Earlier this year Eddie Murphy made a brief and jokeless appearance on SNL 40, a lackluster performance he later attributed to his unwillingness to “kick [Bill Cosby] when he is down” by playing him in a skit. Well, either things are looking up for Cosby or Murphy’s empathy doesn’t extend to public broadcasting, because according to The Hollywood Reporter Murphy was full of Bill Cosby jokes at the ceremony presenting him with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Sunday night.
At the gala, which was held at the Kennedy Center in DC, comedians from Tracy Morgan—who called Murphy “the reason I’m in comedy … the reason I have a job … the reason I have a career”—to Kevin Nealon to newly minted Daily Show host/Coming To America fan Trevor Noah, praised Murphy’s talent and icon status, revealing what, exactly, it takes to get Eddie Murphy to do stand-up again. Speaking of, Murphy accepted the award by performing his first (public) stand-up set in 28 years, including what we must say is a pretty decent Bill Cosby impression. You can hear some of it beginning at the 2:29 mark:
Bestowing the network with the most edge it’s had since that one episode of Fawlty Towers (you know the one), PBS has released a statement saying it won’t cut Murphy’s remarks about Cosby from its telecast of the awards ceremony on November 23. It then immediately lost that edge by adding, “in order to comply with FCC regulations regarding profanity, audio bleeps will be used as necessary.”