Catching up (again) with Charlie Murphy, a standup guy
When we last talked to Charlie Murphy, back in March, he talked about his upcoming book, "Charlie Murphy: The Making of a Stand-Up Guy." Well, it hits store shelves today and Murphy is busy promoting it and his burgeoning stand-up comedy career.
Yesterday, I talked with Murphy by phone to get a preview of what to expect from the book, his plans for interstellar entertainment and how he feels about one of brother Eddie's movies topping the Hollywood Reporter's list of film flops of the new century. Turns out that part wasn't so funny.
Read on for the full Q and A...
Liz: I know this book is going to sell well with Charlie Murphy fans, but if there was one audience you could reach with your story, who would it be?
Charlie Murphy: Everyone, that's who I'd like to see read it. The book is for everyone. Everybody that's a Charlie Murphy fan, if there's anything you want to know about me besides "Chappelle's Show" or my stand up shows, all the information's in there.
Liz: What do you consider the biggest lesson someone can take away from your book? Are there things you feel that you've learned that people will pick up on reading the book?
Charlie Murphy: All of the above. The best thing about it is that my book -- in spite of having that kind of content -- is still funny. When I was dealing with Simon & Schuster in the beginning they were like, "we want your book to be funny," and I was like, "I'm not going to write a joke book. I'm going to tell my story in my own words and that will be funny." And they were like, "We have to be sure it's going to be funny." So we did one draft with the wrong writer. We all universally agreed he was the wrong writer, so then we got Chris Mills and he was able to translate my voice to paper very well.
Liz: The book is subtitled "The Making of a Stand-Up Guy." Are you in stand up for the duration now?
Charlie Murphy: I have to. The reason why I'm where I am right now is because I committed to it. I never went into this thinking I'd do this for a couple of months or a couple of years and get out of it. It was like, "I'm gonna do this." So, yes, it's a life-long commitment. It's also another dimension to what I do because I'm an actor, too. Each thing helps the other one out.
Liz: On the acting front, you've got some projects coming up soon. Tell me about "Our Family Wedding" (due in theaters in March) with America Ferrera.
Charlie Murphy: Very funny movie. It's America Ferrera, Forest Whitaker, Taye Diggs, Carlos Mencia -- the movie is very funny. It's about two families, one Mexican and one is black. Their oldest children fall in love and they're getting married and the whole story centers around the wedding and the culture clash that takes place.
Liz: How is your Web series "Crash Comedy" (NSFW) going?
Charlie Murphy: It's doing fine. As a matter of fact we had a "Crash Comedy" comedy show at Caroline's this weekend. The whole crew came down and we ripped it up. Dave Chappelle came, too.
Liz: The book describes your childhood -- and your brother Eddie's -- in detail. Now that you're a dad, how do you see your kids -- similar or very different from you as a kid?
Charlie Murphy: Well, my kids are different than me in the fact that none of them are as bad a kid as I was.
Liz: I think you're overselling the bad guy stuff.
Charlie Murphy: No, I was Dennis the Menace. I'm the only one that seemed to have that spirit and everybody else was born with a pretty good head on your shoulders.
Liz: Well, there are different paths from point A to point B, right?
Charlie Murphy: Yeah, I took the zigzag route.
Liz: So do you see any of your kids showing an interest in show business?
Charlie Murphy: Yes, my son Charlie is an actor. Went to school for it and everything. And my youngest son, Xavier, who is 10 wants to be a comedian so he's taking improv classes. He's able to make the other kids in the room laugh, so who knows where that's going to lead.
Liz: You talk in the book about Eddie knowing what he wanted to do from the time he could walk and talk. Did Eddie's being so sure of his path and his talent early on have an impact on you?
Charlie Murphy: No. Not at all. I was a kid growing up so my skills weren't sharp enough to think, "This guy's doing better than me. He knows what he wants and I don't." I was a normal kid. He wasn't. He was one of those driven people from the beginning.
Liz: So you've got the book, "Crash Comedy," stand-up, acting. What's next for Charlie Murphy?
Charlie Murphy: Well we're trying to look into Charlie Murphy going to the space station. Live video from the space station. We'll call it "Charlie Murphy: Zero Gravity."
Liz: I'm not sure if you've seen it, but your brother's movie "Pluto Nash" just topped the Hollywood Reporter's list of film flops of the new century.
Charlie Murphy: I have no reaction to that because the reality is this: Anybody that has had as much success as my brother -- every record you put out ain't gonna be a hit. And that was one that wasn't. I don't feel bad that it got the rating it got and I'm sure he doesn't. Because the reality is this -- Eddie Murphy won the game 30 years ago so any movie that comes out now they say, "That movie wasn't that good, blah blah blah." But he continues getting paid and making more movies, so I don't think that movie really damaged his career too much, did it? "Pluto Nash" -- it was what it was.
| December 1, 2009; 10:48 AM ET
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