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Joe Piscopo: 'Ebony and Ivory’ sketch with Eddie Murphy would be taboo now, due to 'cancel culture'

The material 'we did in the comedy clubs in the late 1970s, if we did it now we would be arrested,' the 'Saturday Night Live' alum told Just the News.

Updated: July 29, 2020 - 2:55pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Comedian Joe Piscopo, a former Saturday Night Live cast member, told Just the News that his famous sketch, "Ebony and Ivory," where he plays Frank Sinatra and Eddie Murphy plays Stevie Wonder, couldn't be performed today due to "cancel culture."

Piscopo, an SNL cast member from 1980-84, sang a duet with Murphy in the "Ebony and Ivory" sketch, which contains lines such as, "You are black, and I am white. Life's an Eskimo Pie, let’s take a bite. That was groovy thinkin' Lincoln, when you set them free."

Just the News asked Piscopo, now a radio talk show host, if that sketch could be performed in today’s environment.

"You really couldn't," he said during an interview at the Falkirk Center’s Freedom Summit in Washington. "There were some words that we used that really are not offensive, but by today's standards, with the cancel culture it would be done. You know, the grace of working with Eddie Murphy, though, and the privilege of working with a great comic genius like that, he could say and do anything and get away with it.

“Like even when he was on Saturday Night Live recently, he did some things — 'Wow, man, he got away with it.' And as a comic, as a dinosaur from the old days, you love to see it. We're too sensitive now. You should be able to do Ebony and Ivory. You should be able to just loosen up a little bit.”

Cancel culture generally refers to boycotts or professional reprisals over something a public figure said that was deemed offensive by a certain group. Piscopo said that cancel culture is being used for political purposes.

"We're way, way, way too sensitive, but they're using it," Piscopo said. "It's going beyond the sensitivity of what could be offensive to someone. They're now using it for political purposes, their politicizing everything we say, it's all politics. It has nothing to do with what's right and what's wrong, and what's offensive and what's not. I had this conversation with my kids. You know, if you're in school and you say something or text something marginally bad in school you are vilified."

Piscopo recalled an incident in his community involving a student who said something the school deemed offensive.

"A poor girl took her own life because she said the wrong thing that was politically incorrect," he recounted. "So the school said, 'Oh my God, you can't say that.' She was so embarrassed. She took her own life, they're driving us right to the brink."

Piscopo also mentioned a conversation he had with comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried recently about their comedy material from the late '70s.

"We had a chat, what we did in the comedy clubs in the late 1970s, if we did it now, we would be arrested," he recalled. "Thank God, thank God, there weren't cell phones around. But you know what, Richard Pryor did it, man, Eddie did it, you know, everybody, it's come just too far."

"The cancel culture is just out of control," Piscopo added. "It's just to shut us down.”

During the interview, Piscopo questioned the objective of those who are looting and burning buildings in major cities during protests over police brutality.

"When you're rioting and you're in Portland or Richmond now, and you're burning down buildings, and you're burning down people's homes and businesses, if someone could explain to me how that helped, you know, when we did the revolution, in 1776, there was a purpose," Piscopo said.

"We had a government we wanted to put in, we had initiatives and purpose and the Declaration of Independence," he added. "What are these people that hate us that think, you know, we're too offensive? What do they have? What are they trying to build? And I say that objectively, I'm just another confused American, you know, trying to make sense of it all."

Full interview: