It's never easy to follow in a family member's footsteps, especially when that person is considered one of the best ever in your chosen field.
For most of his career, it seemed that Charlie Murphy would live in the shadow of his younger brother Eddie, making a living in movies but never becoming a star. Then, in his 40s, Charlie landed a breakout role on Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show," which led to a successful stand-up career.
amNewYork spoke with Murphy.
When you were younger and watched Eddie, did you think "I could do that"? No. I started 30 years after he started. My entrance had nothing to do with that. It was a result of "Chappelle's Show" ending. The entire cast was comedians and needed money. They were ready to go on the road. I said I was going to go on auditions and they asked, "Do you get paid for that?" When I said no, they told me to go develop a stand-up act.
Did being Eddie's brother made it harder for you? A lot of people would compare me to him. What's wrong with that is who else do you compare to him? Who else adds up to him? Nobody. Does it make it harder? Absolutely. It's not like people say, "You're so-and-so's brother so I'm going to laugh at your jokes." If they're laughing, it's because you made them laugh.
Was comedy important in your home growing up? The only person in the house in show business back then was Eddie. I was a regular kid. I was into football and baseball, not drama club. But the funny was there. I was a mean kind of funny. I was real good at playing the dozens [verbal insult battles], but that's not comedy.
Do you now see that as training? It was training. That spontaneity onstage is part of the job. When you're with an audience and that audience is drinking, every now and then they say something. All the [dozens] helps you [deal] with that. From the moment I started, I never had a problem with a heckler.
If you go: Charlie Murphy is at Carolines on Friday and Saturday at 8 & 10:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 7:30 & 10 p.m., 1626 Broadway, 212-757-4100, $49.