WASHINGTON — Eddie Murphy finally let loose with jokes at the expense of his idol and comedic predecessor when he took the top comedy award at the Kennedy Center this past weekend.
Murphy, who hadn’t told a joke onstage in almost 30 years since his RAW movie concert became the highest-grossing film of its kind in history, finally ripped off a few scorching hot one-liners and impersonations of Cosby as some of comedy’s biggest names gathered to salute one of their own at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
There hadn’t been the need to do stage comedy anymore since Murphy was, at one time, the highest grossing actor in Hollywood history and still remains in the upper echelon of box office attractions all time.
This was interesting, because Murphy, a famous “Saturday Night Live” alum, had refused to joke about Cosby during their recent 40th anniversary celebration on live TV.
Murphy, nominated for an Academy Award for his role of a drug-addled singer in the hit movie Dreamgirls, was honored with the 18th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in a star-studded celebration.
Chris Rock, who typically infuses his comedy sets with musings about the current state of politics, kept his ode to his friend Murphy decidedly 2016-free.
“Eddie inspired me,” Chris Rock told the crowd. “He made me who I am today.”
Some of the country’s biggest names in comedy, including Kathy Griffin , Dave Chappelle, “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, “SNL” alums Joe Piscopo and Tracy Morgan, current “SNL” cast member Jay Pharoah and Arsenio Hall were all on-hand to honor Murphy.
Before he sat down, Murphy turned the focus of his acceptance speech to 2009 Mark Twain Prize recipient Bill Cosby.
“There was a big outcry from people who was trying to get Bill to give his trophies back,” said Murphy, who had declined to impersonate the disgraced “Cosby Show” star during his appearance on the “SNL” anniversary show.
He continued, to laughs, “You know you’ve f—– up when they want you to give your trophy back,” before offering a minute-and-a-half long impersonation of Cosby.
The Kennedy Center event airs on PBS stations on Nov. 23.
Take a look at Murphy’s jokes and impersonation of Cosby below: