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Charlie Murphy: From Military to Mainstream


“If you give me fruit salad, I’ll add some whipped cream,” said Charlie Murphy, who will be performing at the Helium Comedy Club July 16 -18.  Charlie Murphy

Murphy is best known for his starring roles in the late, legendary Chappelle's Show. His “True Hollywood Stories” bits quickly hit critical mass after they aired, as people young and old got to know about Prince’s basketball skills and Rick James’ tendencies for slapping other men. His fruit salad/whipped cream comment relates to those bits, along with other parts of his material. Murphy’s a fantastic storyteller. But, like all storytellers, some parts of his tales are slightly altered from how they actually occurred. “Everything in life is exaggerated. Nothing is ever literal,” Murphy said. “Nothing at the end of the day is real. We all walk around and live inside our own head.” This may sound surprisingly philosophical from a man who publicly discussed using a karate kick on the singer of “Superfreak.” But anyone who has ever seen Murphy’s stand-up knows that he’s an incredibly esoteric performer.

“That’s the style I pursued,” Murphy said. “Because of who my brother is (Charlie's brother is comedic legend Eddie Murphy), as far as comedy is concerned, I felt it was my responsibility to go that way. He’s a person with real wit who is a real comedian. He took the time to think about what he was saying. I’m not going up there and just talking. It’s not just what you’re saying; it’s how you’re saying it. When you watch my show, you see classic joke structure. You see some freestyle. I got all of that stuff going on. I’m trying to make myself distinct.”

His unique voice has brought him around the country. But one gig stands out the most: The Gathering of the Juggalos. “Juggalo” is a term used to describe hardcore fans of the Insane Clown Posse. Every year, they have a huge festival putting together various “horrorcore” groups. In 2005, Murphy performed a set at the festival held in rural Garretsville, Ohio. And, like he’s accustomed to doing, he killed. “That’s something I’ll never forget. I never thought I’d have love like that there. If you’ve never been to Garretsville, Ohio, just know they could film Man Vs. Wild there. The venue where it was at was in the woods. I started noticing goth people hiding behind trees. I was getting real scared. But once I got up on stage, they started screaming ‘Charlie Murphy’ and I was like, ‘wow,’” said Murphy.

But there was a time in his life before Murphy distinguished himself as one of America’s best comics, just as there was a time before his brother became an international sensation.  And during that time, Murphy was just a regular dude. And like most regular dudes, he was always puzzled by the ways of women.

“I had a bad approach when it came to talking to a girl,” he said. “Relating to a woman is an art form. It comes with experience and age. Some guys have good physical attributes and fit that profile, for some reason. Other guys have to work at it. I think most guys are one of those guys.” And, just like most guys, Murphy’s heart lies with his family. Despite his high profile, Murphy chooses not to live in the heart of New York City or Los Angeles. Instead, he makes his home in the suburbs of Bergen County, New Jersey, an ideal place for his kids to grow up.

While growing up, Murphy’s family was tight-knit and close, even after his brother became one of the most successful comedians of all time. “Sibling rivalry is an enigma to me. Rivalries within families are sad to me,” he said. “That didn’t happen to us. None of us ever wanted to upset the apple cart. I might want to do that to someone else, but not to my family.”

Many also do not know that Murphy was in the military before he entered the world of entertainment. The military, he said, gave him a sense of discipline that still pays off today. He prides himself on never missing shows. It’s also helped with his ability to constantly develop new material.

“I have a Blackberry now, but I used to bring a pencil and paper with me. If something strikes me, I make a memo of it. Then I strike up a conversation about it. And then from that conversation, I take the principles of that and make bullet points about what I want to say. And then I go and have a conversation with the audience. And if it doesn’t work, I don’t take it too personally,” he said. But it mostly works for Murphy, and he’s hoping that it’s going to work in Philly.

“I love Philly. I’ve been there several times,” he said. “I love Bernard Hopkins. I’m a friend of his. But I just love the whole city.”


Charlie Murphy at Helium Comedy Club.

2031 Sansom St Philadelphia, PA 19103 

July 16 - July 18

Thursday, July 16, 8pm - $30
Friday, July 17, 8pm & 10:30pm - $30
Saturday, July 18, 8pm & 10:30pm - $30

Call today to make your reservation 215-496-9001 or visit our website www.heliumcomedy.com

Photos: www.undergroundplug.ning.com