Brett Ratner is producing the next Oscar telecast. Brett Ratner just directed Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in Tower Heist, and has been the rumored choice for a Beverly Hills Cop 4 movie. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Ratner asked Murphy to host the Academy Awards. The surprise is that Murphy has said yes (according to Deadline Hollywood).

Murphy’s career started in stand-up and sketch comedy, having broken into the mainstream on Saturday Night Live as one of the few consistently funny performers during the show’s biggest off years. He leapfrogged into movies, and quickly became the biggest star in America with a string of hit films. And such is why – since the 1987 release of a concert film called Eddie Murphy Raw – Murphy hasn’t been doing a lot of stand-up. That’s one of the most interesting parts of this decision, it’s a skill-set he seemingly abandoned. Having grown up in the 1980′s, most kids had his comedy albums memorized, though much of his humor was profanity-laced,  inappropriate  and now politically incorrect (Murphy had at least twenty minutes of material dedicated to homosexuals). So regardless if he has to change his tone or character a little, Murphy returning to that form is exciting and must be a bit daunting for an artist who hasn’t spent much of the last two decades challenging himself artistically.

The other fascinating aspect about this is that Murphy famously walked out of the ceremony when he lost best supporting actor to Alan Arkin in 2006. And then also: What if Tower Heist bombs? And what will Brett Ratner do with (and quite possibly to) the Oscars? And can it be better or worse than the dullish three hour ceremonies of the last couple years? All I know is that for the first time in a long time I honestly want to watch now.

Can you recite any of Eddie Murphy’s old routines?