Eddie Murphy Calls Out David Spade for ‘Racist’ SNL Joke

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Eddie Murphy not only had his feelings “hurt” by a 1995 Saturday Night Live joke that may have caused him to stay away from the show for 35 years. Now, he says, the fact that the joke made it to air was in itself “racist.”

“Back in the old days, [the press] used to be relentless on me, and a lot of it was racist stuff,” he said in a new episode of The New York Times podcast The Interview. But none hurt him more than a joke David Spade told on an SNL episode that aired in 1995.

During his “Hollywood Minute” segment on “Weekend Update,” Spade showed a picture of Murphy and said, “Look children, it’s a falling star. Make a wish.”

Murphy said it was unusual that a joke like that would be made about an SNL alum. “When David Spade said that [expletive] about my career on SNL it was like: ‘Yo, it’s in-house! I’m one of the family, and you’re [expletive] with me like that?’ It hurt my feelings,” he said, especially since multiple people would have had to approve the joke—including, presumably, SNL boss Lorne Michaels—before it aired.

Spade would later write about Murphy’s reaction to his joke in his 2015 memoir Almost Interesting: “It was horrible,” he wrote in the op-ed, “I didn’t hate him. 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. I took my beating and then he hung up.”

Spade wrote that Murphy called him up at SNL and said, “‘David Spade, who the fuck do you think you are?!! Honestly? Who. The. Fuck. Going after ME?? You dumb motherfucker! I’m off-limits, don’t you know that? You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me. Talking shit about me??’”

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But Murphy said this week that he was more hurt than angry. “It was like: Wait, hold on. This is Saturday Night Live! I’m the biggest thing that ever came off that show,” Murphy said on the podcast, “The show would have been off the air if I didn’t go back on the show, and now you got somebody from the cast making a crack about my career?”

“And I know that he can’t just say that. A joke has to go through these channels. So the producers thought it was OK 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,” he continued. “Most people that get off that show, they don’t go on and have these amazing careers. It was personal.”

Murphy said he thinks the intent behind allowing the joke about him went even deeper—and that such a joke about an SNL alum wouldn’t have been allowed to air had he been white: “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 I thought—I felt it was racist.”

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