The worst career advice Eddie Murphy ever got came from Rodney Dangerfield—here's what he said

Vincent Sandoval | Getty Images

When Eddie Murphy was a young, aspiring comedian, he got the worst career advice he's ever heard, and it came from comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield.

Murphy, who started performing stand-up comedy at the age of 15, told W Magazine he met Dangerfield at a comedy club in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in when Murphy was 19.

As a young, brash comedian, Murphy says he was "full of himself" and he asked Dangerfield — who was already a comedy star and was then starring in the movie "Caddyshack" — if he would watch Murphy's act and offer feedback.

Dangerfield obliged, but was no fan of Murphy's act.

"Back then I was really dirty and did … edgy racial stuff," Murphy told W Magazine. "And it's 1980, so it's like this kid on stage doing edgy racial stuff."

"'Hey, kid,'" Murphy says Dangerfield said to him. "'I don't know where you're going to go with that, ya know, the language and the race stuff.'"

Rodney Dangerfield
Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Murphy's early stand-up performances were commonly full of profane language about sex and racial issues, including offensive homophobic jokes that Murphy later described as "ignorant," admitting that he now cringes at some of his early material.

In his 1987 stand-up film "Eddie Murphy Raw", Murphy reportedly says the word "f--k" over 220 times in 90 minutes. And in fact, Dangerfield wasn't the only older comedian to criticize the profanity in Murphy's act, as Bill Cosby also chastised Murphy for using vulgar language.

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However, what Dangerfield definitely got wrong was the idea that Murphy's profanity and edgy material would hinder his path to success. In fact, Murphy soon rocketed to stardom as a cast-member of "Saturday Night Live" (where some of his most popular characters, from Velvet Jones to Mr. Robinson, dealt with issues such as sex and race).

Murphy's stand-up specials were also extremely popular, with "Raw" raking in more than $50 million at the box office in 1987, making it the highest-grossing stand-up comedy concert film ever. Murphy also went on to become one of the biggest box office draws of the 1980s, with blockbuster comedies such as the "Beverly Hills Cop" movie franchise (with more than $735 million in total global box office revenue over three movies, according to Box Office Mojo).

So, while Murphy admits he was initially "crestfallen" by Dangerfield's criticism of his comedy act, the negative critique obviously did nothing to alter Murphy's career trajectory.

And when Murphy again crossed paths with Dangerfield years later — in a bathroom at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas — the older comedian seemed to admit he'd misjudged Murphy's potential for stardom.

"Rodney Dangerfield comes to the urinal right next to me and I look over and he looks at me, and says, 'Hey, who knew?'" Murphy told W Magazine.

Dangerfield died at age 82 in 2004.

Now 58, Murphy was nominated for a 2020 Golden Globe Award for his starring role in the movie "Dolemite is My Name" and he also recently signed a deal with Netflix (worth an undisclosed amount) to create his first stand-up comedy special since 1987's "Raw."

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