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Eddie Murphy takes aim at Bill Cosby in Mark Twain Prize acceptance speech

Eddie Murphy takes aim at Bill Cosby in Mark Twain Prize acceptance speech
Comedian Eddie Murphy impersonates Bill Cosby while accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (Meredith Blake)

The gloves are off.

Eddie Murphy accepted the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday at the Kennedy Center in Washington and took aim at 2009 winner Bill Cosby.

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In an apparent change of heart from February, when he declined to ridicule the embattled comedian on "SNL's" 40th anniversary special, Murphy impersonated the once-beloved star who is alleged to have drugged and sexually assaulted dozens of women over the course of more than 40 years.

"Bill has one of these," Murphy said, pointing to his trophy. "Did you all make Bill give his back?" Cause I know there was a big outcry from people, they was trying to get Bill to give his trophies back. You know you've [messed] up when they want you to give your trophies back."

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Murphy suggested Cosby do one show where he just "talk[s] crazy." Putting on his very best Cosby voice, he continued: "I would like to talk to some of the people who feel like I should give back some of my ... trophies."

According to an account shared over Twitter by former cast member Norm MacDonald, Murphy opted not to do his Cosby impression in a "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketch on "SNL 40," saying that he preferred not to kick a man when he was down. Instead, Murphy made a few boilerplate remarks of gratitude in what turned out to be an anticlimactic return to the show that made him a star 30 years ago.

While he seems to have changed his mind since February, Murphy's Cosby jokes were fairly tame, particularly when compared to material by Andy Samberg at the Emmys or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes.

Previous recipients -- other than Cosby, that is -- of the Mark Twain Prize include Tina Fey, Carol Burnett, George Carlin and Richard Pryor.

The entire ceremony, featuring tributes to Murphy from the likes of Trevor Noah and George Lopez, will be broadcast Nov. 23 on PBS.

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter.

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