Eddie Murphy performed live on stage once again on Sunday, October 18 at the Kennedy Center to receive the 18th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. An October 18 Washington Post report revealed how Murphy took to the stage for his first live stand-up comedy routine moment in 28 years choosing to impersonate Bill Cosby. Eddie proudly held the award bust of Twain joking to the audience as if not missing a beat since his last live stand-up stage appearance just shy of 30 years ago.
“Bill has one of these,” Murphy stated with a slight grimace and allowing enough timing for the audience to laugh before continuing, “Did you all make Bill give his back?”
Eddie went on to note, “I know there was a big outcry from people that was trying to get Bill to give his trophies back. You know you’ve really [expletive] up when they want you to give your trophies back.”
The wonderful Murphy then morphed into his impersonation of Cosby.
“I would like to talk to… some of the people who feel [Murphy sneaking in his well-known laugh] that I should give back my [expletive] trophies.”
The huge excitement of Eddie Murphy receiving the Mark Twain honor can be seen in an Associated Press video published on October 19. In the video, Eddie hints that perhaps a stand-up act may again be in his future “eventually.”
This was a notable change from Eddie’s last stage appearance on February 15, 2015, to honor the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live. Murphy stepped onto the SNL stage that evening with people from around the world watching in anticipation of seeing Eddie perform a classic, side-splitting routine. Instead, after Chris Rock led with an exciting introduction to his idol, Eddie walked through the doors onto the stage to simply clap along with the audience and state what an incredible night it was. After saying what a “magical feeling” appearing on SNL was, Murphy seemed to stand in silence as if he forgot he had a world of viewers waiting for a performance. When it was over, stunned spectators questioned, “What happened?”
In a story published by the Washington Post on October 13, Murphy revealed what actually happened on that fateful night to lead him to decide not to actually perform on the SNL anniversary show. Although SNL wanted Murphy to perform his iconic Cosby, Eddie was uncomfortable playing Bill with the unfortunate news being reported about Cosby.
“It was the biggest thing in the news at the time. I can see why they thought it would be funny, and the sketch that Norm [Macdonald] wrote was hysterical.”
Murphy explained why he decided to not do the Cosby bit at that time.
“It’s horrible. 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.'”
On October 15, Murphy posted his excitement of receiving the prestigious Mark Twain prize in a Facebook post.
Murphy humbly took his Mark Twain award smiling his ageless grin. The Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter noted on the website reasons for choosing Murphy as the prize recipient.
“We look forward to paying tribute to Eddie Murphy’s important and lasting impact on American culture. Through his appearances on Saturday Night Live, groundbreaking stand-up comedy, and work as a movie star, Eddie Murphy has shown that like Mark Twain, he was years ahead of his time.”
At the young age of 19, Eddie Murphy joined Saturday Night Live in 1980. With sagging ratings and hints of the show’s demise, Eddie almost single handedly became the savior of SNL with his hysterical character parodies of Mr. Rogers, Gumby, Buckwheat, James Brown, and many more. The extremely popular cast member was such an audience favorite that Murphy even was given the position as host for a show while he was still a member of the SNL cast. After SNL gained back its stability as a hit show, the extremely talented Murphy left the show for the big screen in 1984. If Murphy really does make a stand-up comeback, it would be wonderful for an entire new generation to be introduced to the amazing Eddie Murphy.
[Featured image by Kris Connor/ Getty Images]