When Eddie Murphy first joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in the 1980s, there were many people who argued that he was the sole reason the show didn’t go off the air. Murphy joined the show right after most of the original cast departed, and proved to be one of the funniest castmembers the show ever had.
As it turns out, though, Murphy said there was just one sketch that kept him employed on the show during his earliest days.
In a web-series for the show that followed his return as host, the comedian said that a sketch involving him eating dog food is ultimately what kept him on the show. In the interview, he recalled what it was like to be on the show after the original cast had departed.
“You would walk down the street and people are like, ‘You on the new Saturday Night Live? Y’all ain’t s**t!'” After the first season featuring a new cast, creator Lorne Michaels cleaned house, with the exception fo Murphy and one other cast member.
Murphy discussed the firing of the entire cast, and said that there was just one sketch that made head writer Michael O’Donoghue want to keep him around. The sketch in question was a segment on Weekend Update where Murphy had eaten dog food on camera. O’Donoghue was a fan of that sketch.
“When O’Donoghue fired everybody, he came in and he said, ‘The only reason Murphy didn’t get fired is that he ate that dog food!'” Murphy explained in the web series.
As it turns out, the dog food Murphy had eaten wasn’t actually dog food at all. “And I was like, ‘But that wasn’t dog food, that was hash,'” Murphy explained ” And he looked at me like, What the f**k? But it was too late, and I kept the show … If he had known that was hash, none of this would be happening.”
James A. Miller, who wrote a book on “SNL’s” history, told ThinkProgress that Murphy had saved the show. “I think there are a lot of arguments to be made over who may have been the best cast member or the funniest cast member, but I think 19-year-old Eddie Murphy hopped on Saturday Night Live at a time when its future was very uncertain,” Miller said. “It was a time when it was without its godfather, Lorne Michaels. It was a time when there weren’t a lot of other standouts in the cast… Many others played critical roles in SNL reaching 40 years on the air. But Eddie was vital.”