Day 18: Eddie Murphy

Day 18. I’m sharing stand up each day this month, and like last weekend, I’m taking this opportunity to look at classic bits from specials. Today’s is a rock star 1983 performance, “The Ice Cream Man,” from Eddie Murphy’s Delirious and here are some reasons I’m laughing 36 years later:

• THE KID’S PERSPECTIVE. Eddie taps into what is naturally funny to me about kids: their reactions are so big and so unexpected. They’re not self-conscious at all, so when the ice cream man comes, the boy loses his mind and, when he gets his ice cream, has no filters on what he says. To revisit this perspective as an adult is simultaneously relatable and hilarious.

• THE TWISTS. Eddie could have fallen back on world class acting ability, but I’m laughing in this bit because he also has written in so many twists. Like Russell Peters’s dialogue (Day 12), Eddie’s monologue keeps taking unexpected turns: the kid bringing up welfare, the offer to share that’s rescinded, the dropped ice cream, eating fallen ice cream. It’s a string of back-to-back twists that keeps me constantly off balance and constantly laughing.

• LOUD AND SOFT. Throughout the set, Eddie heightens the funny by juxtaposing loud and soft moments The ice cream music is soft, but the kid’s reaction is loud. The kid’s teasing is big and noisy, but when the ice cream falls, it’s silent. By being both unpredictable and swift, these comedic shifts in volume cause me to laugh even more.

For more Eddie Murphy stand up, revisit this iconic special, Delirious, and its follow-up Raw.