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Charlie Murphy: 'My comedy style is nothing like Eddie's'

BROTHERLY LOVE: Charlie Murphy (right) with younger brother Eddie

PERCEPTION CAN be a hard thing to shake. Once people have it in their minds that things are a certain way, it can be difficult to make them think otherwise.

This is often true in the case of celebrity siblings, where one is widely regarded as being more successful than the other. People – often driven by media tittle-tattle – can be led to believe that there is ill-feeling or rivalry between the siblings, with the ‘lesser known’ family member being resentful of living in the shadows of their more famous brother or sister.

Charlie Murphy is all too familiar with these types of perceptions. The actor, comedian and writer is famed for a host of achievements, perhaps most notably his role in the US comedy sketch series, Chapelle’s Show. But rarely are his individual credits listed without the inclusion of the line ‘...and older brother of Eddie Murphy.’

Thankfully, Murphy handles this graciously. Ask him if he gets fed up of being asked about his younger brother, and the answer sounds genuine and straight from the heart.

“No – I’m very proud of my brother,” states the Brooklyn-born star. “What he’s achieved is immense and he’s an outstanding character. Seeing the heights he’s achieved in life, knowing where he came from – because it’s exactly where I came from – you can’t help but be extremely proud.”

Rubbishing the idea that there may be rivalry between them, Murphy insists this isn’t the case and says he’s unfazed by those who suggest otherwise.
“When we were growing up, we had sibling rivalry over who was getting new shoes and who wasn’t, or who was the favourite with our parents at the time! But we’re grown men now.

“The media can say whatever they want, coz when we [he and Eddie] show up and they see that what they were saying ain’t right, they’re gonna look like the fools. So that kind of thing doesn’t bother me.”

One thing the 53-year old is keen to clear up is that when it comes to stand-up, audiences shouldn’t expect him to be a carbon copy of his brother. Gearing up for his first UK tour, The Acid Trip Tour, which begins next month, Murphy says it would be naive for audiences to expect anything remotely similar to the stand-up shows that earned his brother fame.

“I’m in my 50s and Eddie was in his 20s when he started his stand up career. So if people think my comedy today is gonna be like Eddie’s – when Eddie’s last show was over 30 years ago – they’d be very much mistaken! But if people do assume that my comedy is like Eddie’s, once they see my show, they won’t make that assumption again. I have my own style and I don’t want to remind people of anyone.

“But I understand that people don’t really know me as a stand-up comedian because I’ve only had one DVD (2009’s I Will Not Apologize). You can’t expect people to just know about you overnight. It’s a process; it takes time”

While Murphy is lesser known for his stand-up, he is famed for his role as both a writer and cast member on Chapelle’s Show, specifically for his True Hollywood Stories sketches.

In addition, his feature films include Our Family Wedding, A Perfect Holiday and Jungle Fever; his screenwriting credits include Norbit and Vampire In Brooklyn, both starring brother Eddie; and fans of the US animation The Boondocks may know him as the voice of wannabe gangster character Ed Wuncler III.

But with audiences – particularly those in the UK – perhaps less familiar with his live material, what can they expect from The Acid Trip Tour?

“You can expect to laugh and be talked to like an adult. I don’t talk to the audience like they’re children. I won’t say ‘poo poo’, I’ll say ‘s*it’, coz grown people don’t say ‘poo poo’! This show isn’t for kids or for people who don’t keep it real. I also talk about my life and my relationship with my kids. If I’m gonna talk about other people, I have to be able to talk about myself first.”

Murphy talking about his family life is perhaps surprising when one considers the personal tragedy he experienced in recent years. A single father since the passing of his wife who died of cancer in 2009, Murphy admits that balancing fatherhood with his career can be difficult.

“It is hard but it’s something I have to do,” he says. “I have four children but only two of them are kids. My youngest is six and my son is 13. I’m a single parent so it’s a big deal when I leave to go on tour.”

Of his wife’s passing, he says: “It’s been extremely hard. But whatever hand your dealt is the hand you’ve gotta play. It’s been very difficult, but I don’t go around complaining about how difficult my life is. I focus on the success that comes from fatherhood, not the difficult parts.”

Still, Murphy admits that he’s psyching himself up for the parental challenges that are ahead now that his son has hit his teens.

“Growing up, I was a rambunctious kid, and as a father, I’m bracing myself now that my son is 13 because I’m sure he’ll go through his rebellious stage; that stage where you think your parents are stupid! But I say to my son, ‘You think I’m stupid, but you’d rather take counsel from another 13 year old – someone with no more experience in life than you. That’s stupid!’”

He adds: “My brother went on vacation last year, and when he got back, he was so mad when he discovered his son had decided to have a pellet gun fight in the house. So he comes back and sees these little holes in the wall and he’s like, ‘what’s this?’

“He said to his son, ‘Why would you do that in the house?’ And at that moment, his son thought to himself, ‘why would I do that in the house? That was stupid.’ So you have to let your kids know when they’re being stupid!”

The Acid Trip Tour is at the IndigO2, London on October 11; O2 Apollo, Manchester on October 12; and Birmingham Alexandra Theatre on October 14.

For tickets call 0870 444 5556, 08444 775 775 or visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk or www.charliemurphycomedy.com

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