Fans of comedy – and good value – should love “The Comedy Get Down.”
Five established comics – “Kings of Comedy” alum D.L. Hughley, actor-comic George Lopez, the charismatic Cedric the Entertainer, the wild and unpredictable Eddie Griffin and “Chappelle’s Show” favorite Charlie Murphy – will each deliver sets in Friday’s show at the PNC Arena in Raleigh.
The talent in the lineup is undeniable.
Hughley, 53, is a jack of all trades. The quick-witted comic starred in the ABC sitcom “The Hughleys” and on the short-lived Aaron Sorkin drama “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”
“I’ve evolved throughout my career,” Hughley said. “I’ve grown. I’ve worn different hats, but I’ve never left stand-up behind. I’ve always gone back to it. I love it.”
Hughley, who was part of the very successful “Original Kings of Comedy” tour during the ’90s, which also featured the late Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer, enjoys the camaraderie of a group tour.
“It’s always a great time when you get a group of comics together, who get along,” Hughley said. “And we all get along and have fun together.”
You can count on Hughley to get political, since he always follows what’s coming out of Washington. In fact, Hughley is so adept at political humor that Bill Maher dubbed him his favorite guest on the HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
“I’ve had a myriad of guests but D.L. is great,” Maher has said. “He’s smart, funny and prepared.”
Like Hughley, Lopez, 55, starred in an ABC sitcom, “George Lopez.”
Griffin, 48, breathed rarefied Hollywood air when he scored the lead in the comedy flick “Undercover Brother” in 2002. The Kansas City native also had sitcom success with “Malcolm and Eddie.”
Cedric the Entertainer, 52, co-starred in the WB sitcom, “The Steve Harvey Show” and was the host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
Murphy makes his mark
Unlike the aforementioned comics, Murphy, 57, didn’t kick off his comedy career until he was in his mid-20s, and things didn’t quite click for him for another decade. His younger brother, the iconic Eddie Murphy, cast a long shadow.
However, Charlie Murphy became a star in his own right, due to his hilarious work on Dave Chappelle’s “Chappelle’s Show.” His humorous portrayal of Rick James (“I’m Rick James, bi---!”) helped take his career to another level. That signature line is often yelled his way.
“But I’m fine with that,” Murphy said. “That’s what put me where I’m at. It’s like having a hit song. People want to hear it. I’m willing to bet that I’ll always have people ask me to do it, and I’m good with that. ‘Chappelle’s Show’ helped me cross over to a bigger audience. I’ll always be thankful for that.”
There were only three seasons of “Chappelle’s Show,” but TV Guide ranked it number 31 on its list of “TV’s Top 100 Shows.”
“That show was way ahead of its time,” Murphy said. “Nobody is like Dave Chappelle. People still love watching ‘Chappelle’s Show’ because it’s funny and it’s honest. That’s an essential ingredient when you do comedy. You really need to be honest, and few people have ever been as honest as Dave Chappelle.”
Well, Murphy is as direct as Chappelle. “I tell it like it is in my world,” Murphy said. “With politics, I’m not going to tell you who I’ll vote for but I’ll tell you how the politicians affect me.”
Murphy’s first taste of the business was being part of his legendary brother’s entourage.
“That got me in the door,” Murphy said. “But I had to earn it. Every night you go out there you have to earn it.”
There is always pressure on Murphy once he hits the stage.
“It’s not easy being Eddie Murphy’s brother and from ‘Chappelle’s Show,’ ” Murphy said. “People expect you to be as funny as Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle.
“What I’ve felt like when I’ve gone onstage and nobody heard me before but just knew my brother and ‘Chappelle’s Show,’ it’s like, ‘Hey, you better be the funniest person I ever saw in my life or I hate you.’ That’s a lot to deal with. That’s more than most people can deal with. I’m the only comic that has that kind of pressure, correct?”
Well, there’s also Tony Rock, Chris Rock’s younger brother.
“You’re right,” Murphy said. “Tony Rock definitely faces the same type of pressure as me. He has to deal with the same exact crap, and that’s tough. ‘Hey, you’re Chris Rock’s brother, make me laugh.’ Not only is Tony Rock really funny but he’s nothing like Chris. I give him props for that.”
But Murphy really doesn’t have to worry about it. He’s an established humorist who has his own voice.
“That’s the key,” Murphy said. “You’ve got to be your own person out there.”
All of the comics on the “Comedy Get Down” tour are unique and have years of experience, which is key for this type of show.
“There’s no substitute for that,” Murphy said. “You go out there and hone your skills in the clubs and work your way up, and you get to do exactly what you want to do. This is the greatest career. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Cedric the Entertainer concurs.
“There’s nothing more I enjoy than doing stand-up,” said Cedric the Entertainer, who was born Cedric Kyles. “I always loved the drives from town to town. It’s all so stimulating to me. Going from place to place inspires material. I just take what pops into my head and air out what’s on my brain when I hit the stage.
“I’ll change things up and just have fun when I’m up there,” he continues. “Television is great, but you’re following a script. I don’t have a script when I’m onstage. There’s no gatekeeper. I just go where I want to go and do whatever I want to do.”
What: “The Comedy Get Down” featuring D.L. Hughley, George Lopez, Cedric the Entertainer, Charlie Murphy and Eddie Griffin
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh
Info: 919-861-2323 or thepncarena.com