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Eddie Murphy says his old jokes about gay people, AIDS are ‘cringey’

Regrets, Eddie Murphy may have a few.

Throughout his old stand-up routines in the 1980s, including his 1983 special “Delirious,” the comic made numerous anti-gay jokes — even using slurs against his targets — that drew blowback and protests.

But in an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning,” Murphy seemed to express some regret — or at least shock at his own audacity — when asked if the content was still funny to him.

“Some of it. Some of it, I cringe when I watch,” he said. “I’m like, oh my God, I can’t believe I said that!”

However, the “Saturday Night Live” alum also appeared to chalk it all up both to being “within the context of the times” and being a young performer. (He was only 19 when he joined the cast of “SNL” in 1980.)

“You’ll get a joke that’s cringey. But that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate it. I still appreciate it,” he said, adding, “And I’m going, okay, I’m a kid, saying that.”

Murphy, who is seeing a comeback of sorts in the Golden Globe-nominated film “Dolemite Is My Name,” had previously apologized, in 1996, for his jokes about the LGBTQ community and AIDS, saying he was “misinformed” at that age, adding, “I deeply regret any pain all this has caused.” In a New York Times interview in September, he elaborated, calling his early material “ignorant.”

Even with such a big spotlight beaming on the edgy comic as a young man, he said that he avoided “self-destructive” issues like drug problems because he was “grounded spiritually,” he told CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith.

Host Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat during the
Host Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat during the “Masked Singer” sketch on Dec. 21, 2019Will Heath/NBC

“I believe in God and I believe in prayer,” he said. “I pray all the time, you know. I pray all the time. And you don’t have to, like, get down on your knees and pray, you know. You can pray wherever.”

While on “SNL,” the actor, comedian and singer, now 58, created memorable characters that helped save the late-night sketch show. Amid much fanfare — and in the wake of rave reviews for “Dolemite” — he returned to host the show Dec. 21 after 35 years away, resurrecting many of his most memorable sketch roles, including Gumby, “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” and Buckwheat.

When asked whether he was indeed in the midst of a comeback in the “CBS Sunday Morning” interview, he seemed to give in.

“I guess, you know, they like to say comeback,” Murphy said. “I don’t know. Let’s make it easier. Yes, it’s my comeback. Yes, it’s my big comeback!

“Every 10 years or so I launch a big comeback. I’ve been doing that for the last 40 years.”

Eddie Murphy Reprises Legendary ‘Buckwheat’ Character In ‘Masked Singer’ Inspired Sketch On ‘SNL’

Eddie Murphy Reprises Legendary ‘Buckwheat’ Character In ‘Masked Singer’ Inspired Sketch On ‘SNL’ Eddie Murphy is back on ‘SNL’ after a 35 year absence, bringing back his most iconic characters including Buckwheat, Gumby, Velvet Jones & Mister Robinson! Eddie Murphy … read more