Charlie Murphy was the last comedian that I saw perform live. He was hilarious. And not in the way that his younger brother, Eddie Murphy, is hilarious. He had a way about him that felt real, not so carefully composed as other funny people. He was like that really funny uncle whose arrival at family gatherings marks the moment when things really jump off-- that uncle who just seems to live his life so that he is always at the right place at the right time AND the wrong place at the right time. And he can recount his wild and crazy experiences in a way that makes the stories sound both outlandish and totally true.
And that's just it. Charlie Murphy was, above all else, a masterful storyteller.
I am a true lover of stand-up comedy. My Sirius radio is programmed only to NPR and the comedy stations, almost always on the Foxxhole. When I go to see live comedy, I am like that woman on the CD or HBO Special soundtrack, whose whooping, loud laughs obnoxiously sound off just before the punchline hits. And as you listen, you ask, "who laughs like that?"
Answer: I do.
A good comedian gets me going. I can't stop. My mother calls this "getting your tickle box turned over." I get my tickle box turned over every time. I've watched Kings of Comedy dozens of times. I will likely watch it dozens more. It is my go-to pick-me-up. It never fails me because laughter is most certainly my best medicine, and I was raised on Black comedy- Moms Mabley; Redd Foxx; Dick Gregory; Richard Pryor; Flip Wilson; Bill Cosby-- did I already mention Richard Pryor? And I've followed all of the wonderfully talented people who have come along behind these comedy greats.
I honestly still have not recovered from losing Bernie Mack.
Most of Charlie Murphy's stories were "20 feet from fame" types of stories- as witnessed by the sibling of Hollywood royalty. As part of Eddie Murphy's entourage, Charlie was protector, party-starter, party-closer and bad-boy. He seemed to have been always getting into fights, fending off women not really intended for him and starting and ending some kind of high jinx. He watched and he participated as a part of things, but also very much apart from things-- the observer. And it was this perspective that was so interesting. When David Chappelle, in all of his brilliance, put Charlie Murphy on the map with The Chappelle Show's Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories, suddenly we all "discovered" Charlie Murphy. I am not sure if Murphy was doing comedy solo before his television coming-out, but his stand-up was a continuation of this true Hollywood stories theme, only his act was simpler, purer. It was just Murphy and us, the audience, no need for TV magic. I laughed the entire time and I was utterly charmed from that night on. I had hoped that I could catch his show again live. But this never happened.
And now he is gone. Fortunately, we can still enjoy his wonderfulness on tape again and again. But still, I'm gonna miss him, Man!