Eddie Murphy made waves in February when he finally returned to Saturday Night Live — but declining to play Bill Cosby in a Celebrity Jeopardy sketch. Why? Because, as Murphy explained to the Washington Post just last week: “If you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you’re just hurting people,” Murphy said.
“You’re hurting him. You’re hurting his accusers. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming back to SNL for the anniversary, I’m not turning my moment on the show into this other thing.'”
Evidently, Murphy has changed his mind.
In Pudding Pop voice glory. Yes, the comedy king Eddie Murphy did first live jokes on stage since 1987.
— Geoff Edgers (@geoffedgers) October 19, 2015
On Sunday night, the Oscar nominee received the Kennedy Center’s prestigious Mark Twain Prize, a humor award whose past recipients include Richard Pryor, Carl Reiner, Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin… and, in 2009, Bill Cosby.
Murphy may not have wanted to spoof Cosby on SNL’s 40th anniversary show, but he showed no qualms about bringing up the disgraced comedian during his Kennedy Center acceptance speech.
“Bill has one of these. Did y’all make Bill give his back?” he said, to shocked laughter from a star-studded crowd including comedians like Dave Chappelle and Trevor Noah. “No, because I know there was a big outcry from people — they was trying to get Bill to give his trophies back. You know you f*cked up when they want you to give your trophies back.”
But Murphy, who hadn’t performed jokes in front of a live audience since 1987, didn’t stop there.
“He should do one show where he just comes out and he just talks crazy now,” Murphy continued. He then slipped into a scorching Cosby impression that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s seen his 1987 standup film, Eddie Murphy Raw: “I would like to talk to some of the people who feel like I should give back my motherf*ckin’ trophies!” (Watch the moment beginning around the 2:30 mark in the video below.)
“You may have heard recently that I allegedly put the pill in the people’s stomach,” Murphy continued, according to the Washington Post. “…If I ever see or meet this Hannibal Buress in person I am going to try and kill this man!” Buress, of course, is the standup comedian generally credited with bringing Cosby’s alleged sexual misconduct back into the public eye last fall.
At least one big-name comedian was thrilled by the routine: Chris Rock, who was backstage during Murphy’s acceptance speech. According to the Washington Post, Rock gave his assessment to Arsenio Hall as Murphy worked through his Cosby material: “That f*cker is killing.”
More than 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. The Kennedy Center’s tribute to Eddie Murphy will air on PBS Nov. 23.