Eddie Murphy: Delirious

Good stand-up comedy is timely but great stand-up is timeless. And while there are a handful of jokes that indicate just how much times have changed - mostly fag gags and racist impressions - for the most part Eddie Murphy lands on the forever side with this. Eddie Murphy’s debut TV special, recorded in 1982 for a nascent HBO, took him from being a costume-clad mimic on Saturday Night Live to being the true heir to the throne of Richard Pryor. Murphy, only in his early 20s but a stand-up vet since he was 15 years old, stalks the stage with unbelievable restless energy, but the bits he unleashes - many of which have become classics, like "ice cream man” and drunk dad’s "it’s my house!” - are well-honed pieces of storytelling art that owe as much to the easy demeanour of Bill Cosby as the manic outrageousness of Pryor. Shocking at the time for its foul language and then-taboo subject matter (Murphy was one of the first to mock Michael Jackson or make light of the AIDS epidemic), what’s compelling in hindsight is simply how ridiculously talented he is. Whether weaving a long, involved tale of mom’s deadly shoe-throwing accuracy (primarily with sound effects) or doing a series of singing impressions, even now it looks like Murphy could take on anything. Of course, we know he’s turned out to be the true heir to Pryor in his choice of film roles, at times, but his recent career up-tick (the red-leather clad Murphy seen here would bust a gut at the idea of an Oscar nom) is merely a realisation of talent that’s always been there. The deleted scenes are forgettable but a new half-hour interview with Murphy adds some delightful anecdotes: his stand-up beginnings, his worst night ever and the fact that the famous red leather suit - believed by many to be Murphy’s Elvis ’68 comeback special tribute - was in fact a last-minute substitution after a day-of-show wardrobe malfunction. That Eddie Murphy - pioneering in ways he didn’t even know! (Entertainment Studios/Starz Home)