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Foxx began the show by introducing Eddie on stage and paying his Dreamgirls pal a bevy of compliments. "Not one comedian can tell you that they didn't look at Eddie Murphy and want to be like him," Foxx said.
Tracy Morgan stepped out next, wearing Murphy's signature red leather suit from his 1983 special Delirious before playing a video of current SNL castmembers Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, Jay Pharaoh and Kennan Thompson honoring Murphy.
"I'll tell you what Eddie's real legacy is—he made comedy sexy," Morgan said.
"Before Eddie, young men like me had to choose between being sexy and being funny," he laughed. "But when Eddie came out in his fine-ass leather suit in Delirious, that's when I realized, ‘Eddie! I can be sexy and funny at the same time!' I don't have to choose anymore."
Sandler also talked about Murphy's Delirious.
"I'm here to talk about one of the most legendary comedy specials of all time, Eddie Murphy's Delirious," adding that he was a sophomore in high school when it came out.
"As I watched, I said to my father, ‘I want to be that guy when I grow up.' My father said, ‘You can't, you're not black.' My mother said to my father, ‘As far as you know.'"
Murphy's Coming to America costar Samuel L. Jackson paid homage to his films like 48 Hrs. and Beverly Hills Cop.
"Eddie Murphy is the man that changed the course of American film history, and I don't exaggerate when I say that," he said. "He did it in 1987 when he gave me, Sam Jackson, my first big role in a major film, and thereby launched my career."
Jackson wryly added, "If it weren't for Eddie, the world would not have all the wonderful film's I have made."
Brand took the stage and buttered Murphy up before bringing the humor. "I've never worked with Eddie, I'm simply a fan that's come here to say nice things," before calling out Murphy's infamous relationship with Melanie Brown.
"I'm very, very honored to be a part of this," he said. "I'll give you anything. Even as an Englishman, have all the Spice Girls for all I care!"
The highlight of the night came when Stevie Wonder, who Murphy famously spoofed back on SNL, made a surprise performance. The singer sang "My Cherie Amour" before Murphy hopped on stage to perform "Higher Ground" with Wonder, leaving the crowd cheering and giving a standing ovation.
Other presenters during the night included Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, Brett Ratner, Dreamworks honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg and Murphy's brother Charlie, among others.
Before the big show, Murphy opened up about being the man of the night. "When you get an honor like this you feel like an old person so I'm calling everyone kid and sonny and stuff like that," he told reporters, adding, "It's a wonderful thing."