Bill Cosby's representative has condemned Eddie Murphy's "Saturday Night Live" jabs at the incarcerated comedy icon.
In his opening monologue Saturday the Roosevelt-raised Murphy, 58, noted he has 10 children and said, "My kids are actually pretty much my whole life now. … But if you had told me 30 years ago that I would be this boring, stay-at-home, y'know, house dad and Bill Cosby would be in jail, even I would have took that bet!"
Shifting to an exaggerated impression of him, Murphy asked archly, "Who is America's Dad now?" as the studio audience applauded and cheered, and the late-night comedy show's musicians behind him onstage clapped. Cosby's character Cliff Huxtable, the stern but wise and warmly funny father on the 1984-1992 NBC hit "The Cosby Show," was often referred to as "America's Dad." Cosby was convicted last year of sexual assault and sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison.
Andrew Wyatt, the spokesman for Cosby and his family, responded Sunday with a statement. After a reminder of the 82-year-old Cosby's historical importance as the first African American star of a weekly drama series — starring with Robert Culp in "I Spy" and winning three consecutive Emmy Awards from 1966 to 1968 — the statement went on to say, "It is sad that Mr. Murphy would take this glorious moment of returning to 'SNL' and make disparaging remarks against Mr. Cosby. One would think that Mr. Murphy was given his freedom to leave the plantation, so that he could make his own decisions; but he decided to sell himself back to being a Hollywood Slave."
Wyatt compared Murphy to Stepin Fetchit, actor Lincoln Perry's popular 1930s film character who embodied racial stereotypes, making Perry a millionaire and the first African American movie star. Using a derisive term for such acting, the statement said this "equals the destruction of Black Men in Hollywood."
He added, "Remember, Mr. Murphy, that Bill Cosby became legendary because he used comedy to humanize all races, religions and genders; but your attacking Mr. Cosby helps you embark on just becoming click bait. Hopefully, you will be amenable to having a meeting of the minds conversation, in order to discuss how we can use our collective platforms to enhance Black people rather than bringing all of us down together."
Murphy, whose monologue had been viewed 5.2 million times on YouTube as of Monday evening, has not responded publicly nor has his representative commented.