Last night, Norm Macdonald had an incredible Twitter explosion, detailing what went into the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special’s new Celebrity Jeopardy sketch, including, as we all now know, that the plan had been for Eddie Murphy to appear as Bill Cosby.
One part of the story, long part of SNL lore, was the reason Murphy has never returned to the show.
So, what did David Spade say that bothered Murphy so much that he turned away from the show that made him a star?
Murphy actually discussed this with Rolling Stone in 2011:
Yeah, because they were sh*tty to me on Saturday Night Live a couple of times after I’d left the show. They said some sh*tty things. There was that David Spade sketch [when Spade showed a picture of Murphy around the time of Vampire in Brooklyn and said, “Look, children, a falling star”]. I made a stink about it, it became part of the folklore. What really irritated me about it at the time was that it was a career shot. It was like, “Hey, come on, man, it’s one thing for you guys to do a joke about some movie of mine, but my career? I’m one of you guys. How many people have come off this show whose careers really are f*cked up, and you guys are shitting on me?” And you know every joke has to go through all the producers, and ultimately, you know Lorne or whoever says, [Lorne Michaels voice] “OK, it’s OK to make this career crack…”
I felt sh*tty about that for years, but now, I don’t have none of that. I wouldn’t go to retrospectives, but I don’t let it linger. I saw David Spade four years ago. Chris Rock was like, “Do you guys still hate each other?” and I was like, “I don’t hate David Spade, I’m cool with him.”
Last month, however, he dialed back a bit on his previous statements and blamed timing.
“It’s just timing. It just never worked out where the timing was right for me to do it … They’re actually having a 40th anniversary I think in two weeks. I’m going to that, and that’ll be the first time I’ve been back since I left.”
There you have it. David Spade, timing, and an allegiance to Bill Cosby are on the list of things that have kept Eddie Murphy from returning to SNL greatness.