joy in. Take time and ask if what you’re doing is in line with your passions.

“I’m not that guy in the leather suit anymore. The hardest thing for comics nowadays is to find your fucking voice.”

Eddie Murphy tells it like it is. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for insight, wisdom and notices for when our posts go live.

Further Reading:

Eddie Murphy Speaks: The Rolling Stone Interview


Image Credit: fdrmx.com

Akhil Shiv Kumar

About Akhil Shiv Kumar

Akhil Shiv Kumar is an English student at Ryerson University. His writing focuses on athletes, social activists and people you might have never heard of. If you like, or even dislike, Akhil’s writing, go ahead and let him know on Twitter @akhilshivkumar.