Eddie Murphy, who took on the role of Rudy Ray Moore in last year’s runaway Netflix hit My Name Is Dolemite, has always marched to his own beat. And that idiosyncrasy is arguably what propelled him to his level of success—it’s been ingrained in his personality since he emerged on the comedy scene in the ’80s. In this installment of Five Firsts with Lynn Hirschberg, Murphy talks about some bad advice he got from Rodney Dangerfield—which, thankfully, he largely ignored.
“In the early days, I don’t remember getting any good advice. I remember some bad advice I got years ago,” he says. “I played the Comic Strip in Fort Lauderdale, and I was maybe 17, 18 years old. And Rodney Dangerfield comes in, he bumps everybody. It was like, ‘Dangerfield is here. Dangerfield’s going up.’ I was really full of myself back then, so I would say, ‘Mr. Dangerfield, after the show, will you watch my set?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, sure kid.’ “
“Back then, I was really dirty and did edgy racial stuff,” Murphy continues. “And so, afterward, Dangerfield sees me and he’s like, ‘Hey, kid, I don’t know where you’re gonna go with that, you know? The language, and the race stuff,’ and I was crestfallen. Cut to two, three years later, I got on Saturday Night Live, and had gotten really successful. And I was in Vegas in the bathroom at Caesars Palace. I was at the urinal, and Rodney Dangerfield comes to the urinal right next to me. And I look over, and he looks at me and says, ‘Hey, who knew?’ “