NEW YORK — A lingering letdown for fans after Eddie Murphy’s half-hearted display on the recent “Saturday Night Live” bash has been rekindled by a report of what might have been: Murphy impersonating Bill Cosby.

In a series of tweets, former “SNL” cast member Norm Macdonald described plans for Murphy to play the embattled Cosby in the “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch seen on Sunday’s “SNL 40th Anniversary Special.”

A Video Daily Double question on Favorite Cocktails would have brought up a “video clip” of Murphy mimicking Cosby behind a bar.

Will Ferrell as host Alex Trebek would then cut it off in embarrassment, explaining the “clip” was taped last June — months before the ongoing scandal exploded amid allegations that Cosby served dozens of women drugged cocktails and then sexually assaulted them.

“Eddie Murphy doing a perfect Cosby impression,” tweets Macdonald outlining how the sketch would have gone. “The audience does not let him finish. The sketch ends. The show, for all intents, ends.”

The challenge, according to Macdonald, was persuading Murphy to take part.

“We talk in his dressing room a good hour. When it’s over, I’m convinced he’ll do it.”

“He doesn’t.”

“Eddie decides the laughs are not worth it. He will not kick a man when he is down.”

At least one person was grateful for Murphy’s refusal. In a statement, Cosby said, “I am very appreciative of Eddie and I applaud his actions.”

As viewers know, the sketch did go on, although, rather than Murphy, the role of Cosby was played by “SNL” cast member Kenan Thompson.

The presence of Murphy on the 3 1/2-hour special was billed as a highlight among the dozens of “SNL” alums and other celebs who were involved. It was his first return since 1984 to the show where he became the breakout star.

But his participation was limited to a few awkward words of thanks for the standing ovation he received in Studio 8H after a lavish intro by former “SNL” cast member Chris Rock. Many viewers were left disappointed and perplexed.

“We have no comment,” said Murphy spokesman Arnold Robinson when asked about Macdonald’s account of the show preparations. “Eddie was invited to attend the show and he attended.”

AP