While accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday night, Eddie Murphy joked about Bill Cosby as part of his first stand-up set in 28 years.
“Bill has one of these,” Murphy said of the award. “Did you all make Bill give his back? I know there was a big outcry from people, they were trying to get Bill to give his trophies back. You know you f—ed up when they want you to give you trophies back.”
Many colleges and universities have rescinded honorary degrees award to Cosby in the wake of the numerous sexual assault allegations levied against the 78-year-old comedian in the last year. There was also a push to strip Cosby of the Medal of Freedom award he was given in 2002. (“With respect to the medal of freedom. There’s no precedent for revoking a medal – we don’t have that mechanism,” President Barack Obama said when asked about taking back the honor.)
“He should do one show where he just come out and talk crazy now,” Murphy said on Sunday night, before shifting into his famous Cosby impersonation. “I would like to talk to some of the people who feel that I should give back my motherf—ing trophies.”
According to the Washington Post, Murphy later joked as Cosby, “You may have heard recently that I allegedly put the pill in the people’s stomach […] If I ever see or meet this Hannibal Buress in person I am going to try and kill this man!”
Murphy, who famously impersonated Cosby during the 1987 stand-up film Raw, has stayed away from making public comment on the allegations against the 78-year-old comic. Most recently, Murphy declined to joke about Cosby during the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special.
“It’s horrible,” Murphy told the Washington Post last week about Cosby. “There’s nothing funny about it. If you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you’re just hurting people. 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.’”
But speaking to the Washington Post on Sunday night, Arsenio Hall said Murphy discussed the Cosby joke beforehand, explaining, “ ‘Because Cosby gonna get sick of this soon, he’s gonna get sick of people hating, and eventually he’s gonna have to say something.’”
Eddie Murphy: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize will air on PBS on Nov. 23.