Eddie Murphy made his first joke that was onstage in 28 years on Sunday when he accepted the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humour in Washington DC.
The comedian’s selection of goal for his first gag in almost three decades was another former honouree, Bill Cosby, whose reputation is currently in tatters after sexual assault allegations that are recent.
The show was started by Arsenio Hall, who compared his friend Murphy to the initial receiver of the prize, the late, great Richard Pryor.
“When it concerns masters of everything who do it all in humor, only two come to mind,” Hall said. “The first receiver, Richard Pryor, and tonight’s receiver, Eddie Murphy.” Also on hand to observe Murphy’s career was Tracy Morgan, fresh off his triumphal ‘SNL’ hosting show, just over a year after being involved in a serious car accident.
Collecting the decoration, Murphy joked about how it’s a little misleading to call the honour a ‘prize’, “it is an award, because generally when it is a prize there’s money involved.” Murphy joked. “To clear up the confusion for future recipients…should you not need to call it an award, maybe you’ll be able to call it the Mark Twain Surprise. The ‘surprise’ is you do not get any money!”
Murphy then addressed former recipient Bill Cosby, who collected the prize in 2009, saying that you realize you have messed up “when they would like you to give your decoration back.” As stated by the Washington Post Murphy then started into an impersonation of Cosby.
“You could have learned lately that I supposedly put the pill in the people’s belly,” Murphy as Cosby joked.