On this day in comedy on December 18, 1987 Eddie Murphy Raw was released by Paramount Pictures.
Filmed in the Madison Square Garden complex and directed by Robert Townsend this stand-up comedy concert film was Eddie Murphy’s second such effort following Delirious, but his first with a wide theatrical release. Besides being a highly acclaimed critical and box office success, Raw lives up to its title and held the record of most “f**ks” (223) in film (beating out even Al Pacino’s Scarface) until Robert DeNiro’s Goodfellas came along several years later.
Raw opens with a sketch (featuring Tatyana Ali) of a young Eddie Murphy telling a joke and merrily cursing his way through it. That’s the theme of the film as grown up Murphy emerges from behind the see-through curtain illuminating his posed silhouette. Once the thunderous applause dies down Murphy launches into a series of bits reflecting his station in life and show business. He talks about celebrities (Mr. T, Michael Jackson) who didn’t like what he said about them in Delirious. He riffs on fans who didn’t like his gay jokes from the same film. He clowns Bill Cosby for criticizing Murphy’s act as being too scatological and how Murphy got advice from Richard Pryor to tell Cosby to shut the f**k up.
Murphy goes on during the 93 minutes to discuss’ his love for Pryor and his influence on young Eddie. He talks about non-English speaking people only yelling out his curse words to him; the perils of strange tail diseases and marriage; divorce and costly alimony; the need to find a sheltered woman from the bush who knows nothing about alimony; the need to keep her sheltered so American women don’t hip her to alimony; the surprising fact that men cheat and women will do the same; eating burgers made by your mama as a kid and not McDonald’s like the other kids; uncoordinated white people; overly-aggressive Italians and drunk relatives round out the set.
Raw was written by Eddie Murphy and Keenen Ivory Wayans (the opening sketch). Ernest Dickerson did the cinematography and the film made $50,504,655 at the box office.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
Check out this clip: