The humor prize honors those who influence society in the tradition of Samuel Clemens, the writer and satirist known as Mark Twain. Past honorees include Jay Leno, Carol Burnett, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby.
As Murphy gave his acceptance speech, he did a Bill Cosby impression. It was part of a mini stand-up set that Murphy performed, telling the audience
Bill has one of these. Did you all make him give it back?
He proceeded in Cosby’s voice:
You may have heard recently that I allegedly put the pill in the people’s stomach … If I ever see or meet this Hannibal Buress in person I am going to try and kill this man!
Murphy gained national attention when he joined the SNL cast in 1980 at the age of 19. He went on to become the most commercially successful African-American actor in film history and one of the industry’s Top 5 box office performers overall, the Kennedy Center said. Murphy’s films have been among Hollywood’s highest-grossing comedies, including “48 Hours,” ”Trading Places,” ”Dr. Dolittle” and “Coming to America.”
The tribute will be broadcast Nov. 23 on PBS. [Associated Press, Vulture]