Sunday night, Murphy was the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize, and during his acceptance speech, he remarked that Cosby also has a Mark Twain Prize. He asked the crowd if the comedian had to give his back:
No, because I know there was a big outcry from people — they was trying to get Bill to give his trophies back. You know you fucked up when they want you to give your trophies back.
The clip, which starts around 2:30, also shows Murphy doing a Cosby impression, in which the comedian does one show where he talks “crazy” about his “motherfucking trophies.”
This was Murphy’s first standup bit onstage in nearly 30 years. The Washington Post recently profiled Murphy, and he explained that even though Cosby was in the news at the time (for numerous allegations of rape and sexual assault), he didn’t want to do the SNL bit:
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.’
Cosby’s accusers now number in the 50s, and as more women are speaking out, Cosby is seeing more legal issues. Several institutions have revoked honorary degrees and awards. Other comedians have come out against him.
So Murphy seems to have changed his approach, and perhaps he felt it was time, as he walks into his next act and attempts a return to standup. The Washington Post reports that he bounced the material off Arsenio Hall and Chris Rock before the show. According to Hall, Murphy explained his new approach:
“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.”