“Thank you so much, it’s great to be back here finally hosting Saturday Night Live for Christmas,” he said.
Dressed in a sharp all-black suit, Murphy beamed as he launched into his monologue after the cold open.
“This is the last episode of 2019,” he said. “But if you’re Black, this is the first episode since I left back in 1984.”
Murphy joined the cast at the young age of 19 in 1980. This is his first time hosting the show since 1984. He’s been touted as one of the long-running series’ biggest discoveries and has been credited with energizing the show during his time as an SNL cast member.
Murphy was known for spoofing characters such as Mister Robinson, Gumby, Buckwheat and James Brown. SNL hyped up his appearance by sharing some of his best sketches in a compilation earlier this week. He appeared on the mid-season finale as some of these characters.
By 1984, he had left the show and was starring in Beverly Hills Cop. He is also known for movies such as The Nutty Professor (1996), Shrek (2001), and most recently Dolemite is My Name (2019).
On Saturday night, he poked fun at his preference to stay home as a father to 10 children.
“My kids are actually pretty much my whole life now,” he said. “But if you had told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring stay-at-home house-dad, and Bill Cosby would be in jail, even I wouldn’t have taken that bet.”
Imitating Cosby’s voice, he said: “Who is America’s dad now!”
In an interview with the Today Show earlier this week, Murphy was asked what it feels like to re-enter Rockefeller Center’s Studio 8H.
“It was kind of surreal but, like, a good feeling,” he said. “But it feels kind of dreamy.”
Murphy reminisced about some of his first SNL sketches: “More than the actual doing, I remember the sound in the room and the feeling in the room … I couldn’t wait for the kids I went to high school with to see it.”
“All I knew at the moment was that I was extremely fortunate,” Murphy told Today Show co-host Al Roker.
His solo opener on SNL’s latest episode didn’t remain a monologue for long. Murphy was soon joined on stage by fellow comedians Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, and SNL cast member Kenan Thompson.
One by one, they pretend to pitch sketches to him.
“Come on man, I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” Rock joked. “My kids love Lizzo!” Lizzo was the musical guest for this episode.
At one point Chapelle appeared to light up a cigarette and commented on Murphy’s career trajectory.
“You know I followed your blueprint for my entire career,” Chappelle quipped. “I became the biggest star in television and then I quit.”
“See, this is why I came back to Saturday Night Live,” Murphy remarked. “For moments like this.”
Chappelle also acknowledged the collective comedic talent gathered onstage.
“Right now you’re looking at half of Netflix’s budget,” he said.
The final episode of 2019 kicked off with a similarly star-laden cold open featuring Alec Baldwin as U.S. President Donald Trump, SNL alum Rachel Dratch as Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, Fred Armisen (also a former cast member) as candidate Michael Bloomberg, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, and Kate McKinnon playing both Elizabeth Warren and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
SNL returns with new episodes on Jan. 25 in the new year.