Eddie Murphy's Refusal to Play Bill Cosby on 'SNL' Doesn't Make Him Cool

Eddie Murphy Bill Cosby

Eddie Murphy’s being praised for refusing to play Bill Cosby during the SNL 40th Anniversary Special on February 15th. Comedian Norm MacDonald has called him “the coolest, a rockstar even in a room with actual rockstars,” and even Cosby himself has spoken out in gratitude for Murphy’s decision. Personally, I’m glad he didn’t participate in the skit lampooning Cosby —  but not for any reasons of loyalty or professional courtesy.


To be clear, it’s not that I think bringing up Bill Cosby’s legal woes should be off-limits. After more than two dozen women have accused him of sexually assaulting them, Cosby himself is still making light of his situation: he recently earned cheers for stopping a live performance in London, Ontario to tell a female audience member, “You have to be careful about drinking around me.” Ha ha! It’s funny because he’s accused of drugging and raping women!

As much of a Bill Cosby fan as I used to be, I think it’s fair game to publicly skewer him for the allegations, just as it’s fair game for people like his former TV wife Phylicia Rashad to defend him. You know what they say about opinions and assholes: everyone’s got one.

More from The Stir:Bill Cosby's Response to Those Sexual Assault Allegations Is Unsettling

But given the seriousness of the charges against Cosby, I feel like it’s wildly uncomfortable to sit around in our living rooms guffawing at Eddie Murphy performing what surely would have been an attention-grabbing impression of the embattled Jello spokesman. Here’s how MacDonald described how the skit was supposed to go down:

The category would be potent potables, a common one on Jeopardy, but one we somehow had never done. And the idea was that it would be a bar set. And the idea was that Cosby would be mixing a drink in a video that was taped 6 months ago…. The iconic doors would open and on to home base would step Eddie Murphy. The audience would know what to do. Why is Eddie wearing a multi-colored sweater? He steps behind the bar, begins mixing a drink. The audience covers the fact he has not spoken. When he speaks, he is Cosby. Eddie Murphy doing a perfect Cosby impression. The audience does not let him finish. The sketch ends.

However, Murphy ultimately decided to pass on the gag:


I have to wonder if that’s really why Eddie Murphy didn’t do the bit. Was he really taking the high road, showing compassion for a man embroiled in scandal? Or did he simply decide he didn’t want to be associated with the subject matter?

Regardless, I’m glad it didn’t turn into a hee-haw sound bite eventually shared via YouTube clips. But I don’t think we should bow down to Eddie Murphy for being too cool to touch Bill Cosby’s once-hallowed reputation. We can leave the public praise to Cosby himself:

I am very appreciative of Eddie and I applaud his actions.

What do you think of Eddie Murphy's decision?

Image via NBC

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