Air Date: 10/10/81
Starring: Eddie Murphy
While movie star Eddie might not show his full range of comic chops in flicks like Norbit and Imagine That, it's hard to argue that any cast member's SNL material has withstood the test of time like Eddie Murphy's has. Even the sketches of some of the show's greatest former power players, considered the most talented comedians of their time, aren't always immune to losing their hilarity as our nation's perception of what's funny evolves over the years. Stuff that killed your pops in the '70s might leave you stone-faced, just as boundary-pushing classics like “Dick in a Box” might leave your elders at a loss for words, longing for the days of Rosanne Rosannadanna.
We aren't saying the comedy of the Steve Martins and Gilda Radners who graced the screen during some of SNL's most notable eras hasn't managed to stay funny—of course it has. However, watching Murphy, whose stint on the show was only four years, is like witnessing pure, timeless genius. 30 years have passed since Buckwheat made his debut in 1981 and this sketch remains as hilarious as ever.
Despite the fact that there's no threshold the comic won't cross for a laugh, be it donning a Gumby suit, going undercover as a white dude, or unleashing the world's finest Stevie Wonder impression, the guy's ability to make you laugh—hard—always feels effortless. With his demented grin and “O-tays” at the ready, Murphy kills it with his reincarnation of Our Gang's controversial token brother, who just wants you to buy his compilation album. If you've seen it, you laugh before the jokes even drop because you know what's coming. If you haven't, you rewind it multiple times because you've just gotta see that rendition of “Wookin' Pa Nub” again to confirm that it actually just happened.
Say what you want: Eddie Murphy set the bar sky-high for SNL comedy past, present, and future.