When Eddie Murphy stepped back into Studio 8H for the first time in three-and-a-half decades, he brought with him some classic characters from Mister Robinson to Velvet Jones.
Murphy’s first sketch in the Dec. 21 episode of “Saturday Night Live” was “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood.” After so many years away, he was still living in his same apartment in a quickly gentrifying neighborhood, thanks to squatter’s rights.
“I was gone for a bit, but now I’m all right. My neighbors were all black, but now they’re white. The check cashing place turned into a bank; elevator works and the stairs stink. The white people came and changed everything, but I am still your neighbor,” he sang.
He commented on other things that have changed in the time he has been away from the audience, such as 23 And Me — “because of them, 23 people said their father is me.”
Later in the episode Murphy brought back Buckwheat, who was a surprise contestant on “The Masked Singer.” Dressed in a giant corn on the cob costume, his distinctive voice was obvious, even when crooning “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.”
Beck Bennett as Robin Thicke guessed the celebrity under the mask correctly, and the other judges followed suit. Buckwheat was unmasked, to which Kate McKinnon’s Jenny McCarthy said she was freaking out because he was her idol.
Once he was unmasked, he had some more to sing, including lines from “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” “Feliz Navidad” and “Single Ladies.” The show put the lyrics on the screen, karaoke-style, but based on what it sounded like he was singing, not the actual lyrics.
Bowen Yang portrayed show judge Ken Jeong, who said that as a doctor he was comfortable diagnosing Buckwheat as “100% juicy.”
Murphy’s Buckwheat said he was going to go away again but he didn’t want anyone to worry about him. Wherever he is, he said, he’s “doing o-tay.”
His Gumby made an appearance during “Weekend Update,” storming out on stage to angrily ask co-anchors and co-head writers Colin Jost and Michael Che how they were going to put on the show without him. “They know who the hell I am, I’m Gumby!” he said as he sat down.
“I should have been in every damn sketch from the top. I’m the one that made that Eddie Murphy a star. He was just a regular coon boy until I saw him,” he said.
Che did say they assumed no one would know who Gumby was.
“This is the thanks I get for saving this show from the gutter? Shame on you, Lorne Michaels. Shame on you, NBC,” Murphy’s Gumby said.
Both Jost and Che tried to get him to calm down, which drew more anger, resulting in Murphy’s Gumby calling Jost “trailer boy” and Che a “black bastard.”
“You know why you don’t come out from behind this desk? Because your jokes don’t have legs, you schmucks,” he said. “I passed kidney stones with more personality than the two of you.”
Because he’s green and children love him, Murphy’s Gumby said he was a Christmas character and said an opportunity was wasted by not using him sooner in the show. “The people want to see me!” he declared.
And finally, during a “Black Jeopardy!” sketch, contestant Velvet Jones appeared, introduced as “the founder of the Velvet Jones Institute of Technology, which he said meant he “showed ladies how to start their own business making up to $1500 dollars a week with my No. 1 bestseller, ‘I Want To Be A Ho.'”
Murphy’s Jones kept pimping (pun intended) his new books, almost all of which had “ho” in the title, which had the show’s host (played by Kenan Thompson) noting that “folks on the internet are going to be mad.” He was even prompted to ask if Jones had heard of #MeToo.
“Of course. You like hoes? Me, too,” he replied.
But things took a more modern turn when he was given a clue that asked what you shouldn’t do if your niece showed up to a holiday in a crop top.
“What you not going to do is judge this woman. It’s 2019, and she has every right to be sexy and to show off her beauty. She is independent, and she can make her own money. She doesn’t have to have sex with anyone,” he said. “It’s all in my new book entitled ‘How to Be an Instagram Ho’ and make $1500 a week from the comfort of your own bedroom being a strong, independent Instagram ho.”
“Saturday Night Live” airs live coast-to-coast Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.