Comedian Norm McDonald took to Twitter with regard to SNL40’s big celebration in which the highlight and marquee of the show was supposed to have been “The Return of Eddie Murphy” which, in the less than three minutes that Eddie took to the stage to grace it with his presence; it seemed more like “The Runaway of Eddie Murphy” (rather than the return).
He clapped (for the audience-clapping for him while zipping in on to the stage) and right after his less than 3 minute speech; he clapped for the audience (again) while zipping out and off the stage.
Later reports surfaced that Eddie Murphy was actually approached to impersonate Bill Cosby [who of course, at this moment in time is being accused by several women of rape while being drugged]. The night before SNL40, Murphy turned down the offer to participate in the segment for not wanting to drag the man while he was down, already. That, in and of itself was a very considerate move of Eddie’s as, it was no secret that Cosby wasn’t very happy with comedians like Eddie who used profanity in their shows and Cosby was always pretty vocal about it.
Although the skit went on (with less an after-the segment-impact as would have if Eddie had done it) the role was taken over by comedian Kenan Thompson which also featured Will Ferrell (as Alex Trebek), Norm Macdonald (as Burt Reynolds), Darrell Hammond (as Sean Connery) and Kate McKinnon (Justin Bieber).
In the 80s Eddie Murphy was credited for having breathed life back into SNL at a time when the ratings was on a downward spiral. All was well until that fateful day (one day in the 90s) comedian David Spade made a joke that Eddie didn’t think was too funny during his ‘Weekend Update” comedic segment. He quipped: “Look children, a falling star,” as Murphy’s image was displayed in the background.”
That joke (whatever it meant) ruined it for Eddie’s return to the 1999 25th SNL anniversary and turned down offers to do hosting gigs for SNL thereafter.
All that being said and done, SNL40 was monumental for Saturday Night Live, and although Murphy didn’t participate in any skits on the show (as his fans had hoped), the fact that he even showed up was at greatly anticipated, long overdue, wanted and welcomed nonetheless.
(And for refusing to take the offer to impersonate him that night, Bill Cosby thanked him all the more).