Comedian Charlie Murphy, A 'Stand-Up Guy' For years, Charlie Murphy was best known as Eddie Murphy's brother, but not anymore. He talks about his book, The Making of a Stand-Up Guy, which traces his journey from jail, to the Navy, to his own career in stand-up.

Comedian Charlie Murphy, A 'Stand-Up Guy'

Comedian Charlie Murphy, A 'Stand-Up Guy'

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For years, Charlie Murphy was best known as Eddie Murphy's brother, but not anymore. He talks about his book, The Making Of A Stand-Up Guy, which traces his journey from jail, to the Navy, to his own career in stand-up.

The Making of a Stand-Up Guy
By Charlie Murphy, Chris Millis

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The Making of a Stand-Up Guy
Charlie Murphy, Chris Millis

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

As a kid in Brooklyn growing up with his little brother Eddie, Charlie Murphy's nickname Charlie Walie(ph). As a teenager, he adopted the name of Omar Alla(ph) when he became a member of a religious group called Five Percenters. He was also known as little boss to fellow members of the King Python's Gang in Roosevelt, Long Island. He served in the Navy where he said he was called a lot of things, worked as the head of security for his by then famous sibling and inevitably known as Eddie Murphy's brother. He became a screenwriter and an actor and when he got a part as a featured player on cable TV's �Chappelle's Show� people started to combine his names in one shout - Charlie Murphy.

He's now written a book about finding his own voice and his own identity as a stand-up comedian. If you would like to talk with Charlie Murphy about any of his names or his career in comedy, give us a call, 800-989-8255 - email us, And you can also join the conversation at our Web site, that's at Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, we'll talk with the chief prosecutor at the Rwanda Genocide War Crimes Tribunal. But first, Charlie Murphy joins us here in Studio 4A. His new book with Chris Millis(ph) is called, �The Making of a Stand-Up Guy,� and thanks very much for coming in.

Mr. CHARLIE MURPHY (Author, �The Making of a Stand-Up Guy�): Hey, thanks for having me.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: We'll also take some questions from the audience here in Studio 4A. There's a name I left out of that list that I wanted to ask about and that is Ratman(ph).

Mr. MURPHY: Ratman, yeah, oh, well, Ratman was actually - that was my first part in the feature where I got to make a sound but it wasn't a word�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: It was a (unintelligible). It was a Mario Van Peebles TV show �Sonny Spoon.�

CONAN: And what was Ratman's distinguished�

Mr. MURPHY: Ratman was supposed to be this Jamaican that chews his own arm off - dove in the water and swam from Jamaica to the States, well�

CONAN: That's a tough dude.

Mr. MURPHY: Tough dude.

CONAN: I guess all he does have to do�

Mr. MURPHY: He had his other arm in his back pocket like a sack lunch.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: This was a tragedy, no doubt.

Mr. MURPHY: I was glad to get the job. Man, I was happy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: I had been laying on the floor. We've got a friend named Desmond Gumms(ph). I was laying - he let me sleep on the floor at his house for six months.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: I had my own place in there and all that but I couldn't afford to bring my whole family and everything, you know. So I had to go by myself and that's what I had to do it to get my feet wet and go on auditions and whatever so that's what I did.

CONAN: You write after you had already left working for your brother by that time and you said in your book that you never got any part or any movie script accepted because you were Eddie Murphy's brother.

Mr. MURPHY: Pretty much, yeah. It was for a long time (unintelligible) having fun, like, okay, he thinks he's going to get it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: We pick the other guy. No, yeah, that was happening a lot.

CONAN: You have to hear no a lot when you're an actor.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah. I don't think I heard no more than anybody else when I look back on it. Everybody has to deal with that.

CONAN: Yet, you got into the business, well, later than most.

Mr. MURPHY: No, if you really check I've been in the business since I was nine.

CONAN: Well�

Mr. MURPHY: �as far as stand-up comedy, I got into the business later than most, yeah.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: And the reason behind it was, you know, the opportunity wasn't there. Prior to the �Chappelle's Show,� you know, no one would even listen to me, in the frame of: oh, he is trying to be funny.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: You know, well, your brother's Eddie, so what are you doing? But once �Chappelle's Show� came on and took off the way it did, that erased that. You know, people were like, okay, we want to see more of you. So, I took it and ran with it.

CONAN: You have to explain that part when you were nine years old. You were in a movie when you were nine.

Mr. MURPHY: When I was nine years old, I was in a movie called, �Landlord� with Pearl Bailey, Lou Gossett and Beau Bridges.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: And it was directed by - I think, it's Neal(ph) Ashby.

CONAN: And - Hal Ashby.

Mr. MURPHY: Hal Ashby, excuse me.


Mr. MURPHY: Yeah.

CONAN: And tell us what your part consisted of.

Mr. MURPHY: Stealing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: I stole hubcaps off of Beau Bridges' car, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And - do - how - what part of your inner self did you have to reach to do that?

Mr. MURPHY: Well, I - there was no part, I mean, that I was representing a guy that would do that. Back then, I was nine years old.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah. I didn't need money back then, so. They would say: we want you to go in, take this screwdriver and pop the hubcaps off. And when this guy comes out, he's going to start chasing you. I said okay. And we did it. And the funny part was - as a family, when the movie came out, we all got dressed up like it was the Easter Sunday and we went to�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: �movie theatre like Charlie's movie's coming - Charlie's movie.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: We got to the movie theatre came on - blip it was off�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: �we were still sitting there with our popcorn, like, now what do we do now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Now, it's somebody else's movie for the rest of the time.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah, yeah.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah. So that was the beginning. That was the first one.

CONAN: And even then, at that age, you said, you and everybody else in your family already expected that if somebody was going to make it in the entertainment business, it got to be your brother.

Mr. MURPHY: No. It wasn't that we expected it. That's not - we didn't expected it. We thought Eddie was crazy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: You have a kid telling you that when he grows up, he's going to be essentially what he is right now. And so - yeah, you don't - I mean, if your kid told you that tomorrow, would you believe him?


Mr. MURPHY: Exactly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: And that's - our family reacted the same - oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Here he is again with the Stevie Wonder.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: But, you know, that was somebody that was driven and, you know, now as an adult, I look back at all of these - I watch a lot of Biography and History Channel, and stuff. That's one of the things that a lot of people who are very successful have in common, is that they knew at a young age exactly where they wanted to go with it, you know.

CONAN: And you write repeatedly in this book that you never knew what you - you were going day to day doing the next thing.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah. And I'm still doing that, in a sense. Because, you know, I never know what opportunity may come up tomorrow. You know, I just finished doing three films and all three of them were - at the end of the film we finished, they would not (unintelligible) because we changed everything right on the set, you know.

CONAN: Let's see if we get some callers in on the conversation. Our phone number is 800-989-8255. Our email address is Charlie Murphy is our guest. His new book is called, �The Making of a Stand-Up Guy.� And let's see if we can get Jeremy(ph) on the line. Jeremy with us from Union City in California.

JEREMY (Caller): Hi, how's it going?

CONAN: All right.

Mr. MURPHY: What's up Jeremy?

JEREMY: Hey, Charlie. Man, it's a pleasure to speak with you.

Mr. MURPHY: All right.

JEREMY: So, I saw you in San Francisco with Dave Chappelle�

Mr. MURPHY: Okay.

JEREMY: �at the Punch Line. I think Paul Mooney was there.

Mr. MURPHY: That was a while ago (unintelligible) yeah.

JEREMY: Yeah, exactly. And (unintelligible) Al Gore was in house watching you all and I was very impressed. Anyway, I just want to know how much, like - I love Paul Mooney, you know, he's like - from a kid I've been watching you.

Mr. MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

JEREMY: I want to know, like, when you all met and maybe how much he's influenced you?

Mr. MURPHY: Paul Mooney, I won't say influenced, but he gave me a big shot. I've known him for many years because I met Paul Mooney when he - it's funny. Me and my brother were driving through the city one day to see a movie set.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: And it said, �Brewster's Millions� - Richard Pryor was filming the movie. And (unintelligible) that's Richard Pryor's set. And I was like, okay. He drives over there and he takes me on a bus. And now, I'm standing right in front of Richard Pryor, which that blew me away, you know.

JEREMY: (Unintelligible)

Mr. MURPHY: Maybe a couple of months prior to that meeting Richard Pryor, we heard about this dude named Rashan(ph) that was Richard's bodyguard.

CONAN: (unintelligible).

Mr. MURPHY: And Rashan was supposed to be like, you know, he could fly (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: I mean, that's the way the story sounded. Finally, you know, we go on the bus and here's this man sitting with, you know, clean-shaven face, head. You know, with all white suit on, and white shoes, and we walked on the bus, he looked at us, but he didn't speak. And then we - and my brother didn't make no big deal about it. We walked by, I'm was going, that must be Rashan. The other said was going: Well, how could he (unintelligible) a tough fight. He got on all white.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: He must really be tough, man�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: �you know, and I'm just sitting there the whole time on the bus, you know, talking to Eddie and Richard. And we leave the bus, I said, that other guy, that was Rashan, right? He was like, Rashan? That was a comedian. That was Paul Mooney. And that's who it was. That's how I met him.

CONAN: And there's another story you tell in the book that later, you and your brother spent an incredible amount of time trying to figure out how to get his hat off.

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, that was my other brother, Vernon.

CONAN: Oh, your other brother, Vernon.

Mr. MURPHY: Not Eddie.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: My youngest brother and my - you know, we used to do tricks to people. When we was on the road, we used to punish whoever was with us. We'd get bored, we would come up with, you know�

CONAN: Practical jokes, yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: �throw your shoes in the garbage, anything. Man, you know, you how hang your shoes on the door at night in a hotel?

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: We would find out what room and throw your shoes in the garbage. Next day, you're looking for the shoes. They're gone. By the end of the tour, you've spent two or three grand on shoes. That was one of our things.

Or try - we thought that Paul was wearing a toupee, right? And we were - I would never do that now. I was much younger. Let's pull it off on the bus. That's - we thought that would be funny. And we was trying to figure how to get his hat off for like two-and-a-half months, and we could never get it off. And it - the night we gave up is when I said, you know what? This is how we're going to get it off. I'm going to pull the fire alarm in the hotel. And you bang on the door and say, fire, fire. My brother says OK. And I did it. Bring. And Paul Mooney - my brother went back, boom, boom, boom, fire, fire. You heard�

(Soundbite of tapping)

Mr. MURPHY: Paul Mooney's - and then he opened the door, and he was buck naked with his hat on.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Jeremy, thanks very much for the call.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah.

CONAN: Let's see if we can go next to - this is Dave. Dave's with us from Traverse City in Michigan.

DAVE (Caller): Hi, guys. Hi from Michigan. Hey, Mr. Murphy. Just want to�

Mr. MURPHY: Hey, what's up, man?

DAVE: �pass along thanks. I was assigned overseas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And your videos - your DVDs on the "Chappelle's Show," especially "True Hollywood Story," absolute classics in it.

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, thank you, man.

DAVE: It made the difference to a lot of us where - it wasn't such a fun time, but you really made a difference. So thanks much.

Mr. MURPHY: Hey, I appreciate that.

CONAN: You - did you realize when you were making those shows�

Mr. MURPHY: No. No. As a matter of fact, there's an actress by the name of N'Bushe Wright, N'Bushe - am I saying her name right? N'Bushe, yeah. When we were first talking about doing those sketches, she pulled me to the side and was like, you're really going to allow them to do that on television? I was like, yeah. She said, but it's true. And I was like, It's not going to be exactly the way I explained it once Dave gets finished. And it wasn't.

Dave Chappelle, you know, he's a brilliant actor and a comedian, and he went on and he took it to the next level.

CONAN: Were those his lines, or were those Rick James's lines?

Mr. MURPHY: They were Rick James's lines reconstituted. Dave Chappelle�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: Come on, man.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: He made that insane, man.

NEAL: Thanks very much, Dave, for the phone call.

Mr. MURPHY: He made it insane.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

Charlie Murphy will also tell a story in his book about his time in high school when a classmate held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. We'll talk more about that�

Mr. MURPHY: Click.

CONAN: �and some of the other lighter moments, as well. If you'd like to talk with Charlie Murphy about his career in comedy, our phone number is 800-989-8255, or drop us an email. The address is

I'm Neal Conan. Stick around. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. Our guest today here in Studio 4A for this part of the program is Charlie Murphy, his new book, "The Making of a Stand-up Guy." And that title, it goes two directions. You're talking about finding your own voice as a comedian�

Mr. MURPHY: Right. Right. Right.

CONAN: �but also being a stand-up guy.

Mr. MURPHY: Being a stand-up guy. Exactly.

CONAN: Discipline is what you write a lot about.

Mr. MURPHY: Well, I didn't always think about it. I think now I've got a different, you know, I used to be a - I used to have a different way of looking at life, you know, and it wasn't - I consider myself more of a spiritual person now. And it's all about education, you know. If you don't know things, you know, you just go by your instinct. Or, you know, then it doesn't always work out for you.

CONAN: How did it happen that you found yourself with a gun to your head in high school?

Mr. MURPHY: Well, I used to have a lot of fights.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: I used to have a lot of fights. And this one particular gentleman, I made the mistake of announcing what I was going to do to him when I see him. You know, when I see him I'm going to rip him from limb to limb. You tell him when I see him, click. You know, that's the kind - and that's where I learned not to do that. You know?

CONAN: We have a questioner here at the microphone in the audience. Go ahead, please.

Mr. CARLOS MURPHY (Audience Member): Yes.

Mr. MURPHY: What's up, man?

Mr. C. MURPHY: Charlie, it's a pleasure to meet you.

Mr. MURPHY: Same here.

Mr. C. MURPHY: I'm a stand-up comedian myself. Oddly enough. Name, I was predisposed, my name is Carlos Murphy. So I�

Mr. MURPHY: OK. So you've got it going on in Latin America, (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. C. MURPHY: You know what? For real talk, I was telling my buddy back there, the one who's laughing like a Halloween character, I used to say that when I went onstage. I used to say that my name is Carlos Murphy. I'm the cheaper Latin American version of Charlie Murphy. That's how I'd introduce myself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. C. MURPHY: I thought it was funny. All right. Doesn't kill here. I was wondering, though, you have, at least I would think, a million-and-one stories, and you already have the exposure from "Chappelle's Show" and everything.

Mr. MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

Mr. C. MURPHY: Any possibility that we will see Charlie Murphy's show? Something along the lines of�

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, yeah, man. We've got some stuff in the works right now, man, with - Terry Crews is a good friend of mine, the one from "Everyone Hates Chris." We're working - we're developing some stuff right now. So, yeah, absolutely.

Mr. C. MURPHY: All right.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah.

Mr. C. MURPHY: Thank you. Welcome back to D.C.

Mr. MURPHY: Hey, thanks for having me back, man. This is up.

CONAN: Let's get a caller on the line. And this is Josh, Josh with us on the road in Kentucky or - yeah, Kentucky. Go ahead.

JOSH: Hi, Charlie, how you doing?

Mr. MURPHY: What's up, Josh?

JOSH: I'm driving right now from North Carolina all the way to Montana�

Mr. MURPHY: Wow.

JOSH: �just sitting here listening to you. So I wanted to ask you, you know, you said you started your stand-up career later in life. Did you have to learn how to write jokes, how to, you know, did you have to learn the dynamics of the jokes�

Mr. MURPHY: Yes.

JOSH: �you were writing�

Mr. MURPHY: Yes.

JOSH: �before you went out there and tried it?

Mr. MURPHY: And that's one of the things that I tell people that want to get into stand-up, you know. If you're the guy that's, you know, that's naturally funny, you know, those are the guys that usually want to give it a shot. Don't think that that's all that is necessary, you know. You're going to have to do -learn how to express yourself to a group of people that don't know you.

See, a lot of people are funny in the barbershop, but everybody in the barbershop knows them, you know. Or they're funny or school or at work, but everybody that's there, they're friends. You know, when you're doing it as a professional, you're going into a town, these people don't know you personally or nothing, and your jokes have to make them laugh. And that's where the work comes in, learning how to do that, learning how to develop your voice in that area.

CONAN: Now, you were also a screenwriter and you wrote�

Mr. MURPHY: I am also a screenwriter.

CONAN: Also a screenwriter. And you've written jokes for movies.

Mr. MURPHY: Right. Right.

CONAN: And there's an interesting part in your book where you say, you know, it's really different writing a joke for a movie than it is for stand-up.

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, yeah, because, you know, if you write a joke for a movie, for instance, right?

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: They paid you for the script. They might not even use the joke. You still got your money.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: But if you write a joke in stand-up and it don't work, you're going to get, you know, you're going to feel it right there. You don't get paid. You feel it, you know, like somebody put a cigarette out on you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: It doesn't feel good.

CONAN: All right. Thanks very much for the call, Josh. Drive carefully.


CONAN: Bye-bye.

JOSH: Thank you.

CONAN: And let's go to the microphone here in the audience.

Unidentified Woman #1: So, Charlie, tell us about the first time you bumped into Rick James after the "Chappelle's Show."

Mr. MURPHY: The first time I bumped into him after the "Chappelle's Show"?

Unidentified Woman #1: Yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: It was cool, because Rick was - the "Chappelle's Show" - everybody remembers, Rick James went through a bad turn in his life and he went to jail and all this other stuff. And when he got out, he was kind of discredited, you know, in the industry, as far as, you know, he was a multimillionaire and had -everything you want to call Puffy and Jay-Z, these guys today, Rick James had the same thing. And, you know, unfortunately the drugs took it from him and he went to jail.

And in the process of doing that, just like with any other addict, he created a whole bunch of enemies or whatever. And when he came out, his spirit was kind of beat down, but he wasn't beat out, you know. He was - and he was still like family to us. So we weren't his friends because he was Rick James. We were his friends because we liked him as a person.

CONAN: We should explain the character.

Mr. MURPHY: Right.

CONAN: The bit you did on the "Chappelle's Show," the recurring bit�

Mr. MURPHY: Right.

CONAN: �was "True Tails of Hollywood," those stories about you and when you palled around with Rick James.

Mr. MURPHY: And Rick was actually in it.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: It wasn't like I'd go - you make a long story short, he agreed to do those sketches. And when they came out, it reinvigorated his career. I don't know if anybody remembers, but when he did the BET Awards and he sang "Love Them and Leave Them" from the audience and he got up, it was like - the moment was really - it was almost like, I'm not going to say it was equivalent, but it was almost like when Michael did the moonwalk for the first time.

He electrified the audience, and he went up on stage. And the reason why the audience was electrified because they had all been watching the "Chappelle's Show" sketch, you know. And then Rick, you know, he was dressed like, kind of like the lion in "The Wiz," anyway, so he had�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: �the outfit on, singing the song. It was like, you know, people were really connecting it to Dave and everything. Then when Rick said, you know, you know my name, I'm Rick James B, whatever, he got a standing ovation for that. And that sparked a tour. And Rick was back on the road again. He was doing shows. It was a good thing.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in. This is Matt, Matt from Fort Myers in Florida.

MATT (Caller): Hey, thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Sure. Go ahead.

MATT: Well�

Mr. MURPHY: I was just there.

MATT: �can I first say�

CONAN: Me, too.

MATT: �before I begin, Charlie Murphy, I am a huge fan of your work on the "Chappelle's Show" and also some of your stand-up work. I think�

Mr. MURPHY: Thank you. Thank you very much.

MATT: �you're hilarious.

CONAN: Just some of his stand-up work?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MATT: Well, all of it, I guess.

(Soundbite of laughter)


MATT: But my question is, Charlie Murphy, you are, indeed, Eddie Murphy's younger brother, you look - older brother, excuse me. You look like him. And now that you've made yourself famous, looking back on your career, did you ever find moments in time where you felt overshadowed by your brother?

Mr. MURPHY: No, not all, because I never - you know, what I'm doing right now was never foreseen by me. When I was working with him and I decided I wanted to try something different, I started writing - I didn't initially go - want to be an actor. I started writing first. And I made a little money doing that, but it wasn't enough to sustain me forever. And in the meantime, that's what made me, you know, start trying to get back into acting, you know.

But I never looked at him like he was overshadowing me, because, you know, Eddie Murphy's been the huge part of American fabric that he is since he was 19 years old. So there was never a point where I was like comparing myself to him or anything like that.

CONAN: It's interesting. You write about - in all of the endeavors in your life, you were always part of a team, whether it was a gang or the Navy or part of Eddie's security team. And even when you're writing for the movies, that's a big, collaborative effort once the writer's finished with it.

Mr. MURPHY: Exactly.

CONAN: Stand-up, you say, you found your own voice.

Mr. MURPHY: Well, stand-up is done by yourself, you know. There's nobody backing you up. There's no pyrotechnics going on. There's no flashy dancers. When you go up there, you're by yourself.

CONAN: You might want to work in the flashy dancers. That might be good.

Mr. MURPHY: Nah. Flashy dancers?

CONAN: Let's get a question here on the microphone in the audience.

Unidentified Man #1: Hey, Mr. Murphy, how you doing?

Mr. MURPHY: What's up, bro?

Unidentified Man: Hey, question for you: How do you equate being conscious or being spiritually awakened with being a comedian? A lot of times�

Mr. MURPHY: Well, I'm going to tell you something, my spirituality is - it's all about me being the best person that I can possibly be and the best parent that I can be to my kids. And I look for things that's going to guide me to be that, you know. As far as comedy is concerned, the spirituality in that is that I say my prayers before I go on stage that I don't get shot before the show is over.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: You say your prayers before you go on stage�

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah.

CONAN: �and then you do a fair amount of blue material.

Mr. MURPHY: I do adult material.

CONAN: Adult material.

Mr. MURPHY: I don't perform in high school lunchrooms. I'm talking to grown people. So they're drinking, you know, come on, man.

CONAN: All right. Here's�

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: �an e-mail question from Bridgette(ph) in Minneapolis. I was wondering how your experiences with such a seemingly serious group of people as the Five Percenters, also known as the Nation of Gods and Earths, has influenced your comedy.

Mr. MURPHY: It hasn't. I mean, you know�

CONAN: That was a long time ago.

Mr. MURPHY: That was a long time ago. And jokes is what kind of made me have to be out of that situation, because, you know, I would question things. I had an analytical mind back then. And if you tell me something and profess it to be the truth, I don't just accept it, you know, because you said it, you know. Or if I seen it on the news or whatever, I don't just go, oh, yeah, it's the truth, because so and so said it, you know.

It's the truth when I can tell you why it's the truth. And if I can't do that, you know, then you obviously haven't explained to me why it's the truth. And that's what I felt like when I was part of the organization, like, you know, I was being told things, but the explanation beyond the explanation I was getting was not good.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in - Dane, Dane with us from Boise.

DANE (Caller): Hi. How you doing? I would like to start to say that I'm a - I love Charlie Murphy's work on the - on "Chappelle's Show." But what I wanted to ask about was the work on "Boondocks" that you did with�

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, yeah, yeah.

DANE: ��cause I (unintelligible).

Mr. MURPHY: We got another season coming, so we just did another season of �The Boondocks.�

CONAN: Oh, yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah.

DANE: It's like I want to give credits to the creator, but I can't remember his name.

Mr. MURPHY: Aaron McGruder.

DANE: Aaron McGruder, yes. Thank you.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah, he's so talented.

DANE: It's, to put it mildly, I would call it high-octane racial comedy. And I was wondering if you were going to be doing any more voice acting work because you did seem perfect for it.

Mr. MURPHY: Well, I love doing it, but I never hire myself so�

CONAN: If the people at the stations are listening�

Mr. MURPHY: �that's yet to be seen whether I would do anymore voiceover work.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: How does that work? I mean, do you go in - I mean, are you watching the cartoon as you do the voiceover?

Mr. MURPHY: No. No. They have these lights, and when - you know, it's a tone that goes like (makes noise). And when you hear the last tone�

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: �you have a script in front of you, start talking.

CONAN: So you're not synching up with the character's mouth.

Mr. MURPHY: No, they synch it up. They synch it up.

CONAN: They synch it up later.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah.

CONAN: All right. That's interesting.

DANE: The dialogue between you and Samuel L. Jackson, though, it's like, that was brilliant.

Mr. MURPHY: Oh yeah, man. Aaron McGruder is crazy, man. That's why I love being on the show. I love being involved with anything that's going to make people talk, you know? It's that simple. Anything that's going to make - whether you're saying something bad or good, you're talking about what we did, then I achieve my objective, you know?

DANE: All right. Thank you much, and I'm looking forward to the next season.

CONAN: Thank very much for the call, Dane. Another question from the audience here in 4A.

Unidentified Man #2: Charlie, got a question for you. What is the mantra of a stand-up guy?

Mr. MURPHY: The mantra - my mantra is, like I said, just remain being a positive person, you know what I'm saying? And approach life as a positive being. Don't complain about what you ain't got, focus on what you do got, be grateful for it, you know, and just keep trying to create new and more ingenious jokes. I mean, people will be surprised if you came in my room and see me sleeping at night, I would sleep like this.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: He's laid back with his eyes open.

Mr. MURPHY: That's right. I sleep with my eyes open because I'm always trying to come up with a new joke, man.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: It's that tough a business.

Mr. MURPHY: You know how many comedians there are? There's another thing. When Eddie and those guys came up, there was way less comedians. Because of Eddie's success and because of the success of Chris Rock and Bernie Mac and these other guys, a lot of, you know, young people seeing that, they're like, yo, wait a minute. I can do that. So now there's a lot of comedians, more than ever right now.

CONAN: And you write that there's sort of a fraternity. You hang out with each other. You support each other.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah.

CONAN: You're also viciously competitive.

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah. It's kind of like two dogs eating at the same bowl.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: My guest is Charlie Murphy. His book is �The Making of a Stand-Up Guy.� You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's get another caller in on the phone, and go to Chris, Chris with us from Owensboro in Kentucky. Chris, are you there? I guess Chris isn't there. And we'll go instead to Reef(ph), Reef with us from Laramie, Wyoming.

REEF (Caller): Hi.

CONAN: Go ahead, please.

REEF: Neal, I love the show.

CONAN: Thank you.

REEF: Beautiful show.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: What's up, Reef?

REEF: I'm an aspiring comedian here in Laramie, and I'm trying to find my way to get out. And I was wondering if�

(Soundbite of laughter)

REEF: �Charlie had any advice where to go and how to keep surviving through the tough beats of stand-up.

CONAN: I think you just find I-80 and head either east or west.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: I didn't say that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: No, man. You know, if you really want to get into comedy, man, the two hotbeds are, you know, obviously, Hollywood, Los Angeles and New York. You know, those are places where you're going to have to go cut your teeth at, you know, if you really want to get into it.

CONAN: And you live outside of New York.

Mr. MURPHY: I live in, yeah, I live in New Jersey.

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. MURPHY: But all the clubs that I went to from my early training, whatever, was the whole New York grid. We just went from club to club every night. We'd do as many as possible. And then, I would go home. The next day, I would write down what I did wrong�

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: �go back the next day and try to, you know, make it better.

CONAN: It was interesting. I got the chance to meet you briefly after you did a show at The Improv here in Washington, D.C. a couple of - about a month ago.

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, that's right. Yeah, yeah.

CONAN: And you were saying how much things were really going great for you. You had�

Mr. MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

CONAN: �a book coming out, which we'd schedule you to do all that already. You're working on a movie. All these - you're selling out comedy clubs. And I assume this is one of the nicer green rooms in one of the nicer comedy clubs, and it was not that great.

Mr. MURPHY: No. The - I'm going to tell you something before - this green room. I love The Improv in D.C. The people come and they support my shows. But the green room, they make you - it's tight in there.

CONAN: It's a little tough�

Mr. MURPHY: It's a disaster(ph) if you want to want to get out of there, (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let's see if we can get a question from the audience here.

Unidentified Woman #2: Yeah, I saw the camera panned to Prince at the Minnesota game yesterday�

Mr. MURPHY: Okay.

Unidentified Woman #2: �and I just died laughing. Not that Prince couldn't be at the game, but it immediately made me think of the skit.

Mr. MURPHY: So you've seen his clothes and you�

Unidentified Woman #2: He did have on a blouse, he did.

Mr. MURPHY: But it's not Prince on (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Woman #2: And so I was just wondering, just to piggyback on the other question, have you seen or talked to Prince since then?

Mr. MURPHY: Yeah, yeah. I've seen Prince. It was funny. We was in Vegas. I did the House of Blues, and the show was so loud. It was during the NBA All-Star game.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. MURPHY: So it was a great turnout and everything. The show went great. And when it was over, you know, I had all this adrenaline. I was pumped up. And then they said, well, you want to go to Prince's club? And I said, yeah, let's go to his club.

And we went to his club, and as soon as we walked in the front door - you heard the music before you got in. But as soon as we walked in the front door, when Prince had came off the stage, he was walking around through the audience. And we walked through the front door and literally bumped in to him. And he looked at me, and he looked - he did like this, like, gave me a look like, oh, it's you�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: �kept on playing. It was funny. It was funny.

CONAN: There's a - we just have a few seconds left, but there's a story you tell in the book about you and your brother Eddie going to a celebrity look-alike contest�

Mr. MURPHY: Oh, yeah, man. That was a horrible night for me, man.

CONAN: �at Chippendales.

Mr. MURPHY: This was a - that happened right when I got out of the military, you know what I'm saying? We was going to all these clubs every night. And then one night - don't get me wrong, Chippendales, a lot of girls go to Chippendales. If you're a real hunter, go to Chippendales. So we - they had a look-alike night. So when we went in there, you know, everybody was looking at my brother and looking at me going, oh, so you must be the Eddie Murphy look-alike. And I was like, no, man. And we sat down and watched the show. And I remember that night, two Michael Jackson look-alikes got into a fist fight�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: �over who could do Michael the best. And this dude came out and performed �Purple Rain.� He looked exactly like Prince with Jimmy Durante's nose.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MURPHY: He had this big, giant nose.

CONAN: Charlie Murphy, thank you so much for being with us today. The book is�

Mr. MURPHY: Thank you, man.

CONAN: ��The Making Of A Stand-up Guy.� Charlie Murphy.

Mr. MURPHY: (unintelligible)

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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