Eddie Murphy returns to stand-up with blistering Cosby impression: "You may have heard recently that I allegedly put the pill in the people's stomach"

The legendary comedian accepted his Mark Twain Prize with a short set — his first in 28 years

By Erin Keane

Chief Content Officer

Published October 19, 2015 11:46AM (EDT)

Eddie Murphy        (AP/Chris Pizzello)
Eddie Murphy (AP/Chris Pizzello)

After bowing out of a Bill Cosby joke in a sketch for the "Saturday Night Live" 40th anniversary TV special earlier this year, Eddie Murphy whipped out his impression of the controversial comedian at the Kennedy Center last night. Accepting a Mark Twain Prize, the country's top award for humor, Murphy was honored by a veritable who's who of comedy, including Chris Rock, fellow "SNL" alum Kevin Nealon, Arsenio Hall and Tracy Morgan. And then, The Hollywood Reporter reports, Murphy told a few jokes on stage — no big deal, perhaps, for most comedians, but Murphy hasn't performed stand-up in 28 years.

And according to the Washington Post, he hasn't forgotten the Cosby impression that left such an indelible mark on fans of his 1987 stand-up special "Raw." THR reports:

In referring to Cosby, Murphy joked that you know you've messed up "when they want you to give your trophy back."

“Bill has one of these. Did you all make him give it back?” he asked, as quoted by the Washington Post, before performing an impersonation of Cosby refusing to give back his award.

"I would like to talk to some of the people who feel like I should give back my motherf----in' trophies."

Putting on his best "Pudding Pop" voice, well known from his 1987 standup film "Eddie Murphy Raw," the comedian continued, "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!"

Cosby has been accused by more than 50 women of drugging and/or sexually abusing them over a span of decades.

Last week, Murphy explained that he declined to perform as Cosby during "SNL40" because he didn't see an upside to the joke.

“It’s horrible,” he told the Washington Post's Geoff Edgers. “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.’ ”

Apparently, Murphy tried out his material for a the most select test audience — Hall and Rock — in his hotel room before the show, who encouraged him to go for it. Welcome back, Eddie.

Watch Eddie Murphy's stand up routine below:
[jwplayer file="http://media.salon.com/2015/10/v11.mp4" image="http://media.salon.com/2015/10/cosby_murphy-mash-up1.jpg"][/jwplayer]

By Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's Chief Content Officer. She is also on faculty at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University and her memoir in essays, "Runaway: Notes on the Myths That Made Me," was named one of NPR's Books We Loved In 2022.

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Bill Cosby Comedy Eddie Murphy Mark Twain Prize Saturday Night Live Video