According to Variety, the comedic genius of Eddie Murphy was saluted Sunday by a virtual parade of entertainers during the Kennedy Center’s 18th annual Mark Twain Prize. Murphy opened his first stand-up set in 28 years with an impression of Bill Cosby, whom he refused to play on “Saturday Night Live’s” 40th anniversary show.
While accepting the honor, Murphy riffed on the award, which Cosby won in 2009.“Bill has one of these,” Murphy said, looking at the miniature bust of Twain. “Did you all make Bill give his back?” he asked, referring to alleged efforts by some to have Cosby return his trophy. “You know you f—ed up when they want you to give your trophies back.”
Lapsing into a deft Cosby impersonation, he loudly decried such efforts prompted by certain allegations about his character. It brought down the house. “I would like to talk to some of the people who feel like I should give back some of my f—ing trophies,” Murphy said in his best Cosby voice. “You may have heard recently that I allegedly put the pill in the people’s stomach,” Murphy said while impersonating Cosby. “Who is Hannibal Buress? First of all, Hannibal is a caveman’s name. … If I ever see or meet this Hannibal Buress in person I am going to try to kill this man!”
Fellow comedian Buress put the Cosby allegations back in the spotlight during a stand-up set in 2014. After accepting the award, from Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubinstein, Murphy said he was honored to stand alongside past recipients such as Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Carl Reiner and Lily Tomlin. Yet he regretted that there is no money attached to the honor. “I call it the Twain sur-prize,” he said. Murphy’s versatility in standup, sketch and film genres drew hearty praise mixed with light-hearted barbs from former “Saturday Night Live” chums and others. The event will air Nov. 23 on PBS stations.