Norm MacDonald explains via Twitter that Eddie Murphy didn't want to make fun of Bill Cosby

By Lynette Rice
Updated February 19, 2015 05:30 AM
Credit: Getty

To hear – or read – Norm Macdonald tell it, “Eddie Murphy knows what will work on SNL better than any one.”

And yet Macdonald couldn’t convince Murphy to participate in the “Celebrity Jeopardy” skit during Sunday’s mammoth Saturday Night Live reunion special on NBC.

In a long series of Tweets late Wednesday, Macdonald waxed on about the history of the skit and how he and other other writers knew it would be comedy gold if Murphy agreed to participate as part of his homecoming to SNL. Murphy hadn’t been back to Studio 8H in more than 30 years.

“Among many other things, this show was to be the return of Eddie Murphy,” Macdonald Tweeted.

The hope, Macdonald explained, was for Murphy to do an impersonation of Bill Cosby in the star-studded sketch that would feature Macdonald reprising his role as Burt Reynolds, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery and Will Ferrell as the game show’s host, Alex Trebek. But Murphy didn’t feel comfortable impersonating Cosby, especially in light of the ongoing sexual assault allegations.

Undaunted, Macdonald approached Murphy when the comedian showed up for a rehearsal.

“We talk in his dressing room a good hour,” Macdonald Tweeted. “When it’s over, I’m convinced he’ll do it.”

But he didn’t.

“He knew the laughs would bring the house down. Eddie Murphy knows what will work on SNL better than any one,” Macdonald continued, then added, “Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man [Cosby] when he is down. Eddie Murphy, I realize, is not like the rest of us. Eddie does not need the laughs.”

Murphy ended up appearing on stage for only 70 seconds Sunday to give thanks to being remembered for his contribution to the show. Kenan Thompson, meanwhile, was the one tasked with playing Cosby in the skit that also featured Jim Carrey as Matthew McConaughey, Kate McKinnon as Justin Bieber, and Taran Killam as Christoph Waltz.

“Eddie Murphy is the coolest, a rockstar even in a room with actual rockstars,” Macdonald Tweeted.