Eddie Murphy Gave Garrett Morris the Same Treatment on ‘SNL’ He Hated From David Spade

Spade wasn’t the only ‘SNL’ star to crap on former cast members
Eddie Murphy Gave Garrett Morris the Same Treatment on ‘SNL’ He Hated From David Spade

Eddie Murphy, in the middle of a media barrage in support of Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, explored some painful old wounds in an interview with The New York Times. Not only was Murphy hurt by a joke that David Spade told on Weekend Update, but he now says the bit was racist as well. 

For context, Murphy said, “Back in the old days, (the media) used to be relentless on me, and a lot of it was racist stuff.” That treatment was on his mind as Spade delivered a punchline at Murphy’s expense. “When David Spade said that shit about my career on SNL, it was like: ‘Yo, it’s in-house! I’m one of the family, and you’re fucking with me like that?’ It hurt my feelings.” 

The Spade joke that did the damage? Murphy had just released A Vampire in Brooklyn, not one of his best movies, creatively, critically or commercially. Spade, whose most successful SNL bit was roasting celebrities on Weekend Update, decided to kick a man while he was down.


“And I know that he can’t just say that,” Murphy said. “A joke has to go through these channels. So the producers thought it was okay to say that. And all the people that have been on that show, you’ve never heard nobody make no joke about anybody’s career. Most people that get off that show, they don’t go on and have these amazing careers. It was personal. It was like, ‘Yo, how could you do that? My career? Really? A joke about my career?’ So I thought that was a cheap shot. And it was kind of, I thought — I felt it was racist.”

Saying the joke was mean or undeserved is one thing. Calling it racist ups the ante. Spade has expressed his regret several times over the years, including in his book, Almost Interesting. "It was horrible,” Spade wrote. “I didn’t hate (Murphy). Of course not. He just got caught in friendly fire and my deep desire to make an impression on my bosses and keep my job. How pathetic.” 

For what it’s worth, Murphy told off Spade and the two comics patched things up. “I’m cool with David Spade,” he told The New York Times. “Cool with Lorne Michaels. I went back to SNL. I’m cool with everybody. It’s all love.”

The whole affair illustrates the complexities of “punching up” or “punching down” as a comedian. Was Spade, a relatively minor player on Saturday Night Live, punching up when he roasted huge stars like Murphy and others? (The joke of Hollywood Minute: Spade was a nobody taking the piss out of more famous celebrities.) Or was Spade, by the privilege of being a white male comedian, punching down by taking a shot at a Black success story? There’s not an easy answer there. 

Murphy has every right to be hurt by a joke at his expense, but he also deserves to be called out on his rationale. He claims, “All the people that have been on that show, you’ve never heard nobody make no joke about anybody’s career.” 

He must have forgotten about this one:

Nineteen-year-old Murphy joked about the military draft, claiming he should be exempt because it would leave SNL without a token Black cast member. Murphy had a better idea. “If you want a tough soldier,” he said, holding up a picture, “This is the guy right here. This is your man. This guy, Garrett Morris. Serious business. I know he’s a little over age, but word has it he has a lot of free time right now.”

Oof! The nature of the joke — a current SNL star using the Weekend Update desk to crap on the fading fortunes of a past SNL star — is the same. The only difference is who’s dishing it out and who’s taking it.


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?