Back in February, Norm Macdonald tweeted the story of how he tried to get Eddie Murphy to play Bill Cosby during the big SNL 40 show. It’s a fascinating story (which you can read here) about a brilliant idea involving a last-minute decision and Brett Ratner. In short, Eddie didn’t want to do it because, as Macdonald put it, “the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down.”
In the end, Kenan Thompson played Cosby in the sketch, which was a round of Celebrity Jeopardy. The reveal of the character, which happens at about the 8:00 mark, was, in fact, a very funny moment.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Eddie Murphy talked about why he decided not to do the sketch.
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.’Am I just splitting hairs here or does this, along with Norm Macdonald’s comment about “kicking him when he’s down” make it seem like Murphy was more concerned about hurting Cosby’s feelings than “hurting the accusers”? I’m all for comedians not making Cosby jokes if they don’t feel comfortable with it, but please no one be worried about kicking him while he’s down. He is not nearly down far enough.