Irene and I went to see Bill Cosby on Friday night at the Red Robinson Theatre. I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Cosby’s stand up comedy, but I have never actually seen him “live” before. Despite the fact that Bill is over 70 now I can assure you that he still has “it”.
A few things I like about Bill Cosby were born out by his live show. He’s a “clean” comic, by which I mean he doesn’t resort to using an endless stream of profanities or toilet humour. I don’t mind risque content, but it seems to me that a lot of comedians have focused more on “shock” than comedy. I prefer Bill’s approach, and find it refreshing. Mr. Cosby is also very relaxed in his approach, which some folks may find less enjoyable. It is like you are chatting with a friend who is just naturally funny- meandering stories with comical “bites” now and then, rather than a staccato burst of rapid fire sequential set ups. There were times that I wondered if he had forgotten where he was going with his story, then all of a sudden the punch line came. Maybe he is forgetting his script, but if so his 50 years of being a comic means he can make something up that is still funny.
A couple of telling things about Bill Cosby’s style: the fact that he had a comfy chair and a side table on the stage…and that he picked both up and moved them closer to the audience right at the outset. I don’t think that was part of his show, either: after everything was over, Irene and I watched while the crowd thinned and the stage crew came out and relocated the whole set closer to the audience.
Bill, I think, likes that “I’m just that funny friend who you are visiting to have a BS session with” effect. Bill’s style is, to me at least, sort of the polar opposite of the frantic, almost spastic humour style of someone like Robin Williams (who is another comic I’d like to see live). Some of that may be the fact that Bill is getting on in years, but the result is a style I find very enjoyable and warm.
The show was, unfortunately, shorter than I would have liked: an hour wasn’t quite enough for me. But on the other hand, I imagine it is a long time for the comedian. And I don’t feel cheated at all- I just was having fun with Bill’s stories, and wanted more. Bill ended with a classic most Cosby fans would recognize: his “dentist” skit, complete with the acted-out results of dental freezing injection. Irene had never heard that skit… here it is from 1983: