By Dylan Stableford
February 15, 2015 11:42 PM
And his first appearance on the show in 30 years lasted exactly 73 seconds.
After a touching, three-and-a-half-minute introduction from Chris Rock — who called Murphy his idol ("I wanted to be Eddie Murphy") and credited the "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Bowfinger" star with saving the NBC comedy show for future comedians like him (without Murphy, Tina Fey "would've been the funniest English professor at Drexel University") — Murphy, 53, took to the stage and received a standing ovation.
Welcome home, Eddie. Standing ovation for Mr. Murphy. #SNL40
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) February 16, 2015To say Murphy's subsequent speech was awkwardly short would be an understatement.
"Hey, isn’t this an incredible night, this night?" Murphy said. "This show is such a big part of who I am and my life. And I’m so happy to be back here. It’s a magical feeling. Actually it feels like going back to my old high school, kind of. It’s a good feeling. I’m really happy that so many people here value the stuff that I did 35 years ago. It makes me feel really happy. I will always love this show and .. let’s have some more show. Let’s have a big round of applause for everybody.”
When the monitors failed to segue to commercial or another montage, Murphy froze.
“I thought that right there you guys were gonna do the ... Well, then let’s do it again," he said. "You know, this has been a helluva night. A real magical evening. You’re always going to be a part of my life.”
Eventually, the producers panned to a photo of Dick Ebersol, "SNL's" former executive producer.
Twitter users hoping for jokes or reprisals of Murphy's iconic "SNL" characters -- like Buckwheat, Mr. Robinson or Gumby -- were none-too-keen on Murphy's far-too-brief, and unfunny, return.
I don’t understand. They brought out Eddie Murphy to accept applause and then go away? I want that job. #SNL40
— Damian Holbrook (@damianholbrook) February 16, 2015Is Eddie Murphy unable to be funny? I don't understand why he did what he did tonight, which was nothing.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) February 16, 2015So...Eddie Murphy. Unwilling or unable?
— Bill Weir (@BillWeirCNN) February 16, 2015Going from Chris Rock's intro for Eddie Murphy to the actual Eddie Murphy we got there was like going from cocaine to heavy sedatives
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 16, 2015How do you have Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock make a dual appearance on SNL and not end up with the greatest moment in comedy history?
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) February 16, 2015How does Miley get more stage time than Eddie Murphy? #SNL40
— Tall Cathy (@tallcathy) February 16, 2015Murphy last appeared on the show Dec. 15, 1984 as host. He notably skipped the "SNL" 25th anniversary and show creator Lorne Michaels has publicly acknowledged some bad blood with Murphy after he approved a sketch in the 1990s that poked fun at one of the comedian's box office bombs.
In an April 2013 panel talk moderated by former "SNL" castmember Martin Short, Michaels called his decision to air the sketch starring David Spade, “a mistake,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I figured it was kind of a clean hit. I didn’t really think about it, but Eddie did,” he said, recounting that Murphy called Spade after the skit saying, “You’re standing on my shoulders, you didn’t get to be there unless I was there.”
On Sunday night's show, all three men were there and the decades-old jab seemed forgotten.
As for Murphy's missing humor, all we can say is maybe he was saving his humor for the after-party.