Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Eddie Murphy Route to Comedy Irrelevance


Last night, Monnat and I were hangin' out in the living room, talking about the upcoming Monday Night Football game and flipping back and forth between the Knicks-Timberwolves and the pre-game of Jets-Patriots.  It was a pretty standard Monday night at our house.  While waiting for the games to come on, Monnat and I were subjected to a commercial for what appears to be the worst movie of the year - Gulliver's Travels.

The commercial led Monnat and I into a discussion of Jack Black's career path, and finding commonalities between his and those of other comedians.  Ultimately, we discovered that most comedians' careers follow a similar arc, which we dubbed "The Eddie Murphy Route to Comedy Irrelevance."  It bears Eddie Murphy's name because he was the first and most notable example of that entire generation of comedians.  Anyway, its a simple 5 step formula:

     1) Comedian breaks out, either through
          stand-up, television, or film.

     2) Comedian makes lots of money.

     3) Comedian decides to do kids movie.

     4) Comedian's films become more and more
          directed towards kids.

     5) Comedian is no longer funny.

In the case of Eddie Murphy, he broke out with Saturday Night Live and Eddie Murphy: Delirious.  Then he made a lot of money doing Coming to America and the Beverly Hills Cop movies, only to begin his downfall with The Nutty Professor, his first movie geared towards kids.  In the time since The Nutty Professor, Murphy's only decent movies have been the Shrek films, and he has become irrelevant on the comedy scene.

The same thing has happened to a number of comedians in the time since.  Jim Carrey, for example, started out on In Living Color, broke out with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb & Dumber, made big money from The Cable Guy and Liar, Liar, then decided to do How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  In the time since The Grinch, his most notable films have been Bruce Almighty, Lemony Snicket, and Horton Hears a Who (all directed towards kids). 

You could make the same argument for a number of other comedians of note - just look at the career paths of Mike Myers, Steve Martin, and Adam Sandler.  (Sorry Teej, but You Don't Mess with the Zohan is no Happy Gilmore).  As a fan of comedy movies, its heartbreaking to see comedian after comedian end up falling victim to "The Eddie Murphy Route to Comedy Irrelevance."

I hope Jack Black is its last victim.