Jay Pharoah Is Ready to Play Superman


3. Eddie Murphy’s “Delirious” It’s the greatest comedy special ever, next to “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert.” You want to talk about family stories, perfect impressions, callbacks, racial observation, racial humor — it’s the buffet of comedy. Nobody’s special has been better than that, and that came out in 1983. And until this day I can watch that stand-up and laugh the same way every time, even if I know that the punchline is coming.

4. Charlie Murphy Charlie Murphy [Eddie’s older brother] is somebody who took a chance on me. Being young in the comedy game and killing onstage is intimidating for anybody who’s older. He saw me when I was 19 years old. He was like: “Yo man, that was hilarious. I want to take you on the road with me, man. You want to go?”

He told me about the game. He told me to never lie. He’d say, “As long as you tell them the truth, they will walk with you.” He also said: “No matter what you do, whether it’s your cross, whether it’s a thought, whatever it is, always take God onstage with you.” And number three, and this was a big one, he said: “If you don’t have butterflies or you’re not nervous before you get on that stage, you’re nothing. Because that means you don’t give a [expletive] about your craft anymore.”

5. Carolines on Broadway Charlie Murphy took me to Carolines on Broadway, my first comedy club in New York, and it was an amazing weekend. I remember the third show on Saturday night. It was late. I was tired. Uncle Ray [Murphy], rest in peace, was hosting. I do my set. I got a standing ovation and I’m like, whoa. As I’m trying to leave the stage, I trip. Uncle Ray is sitting in the back, and he goes: “That was good work out there. But we got to work on your balance.”

6. Bombing onstage You have to bomb to become better. You know, all of the greats have bombed and if you haven’t bombed, you’re not great. You will become comfortable in something and you’re perpetuating it, whereas if you bomb, you have to dig in yourself and find something out. There’s no other options.

7. Jay-Z and Chris Martin’s “Beach Chair” I don’t talk about this a lot, but I was depressed in 2007. There was a lot going on. And then good things started happening, and Jay-Z’s “Beach Chair” was the soundtrack for that. That song put me on the Jay-Z wagon. Oh, he’s dope, he’s the G.O.A.T. And that’s the blueprint for my impression. His voice was lucid. It was strong, but it was soothing.