Charlie Murphy on His New Web Show, Dave Chappelle, and Why Critics Were All Wrong About Norbit

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Since Chappelle's Show came to an abrupt end three years ago, breakout star Charlie Murphy has launched a stand-up career (at age 42!) and popped up in movies like Night at the Museum and The Perfect Holiday. Today marks his return to sketch work: Charlie Murphy’s Crash Comedy, a ten-part web series, premieres this afternoon on Crackle.com. He talked to Vulture about his famous brother, making fun of fat people, and what happened to Dave Chappelle.

How did Crash Comedy happen?
I turned down offers for sketch shows on networks, because I knew they would be compared to Chappelle's Show. I was willing to do it on the web because now I’m allowed to take a shot with no handcuffs on. On networks, you got people telling you what you can say, what you can’t say, but now this is up to the public to decide.

You co-wrote Norbit with your brother, Eddie. Where did that idea come from?
There was a video on the Internet of a woman and a man having a fistfight on the street, and the woman knocks the man out like four times. The men we’d watch it with would be kind of silent, but the women watching would always crack up. Eddie and I said, this is funny, we should write a movie where a woman beats up on a man.

It didn’t get the greatest critical reception. You think the critics were missing something?
I think the critics were a little oversensitive, saying we were poking fun at fat people. On the planet we live on, we have people of all shapes and size, so to not be able to talk about someone? Come on, let’s be real. Eddie Murphy was playing a character.

What was your most rewarding professional experience?
Well, for me, it was when my brother came to my stand-up show. And he gave me his blessing and he told me he really enjoyed it. Our careers have nothing to do with our relationship as brothers. We’re really the same. He’s proud of me, I’m proud of him, and we always try to help one another. We always say, what can we do that’s funny? We haven’t had a chance to sit down and come up with something fresh, but wait for it, it’s coming.

How many more seasons do you think you could have done of Chappelle's Show?
We probably could have done seven more, easy. We were given the Holy Grail, we were blessed. We could have done seven years.

Dave Chappelle has said he had issues with some of the racial humor of the show. Did that ever bother you?
Whatever Dave Chappelle was saying that he had problems with, that wasn’t really the problems he was having. Cause where is Dave Chappelle?

I don’t know.
You know what I’m saying? We don’t know what was wrong with Dave. I wish him all the best. Whatever his explanation, I think it’s obvious to everyone that’s not what happened. I still get asked about it today. People still say, so, you guys coming back? Which means there’s a market, but I don’t know if Dave can get a job with a network now.

Do you think he blew it a little bit?
A little bit? First of all, to be black, you a lightning rod in that respect already. And to be black and get the opportunity and then throw it away? I don’t know too many guys that did that and still had a career. You can’t name a guy in the history of the show business who thumbed his nose at the industry and still was supported by the industry. But whatever his reasons, Dave’s happy.