Interview: Charlie Murphy

By Rob Virtue on September 26, 2012 9:32 AM |

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Growing up in their family's Brooklyn home the young Murphy brothers - Eddie and Charlie - would both go on to entertain audiences with their comedy. But who was their inspiration in those formative years?

None other than the king of slapstick and the pursuer of busty blondes Benny Hill.

"I love watching a lot of great comedians," said Charlie, who is heading to the Indigo2 next month. "My favourites right now are Ron White, Chris Rock, Katt Williams and Tracy Morgan.

"But as for the British it's got to be Benny Hill. Me and the family used to watch re-runs all the time.

"We couldn't wait for the next one. Loved that guy. I can't say it's much like my style though, he was a very physical comedian."

While The Benny Hill Show ran for 40 years in Britain, Charlie's vehicle to stardom, Chappelle's Show lasted just four on the Comedy Central channel in the US.

Long enough, however, for the world to see that Eddie didn't get all of the funny genes in the Murphy family.

It was Eddie, star of Doctor Dolittle, Trading Places and The Nutty Professor, who initially brought him into the comedy circuit.

Charlie was to join his brother on tour in the '80s following a six-year stint in the navy as a boiler technician.

"While in the navy I served in the Mediterranean," said the 53-year-old, who is two years older than his brother. "I visited Greece, Spain and Italy. For a boy out of Brooklyn that was a big thing. I know people who have never left.

"I got out of the navy and began working for my brother. I was in security. But then I picked a pen up and started writing. I thought 'I could do this'.

"I always get compared to my brother and we've got a physical resemblance, I'll give you that. And we grew up together.

"But how could I not be proud of him? He's the high achiever of the family."

Charlie's time spent working with Eddie provided the inspiration for his sketches in Chappelle's Show, telling hilarious anecdotes about the celebrities they encountered.

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It's what the audience at the venue in North Greenwich, sister to The O2 arena, can expect.

"If people want know what I'm like, check me out on YouTube," he said. "It's all there. Everyone loves Chappelle's Show in the States. It's going to be a great gig."

It will be Charlie's first visit to London and he's keen to see the sights in the east after the Olympics.

"You guys did excellent," he said. "I was a big fan of the basketball but water polo is my new favourite sport.

"I also got into the women's tennis and gymnastics. And the diving. I could have been a diver."

Because of the parallels with live comedy - jumping head first into something in front of a room full of people?

"Ha, no man. Yeah, you're performing in front of people in comedy but it's really all about relating to people on a personal level.

"I'm not going in there talking to a giraffe. These are not from Mars. These are humans. These people have day-to-day stresses just like me. It's about finding out what they're interested in."

■ Charlie Murphy's Acid Trip, Indigo2, Oct 11, 6.30pm and 9.30pm, from £32.75, theo2.co.uk.

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