At the opposite end of the triumphant Bill Burr taking on Philly, here is a tale of pure losing when the tribulations prove to be too much to surmount.
Most people know him as the brother of the hugely well-known Eddie Murphy or from his major role in “Chappelle’s Show,” but Charlie Murphy is a fairly successful standup comedian, actor and writer that can draw a more-than-modest crowd when he takes his standup act on tour. He isn’t the most poplar comedian out there, but he isn’t the most hated either (Murphy’s online review history has its share of both good and bad reviews). He has carved somewhat of a legacy all his own apart from his ridiculously successful brother — a proven, tried and true talent, Murphy has had his name attached to more than a few popular and critically acclaimed works.
All that being said, Charlie Murphy is an acquired taste in standup comedy that certain audiences aren’t going to respond to right off. This video of Murphy is clearly an indication of that — a baking-soda-and-vinegar formula waiting to blow. Combine a restless half-drunk college crowd with a more stylistically subtle, storyteller type standup comic (who is also most likely having an off night) — and you have a basic recipe just waiting for a giant kaboom.
I wish I could paint a more hilarious picture, but one can’t help but feel for Murphy when this bomb goes off (if you’re privy to the fact that Murphy had just recently lost his wife to cancer less than a year before this “meltdown”).
The Grambling State crowd has a reputation for being difficult and it is overly apparent that it wasn’t feasible for Murphy (who most likely was in a really dark place in his life) to even gain momentum enough to get through his set. During a different and much less documented string of shows in Pittsburgh, Murphy had also blown a couple of sets and rubbed a couple of audiences the wrong way. A stagetimemag.com review of these particular shows may have said it best:
“Murphy's performance serves as a lesson that sketch and stand up are two different art forms that require different skill sets. Murphy is clearly a better sketch performer than he is a stand up.”
As the crowd’s agitation and hostility continued to grow after each miserably failed attempt at anything even resembling a punchline, Murphy started to lose it. Inevitably it progressed into a deafening, clamorous reception of boos and jeers and the Grambling State crowd got under the skin of Charlie Murphy.
It just wasn’t his night and after hearing enough boos and negative responses, Murphy, fuming with rage, ended up calling someone from backstage to come up front and center with his check for the performance. He asked the man to hold up the check he was receiving for the gig in order to display it to the audience. Murphy then came unraveled. He threw the check on the ground, told the crowd they could have it back and preceded to expletively say goodbye to the audience with as much conviction as he could possibly muster — Murphy then stormed offstage in a fit of anger and resentment like a runt who just knocked out the neighborhood bully with one haymaker sucker-punch.
Of course, the audience went crazy — they got what they wanted: entertainment (Are you not entertained?!). I’m really not sure if the overwhelming audience reaction when Murphy dropped the microphone was anger or satisfaction… that I will leave up to the reader to decide.
Shortly thereafter, a DJ began to spin and the drunken college crowd danced the night away as if the whole thing never happened.
“Ya’ll can have it back. Good Night. Fuck you.”
(Referring to the payment for the performance).
Watch Charlie Murphy's meltdown below.