Eddie Murphy returned to Saturday Night Live for the first time since he stepped away from the show 35 years ago and took the first moments of the night to poke fun at the man who'd criticized him for years: Bill Cosby.
Murphy, who was greeted with roaring applause and audience members chanting his name, started his opening monologue mentioning that he just had a baby last year and was now the father of 10 children. A lot had changed since he first joined the SNL cast in 1980 as a 19-year-old stand-up comic, he said.
"My kids are pretty much my whole life now. But if you would have told me that I would be this boring, stay-at-home house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail...even I would have taken that bet," he said.
After decades of entertaining and moralizing to Americans, Cosby is now serving a prison sentence for raping a woman.
"Who is America's dad now?" Murphy said, impersonating The Cosby Show character Cliff Huxtable.
His joke in Saturday's monologue called back to Cosby's well-known disapproval of his work.
In his 1987 stand-up special Eddie Murphy Raw, Murphy described a phone call he and Cosby had after Cosby's son went to see Murphy perform and reported back to his father that the show was laden with profanity.
According to Murphy's retelling of the story, Cosby called Murphy up — having never met him — to chastise Murphy. In a heated exchange, he told Murphy that he "cannot say 'fuck,'" according to the stand-up routine. Below is a much funnier version of the encounter that includes Murphy's excellent impression of Cosby:
In a lengthy statement on Instagram, a spokesperson for Cosby called Murphy a "Hollywood slave." The statement also credited Cosby with breaking the barriers that allowed Murphy to have a career — and did not address Cosby's status as a convicted criminal or the other allegations of rape and assault made against him by dozens of women.
To mark the momentous return, Murphy was also joined by SNL alumni Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan along with comedy star Dave Chappelle. "You're looking at half of Netflix's budget up here," Chappelle joked.
Murphy made a short appearance on the show's 40th anniversary in 2015 but did not act in any sketches at that time. He in particular refused to play Cosby in a sketch.
But even if Murphy is now a "boring, stay-at-home dad," he still slipped in an accidental curse word in Saturday's SNL episode.