Eddie Murphy revives Gumby, Mr. Robinson in return to 'SNL' after 35 years

He was joined onstage during the opening monologue by fellow comedians Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock and Kenan Thompson.

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By Dennis Romero

In his much-anticipated return to "Saturday Night Live" after 35 years, Eddie Murphy brought back three of his most popular characters after being joined on stage during the opening monologue by Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock and Kenan Thompson.

Noting that more than three decades after he left the show that made him famous, he is now a father of 10 and Bill Cosby is serving time for sexual assault.

"Who's America's dad now?" he said.

"I have 10 kids now," Murphy said. "Eleven if you count Kevin Hart."

Rock told Murphy, "I wouldn't miss this for the world. My kids love Lizzo."

Lizzo, who was recently nominated for eight Grammy Awards, was the night's musical guest.

Chapelle surveyed the talents next to him and said, "Alright, now you’re looking at half of Netflix's budget right here on stage."

Murphy appeared in every sketch on the show except for the cold open, a rare feat. (In 2010, host Betty White is said to have appeared in every sketch).

Within the show's first three sketches, Murphy reprised two of his most famous "SNL" characters — Mr. Robinson, a spoof of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," and Buckwheat of the "Little Rascals."

In "Mister Robinson's Neighborhood," Murphy introduced viewers to the word "gentrification."

"It’s like a magic trick," he said. "White people pay a lot of money and then, poof, all of the black people are gone."

On a send-up of guess-that-pop-star show "The Masked Singer" Murphy appeared as Buckwheat, his telltale, child's voice quickly giving away his character.

"Memember me!" he says as his his identity is revealed beneath a corn cob costume.

He sang a special song for the audience, Beyoncé's "Single Ladies." "All da tingle lady," he sings, "All da tingle lady."

Murphy's grouchy, green Gumby barged onto the satirical news segment, "Weekend Update."

"I'm Gumby, damn it," he said. "I saved this damn show from the gutter."

He appeared unimpressed with co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che.

"I’ve passed kidney stones with more personality than the both of you," he said.

Since departing "SNL" in December 1984 after four seasons as a cast member and as its second-youngest on-air hire, Murphy has become a top-10 box office draw, helping to carry films that have earned nearly $4 billion combined.

In an interview with Al Roker on "TODAY," Murphy said his return this week to Studio 8H for sketch work and rehearsals, "was kind of surreal."

"It feels kind of dreamy," he said.

Murphy first appeared on "SNL" in late 1980, before he was hired as a cast member, and soon became a staple with the sardonic characters he brought back to life Saturday.

It was only a few years later that Murphy was making hit movies, including "Beverly Hills Cop" and "48 Hours." His later work as "Norbit" and "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" also saw him producing top-grossing films.

Although it remains unclear why Murphy didn't return sooner, as many other "SNL" successes have, it may not have helped that his tenure roughly coincided with the only period exacting producer Lorne Michaels wasn't working on the show he created.

Also, Murphy expressed displeasure with a joke former cast member David Spade made at his expense on "SNL" in 1995. Noting a pair of box-office flops for Murphy, Spade said, "Look children, it's a falling star!"

"It’s one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career?" Murphy told Rolling Stone in 2011. "I’m one of you guys."

That year Murphy withdrew as host of the Oscars after the show's producer, whom he had worked with on the movie "Tower Heist," was ousted for using a gay slur and making comments about women many found offensive.

The comedian told Roker on Thursday that he relished the time he spent this week on the "SNL" set.

"I want it to be right," he said.

Murphy produced and stars in the biopic "Dolemite Is My Name," streaming on Netflix.