Eddie's brother, Charlie Murphy, came to stand-up late but was immediately hooked.

Eddie's brother, Charlie Murphy, came to stand-up late but was immediately hooked.

HE HAS worked with Spike Lee, Chris Rock and Ben Stiller but the one credit he didn't earn is the one with which stand-up comedian Charlie Murphy is most usually tagged: Eddie Murphy's brother.

Charlie is 52, a year older than Eddie, and was the first of the Murphy brothers to enter showbiz when he landed a part in Hal Ashby's 1970 film The Landlord. ''I was nine years old, and the neighbourhood boys' club had a raffle to find extras, and my name was drawn from a hat,'' he recalls.

He spent an enjoyable enough day shooting his scene, but nothing in his Brooklyn childhood had prepared him for the fact that extras weren't really the focus of the action. So when the film opened, his whole family got dressed up and headed off to the movies with very high expectations indeed.

''And 40 minutes in, the scene comes on, and it's 'There he is' and that's the end of it,'' Murphy said. ''It didn't exactly make me want to be in the movies.''

In fact, Charlie Murphy was something of a late developer, showbiz-wise. He didn't do his first stand-up gig until he was 42, and even then only because a friend kept taunting him, telling him he didn't have the guts to get up on stage. When he finally took the plunge at an open-mic night, he was meant to be on for five minutes. He stayed three times that long and was immediately hooked.

He came the long way round in part because he went off the rails a little after his father died (Charlie was 10 at the time). He credits a six-year stint in the Navy with straightening him out.

''While I was there, I didn't think it was such a great experience, but looking back it was,'' he says. ''I became a man in the navy. I got my first car in the navy, my first apartment, I got married for the first time, my first bank account. I wasn't even responsible enough to have a chequebook until I went into the military.''

By the time he decided to try his hand at acting, Eddie was already a star. Aged nearly 30, Charlie decided to leave his family back east and try his luck in Hollywood.

''I spent six months sleeping on this guy's couch, I went to like five auditions every day and I didn't get no job.'' Just as he was about to admit defeat, he scored a small part on a TV show called Sonny Spoon. ''He was a vicious Jamaican hitman called Rat Man. He didn't talk, he just made sounds, and when he was arrested and put in jail, he chewed his arm off and swam from Jamaica to America with one arm.''

He knew the part was ridiculous, but he needed it. ''And when I showed it to my brother, he just burst out laughing. My feelings were hurt but I didn't say anything.''

Since then he's landed more parts, not all of them as laughable, and some of them with his brother. With Eddie, he wrote the screenplays for Vampire in Brooklyn and Norbit, both critically savaged but reasonably successful at the box office.

Family ties aside, it is his work with Dave Chappelle for which Charlie Murphy is best known, and especially for his recurring sketch ''Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories'' on Chappelle's Show, in which he re-enacted improbable, almost dreamlike, stories of encounters with the rich and famous (Rick James and Prince chief among them). The show ended in 2006 but thanks to the miracle of YouTube, Murphy's stories live on.

But are they true? ''Absolutely, and that's why they never run out,'' he says. ''As long as I wake up tomorrow, there'll be another story. Every day something happens that never happened to you before.''

A lot of what happened to him happened because he was part of Eddie's entourage. In the end, has having such a famous brother been a blessing or a curse?

''The curse part is temporary,'' he says. ''I always say the devil can give you a treat but God gives you gifts. A gift lasts forever, a treat is temporary. And a curse is temporary. When I first came in, the curse was powerful. People doubted me because they'd never heard of me; 'How could this guy possibly be doing stand-up now when 20 years ago I heard about Eddie? How can he all of a sudden be a funny stand-up?' ''

He swears it's an attitude he still encounters after a decade of performing, but it's one he thrives on ''because I disprove it every night''.

''People come and tell me after the show, 'I didn't expect you to be funny','' he says. ''That's a weird compliment. What did you come here for? To get mad?''

Charlie Murphy is at the Princess Theatre April 19 and 20 and the Enmore in Sydney on April 26.

twitter Karl Quinn is on Twitter: @karlkwin