Eddie Murphy Turned Down Bill Cosby Impression on ‘SNL’ Anniversary
UPDATE: Bill Cosby has released the following statement in regard to Eddie Murphy’s decision not to lampoon him on SNL 40 (via NBC News): “I am very appreciative of Eddie and I applaud his actions.”
In a Twitter monologue that gave remarkable insight into what it was like backstage at the all-star SNL 40 special, Norm Macdonald, the former Weekend Update host and the man known as Turd Ferguson, spent two hours and over 100 tweets detailing his experience from the reunion. Macdonald covered everything from writing the “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch and making amends with Lorne Michaels to taking umbrage with Rolling Stone‘s SNL cast member rankings and, most surprising, trying to recruit Eddie Murphy to portray beleaguered comedian Bill Cosby.
At the tail end of the “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch – which reintroduced Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek and Macdonald as Burt Reynolds/Turd Ferguson – a Video Daily Double appeared in the Potent Potables category. Current SNL cast member Kenan Thompson played Bill Cosby revealing his cocktail recipe, a nod to the sweeping allegations against the comedian.
As Macdonald revealed on Twitter, that cameo was originally written for Murphy, who – after a few days of being pursued by Macdonald, Michaels and even director Brett Ratner (the latter serving as an intermediary for the comic) – decided not to appear in the sketch.
“Murphy knew the laughs would bring the house down. Eddie Murphy knows what will work on SNL better than anyone. Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down,” Macdonald wrote. “Eddie Murphy, I realize, is not like the rest of us. Eddie does not need the laughs. Eddie Murphy is the coolest, a rock star even in a room with actual rock stars.”
Macdonald shared little anecdotes from the rest of his SNL 40 experience, including meeting Paul McCartney and the moment Murphy arrived on set (“It’s like Ali in Zaire,” quipped Chris Rock). Macdonald also visited the writers’ room where Mike Myers and Dana Carvey were working on their special-ending Wayne’s World sketch.
“Mike Myers has an incredible work ethic and no joke is ever good enough and must be beaten, must be beaten. This is what makes him so good,” Macdonald wrote. “This is why he has created a half-dozen perfect comedies. Work ethic, remarkable taste, and never taking no for an answer.”
Macdonald noted that a source of great amusement among the reunited SNL 40 cast members was Rolling Stone‘s Saturday Night Live: All 141 Cast Members Ranked feature, with Macdonald frequently being teased by SNL writer Jim Downey about his own low standing on Rob Sheffield’s list. Macdonald tweeted, “‘As long as I beat [obscure, one-season star] George Coe,’ I said, making a fine joke. Again the truth was a finer joke. Coe had easily outranked me. And on it went.”
Inspired by Macdonald’s monologue, former New York Mets and Yankees pitcher David Cone shared his own favorite memory from the SNL 40 after party: Jay Z asking Yankees pitcher David Wells about throwing the famed “bloody sock” game, even though that was actually the Boston Red Sox’s Curt Schilling’s achievement.