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The Continuum of Black Stand-up Comedy, Pt. 1: Eddie Murphy’s ‘Raw’

The Continuum of Black Stand-up Comedy, Pt. 1: Eddie Murphy’s 'Raw'

Kevin Hart may be one of the most popular Black stand-up comedians today but, at one time, a young, leather jumpsuit-clad Eddie Murphy dominated the stand-up scene. His acclaimed “Eddie Murphy Raw” (1987) captured the attention and laughter of critics and audiences alike, with Murphy drawing comparisons to a young Richard Pryor.

Filmed live in New York City, the film finds Murphy instigating everything from the “innate” unfaithfulness in men to the pseudo bravado of Italian-Americans after watching the “Rocky” film series. “All right Rocky! All right Sly,” he screams in a thick Italian accent, before performing a scene where two characters engage in a culture clash, dispelling all stereotypes that had previously been set up.

It’s this kind of raunchy, non-PC humor that helped shape Murphy’s brand of stand-up. Nothing was ever too sacred or controversial to laugh at in that skit, or even in another where Murphy transforms into his childhood self, craving a fast food hamburger from a mother who was sure she could cook one “better than McDonald’s.” What follows is a thorough, hilarious story that borders on comedic genius.

What are your favorite stand-up moments from “Raw”? Or can you think of another stand-up routine that deserves more kudos?

XFINITY On Demand™ is currently featuring “Eddie Murphy Raw.” Learn more and join the celebration of Black entertainment at

Editor’s Note: Shadow and Act partnered with XFINITY to celebrate Black entertainment. Be sure to visit, a unique digital community built around the love of Black TV, film, sports, music and more. Shadow and Act hopes to enrich this community and provide a launching pad for insightful discussion. Look to Shadow and Act for features and content examining and exploring key themes and topics that run throughout the history of Black entertainment.

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