Eddie Murphy made his long-awaited return to Saturday Night Live at the weekend, but his opening monologue didn’t go down well with everyone – particularly Bill Cosby, whose publicist has called the film star a “Hollywood slave” over an ill-received joke about his client.
Murphy took the lead for the US sketch show’s traditional opening, which features the guest star presenting a joke-packed speech.
However, a jibe about incarcerated Cosby prompted a weighty response from the star’s publicist, accusing Murphy of “bringing down” black people and “just becoming click bait”.
Cosby is serving three to 10 years in prison for three counts of aggravated indecent assault in 2004, and Murphy made a joke comparing his life as a stay-at-home dad to 10 kids with Cosby’s sentence.
He said: “But if you would have told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring, stay-at-home house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail, even I would have took that bet."
Murphy then impersonated Cosby’s character Cliff Huxtable, saying: “Who is America’s dad now?”
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It sparked an outraged response from Cosby’s publicist, who posted on the former sitcom star’s Instagram account: “One would think that Mr Murphy was given his freedom to leave the plantation so that he could make his own decisions; but he decided to sell himself back to being a Hollywood Slave.”
The statement added that Cosby had paved the way for stars such as Murphy and Dave Chappell, who he was joined by on Saturday Night Live.
It ended: “Bill Cosby became legendary because he used comedy to humanize all races, religions and genders; but your attacking Mr Cosby helps you embark on just becoming click bait.
“Hopefully, you will be amenable to having a meeting of the minds conversation, in order to discuss how we can use our collective platforms to enhance Black people rather than bringing all of us down together.”
Murphy has not responded, other than changing his Instagram bio to “Who is America’s dad now?”.