In the 1980s, SNL unleashed their version of Gumby, a rare chance for generations to coalesce around a common hero.
Kids of the 1950s and 1960s remember Gumby as the lovable, goofable, flexible green dude who came to life on Howdy Doody.
(Or, you know, they’re dead. But we’ll go with them remembering Gumby that way. And they definitely remembered him in the 1980s.)
On the other hand, kids of the 1970s and 1980s pretty much had no idea who Gumby was.
All that changed in 1982, though, when Eddie Murphy introduced the world to his version of Gumby on Saturday Night Live.
Here we had a lovable, goofable, flexible green dude onscreen who turned into a swearing, cigar-smoking, hard-driving taskmaster the moment the cameras turned off.
Kids and young adults laughed at the absurd about-face, and they outright guffawed at Murphy’s bigger-than-life portrayal.
And “kids” who grew up with the original Gumby gasped … slapped their hands over their eyes to avert the horror.
Peeked out between their fingers.
Snickered a little at the bawdy version of Gumby.
Finally … let down their guards and embraced the two sides of Murphy’s creation, which they always suspected afflicted their favorite stars, anyway.
And, so a late-night start was born.
Today, as those kids of the 80s get older and the kids of the 50s and 60s get older and deader, we often find ourselves longing for simpler times.
Times like Saturday night, squirming in delight as Murphy left everyone uncomfortable … and laughing.
Here then, are four of Murphy’s SNL Gumby skits that will definitely make you giggle, and miss the 1980s.
If you want he true story about someone’s life, you should get it directly from them, right?
I mean, a Gumby-produced biography of Gumby would tell the truth, and the whole truth … right?
Well, maybe if you’re adept at reading between the lines.
Because, while director Gumby has a definite vision for how he wants his biopic to play out, his fiery and cantankerous persona belies the kitty-cat image he wants his lead to portray.
“Who told you to say ‘Dammit’, dammit?!”
When you set a standard, it’s nearly inevitable that there will be copycats.
Take Gumby, for example.
Murphy turned the soft flexer into a hit on SNL in 1982 and set himself up for a beloved recurring character over the next several years.
But when Bruce Dern showed up in Season 8 (1983) to host the late-night soiree, he decided to usurp the Gumby persona in the opening monologue.
As you might imagine, the real Gumby was waiting in the wings, and a gooey, hilarious pissing match ensued.
Gumby Washed Up
Everybody gets older, feels washed up once in awhile.
Even happens to celebrities and superstars of the silver and small screens.
But not everyone buys the hype about getting older, and you can count Gumby firmly in that camp.
When whispers about some slippage wafted their way to Old Man Gumby’s hair-encrusted ears, he raged against the dying of the light.
Of course, sidekick Pokey’s capitulation to time only made Gumby more frustrated.
So maybe Gumby did pick up a few chinks in his soft green armor during the 1980s.
Maybe Pokey was right, and the Dynamic Duo would eventually have to slow down.
And so they did, hastened by Murphy’s departure from Saturday Night Live in 1984.
But you can’t keep a good green man-thing down forever and you can’t keep him away from the limelight.
In many ways Gumby’s return to SNL (in 2019) was inevitable …
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End Date: Monday 11/23/2020 23:14:14 EST
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