Last night, Eddie Murphy repeated one of his most famous Saturday Night Live roles – the cheerful, pedantic and dodgy Mr. Robinson – in a fan-filled sendup that is current in the light of Fred Rogers’ biopic “A Nice Day In The Neighborhood” now in theaters.
Robinson puts on his cardigan, red sneakers (and a gray afro wig this time) to explain to the kids the gentrification phenomenon that has greatly enhanced Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood, but not his own home. He claims that by disadvantageously owning property, commonly referred to as squatters’ rights.
As for that, the set looks like a virtuoso replica of the apartment from the original sketches (including the black light tiger poster next to the stairs). When there is a knock on the door and Murphy invites the kids to greet the visitor, everyone over 40 knows what’s next. It is the most famous piece of Murphy’s Mr. Robinson character, the second most famous piece is the window escape, which always completes the sketch.
Murphy played Mr. Robinson in nine sketches from 1981 to 1984 and placed him in the pantheon of the great Eddie Murphy characters, alongside the inappropriate variety host Gumby, incoherent hot tub enthusiast James Brown and the fast-paced, murdered buckwheat. Fred Rogers himself is said to have enjoyed the parody and even visited Murphy in his SNL changing room.
Murphy joined Saturday Night Live in 1980 for the five-year Interregnum after creator Lorne Michaels left the show and took most of the cast with her. Murphy is widely considered to be the No. 1 or No. 2 of the largest not ready for prime time players of all time (behind John Belushi at best). Until Michael returned in 1985, Murphy was said to keep the show alive a real superstar and left the show in 1984 for a lucrative career in Hollywood.
Murphy has recently been the star and producer of the critically acclaimed Dolemite is My Name, which premiered in September and will air on Netflix. It is a biographical article about the comedian and film director of blaxploitation, Rudy Ray Moore.