For someone who used to guarantee box-office success and inspired legions of comedians on his way to superstardom, Eddie Murphy has maintained a curiously low profile over the past few years. But now, it seems that he’s enjoying a bit of a resurgence. He’s alleged to star as Marion Barry in a Spike Lee-directed HBO film, will play the father of personal icon Richard Pryor in an upcoming Lee Daniels-directed biopic, and is the subject of a recent and immersive profile in the The Washington Post.
And on Sunday, the legendary comedian and actor was honored for his significant contributions to comedy when he received the Mark Twain Award for American Humor. During a ceremony attended by myriad celebrities and co-stars from Murphy’s prolific career (including Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan and Kevin Nealon), Murphy took time on stage—his first stand up appearance in nearly three decades—to do a spot-on impersonation of Bill Cosby.
Yes, Murphy—who declined a chance to appear as Cosby in the “Saturday Night Live” 40-year reunion special last year because he didn’t want to pile on—asked out loud if Cosby was forced to give back his 2009 Mark Twain Award in light of sexual assault allegations. Then, he spoke with Cosby’s signature and much-lampooned vocal affectation:
You may have heard recently that I allegedly put the pill in the people’s stomach. … Who is Hannibal Buress? First of all, Hannibal is a caveman’s name. … If I ever see or meet this Hannibal Buress in person I am going to try to kill this man!
Murphy also took time to recognize previous recipients of the award, including Pryor, George Carlin and Lily Tomlin.
Numerous comedians also spoke in Murphy’s honor. Arsenio Hall introduced a clip from their classic fish-out-of-water film “Coming to America,” while current “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah recognized Murphy’s influence by saying, “I am part of your legacy, Eddie.”
Awarded by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Mark Twain Award is now in its 18th year. The ceremony will air on PBS on November 23.
Check out a video of Murphy’s Cosby impersonation, courtesy of the Associated Press, above.