Which Classic ‘Saturday Night Live’ Characters Will Eddie Murphy Bring Back?

Saturday Night Live may have added a couple of new faces this season. But the show has provided a springboard for comedic talent for more than 40 years. Since its debut in 1975, NBC’s sketch comedy stalwart has started the careers of icons like Bill Murray, Tina Fey, and Chris Rock.

However, while many of the show’s alumni have reappeared in Studio 8H over the years, Eddie Murphy has been the most notable holdout. Now that the actor is finally returning to host SNL later this year, fans are wondering which of his famous characters he’ll bring with him.

Eddie Murphy at the premiere of 'Dolemite Is My Name'
Eddie Murphy at the premiere of ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ | Rachel Luna/FilmMagic

Back to ‘Saturday Night Live’

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel was also curious about what Murphy has planned for his grand return to SNL on December 21. Towards the end of Murphy’s appearance on the show, Kimmel asked him whether some of his most famous characters would be making a comeback.

The actor seemed excited at the prospect of bringing back characters like his parody of claymation character Gumby. He also teased irreverent TV pitchman Velvet Jones, Little Rascals‘ Buckwheat, and another edition of Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood. As Kimmel points out in the clip, Mister Robinson feels particularly timely, with the upcoming film about Mister Rogers on the way.

The upcoming episode marks only Murphy’s third time as host. He previously hosted the show in 1982 and 1984, the same year he exited the cast. In addition to those characters, Murphy did a number of impressions on SNL, such as Stevie Wonder and Bill Cosby.

Eddie Murphy’s approach to old material

However, fans of Murphy’s time on SNL shouldn’t expect that he’ll dig out all his old toys for this upcoming hosting gig. Firstly, the show needs to be careful not to rely too much on nostalgia. Murphy isn’t going to want to solely trot down memory lane but needs some new material to work with.

More importantly, times have changed a lot since Murphy’s last appearance on the show. For instance, a Cosby impression is out for obvious reasons, as is a reprisal of such dated characters as the flamboyantly gay hairstylist Dion.

For his part, Murphy has recently expressed regret over the more problematic and “ignorant” parts of his career. Such comments speak to Murphy’s own self-awareness and willingness to update his comic persona for 2019. He’s grown and changed a lot over the past few decades, and fans should expect his sense of humor to reflect that.

Could ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ get him an Oscar?

His return to Saturday Night Live is only one component of a hugely pivotal year in Murphy’s career. He’ll not only make his way back to the show that made him famous. Murphy has also announced he’s heading out on a new stand-up comedy tour in 2020. With all-new material on hand, Murphy’s return to the mic is poised to be a tremendous success.

Likewise, Murphy is earning rave reviews for his new Netflix film Dolemite Is My Name. The actor may even secure a second Academy Award nomination. He was previously nominated for his supporting turn in the 2006 musical Dreamgirls. Murphy’s first R-rated film in 20 years, Dolemite follows real-life filmmaker and blaxploitation icon Rudy Ray Moore (Murphy).

Much like The Irishman, Netflix is giving Dolemite Is My Name an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run ahead of awards season. Hot off of that film, Murphy is currently shooting a sequel to 1988 comedy Coming to America and then (possibly) Beverly Hills Cop 4. So, just like back in the 80s, it looks like Murphy’s appearance on SNL is just a precursor to a whole lot more to come.

Eddie Murphy will host Saturday Night Live on December 21. The show airs Saturdays on NBC at 11:30 p.m. EST.