Cos he can
Bill Cosby goes into comedic cruise control in Oroville
With the laid-back, charismatic personality and swear-free approach to comedy that has sustained him for almost 40 years, marquee entertainer Bill Cosby thoroughly delighted about 2,000 fans during two sold-out shows at the Gold Country Casino Showroom in Oroville Friday night.
Cos, casually dressed in dark khaki slacks and tasteful tropical shirt, shared his humorous views on such everyday topics as dentists, marriage and the Discovery Channel.
On Father’s Day gifts: “I’m a millionaire. I have four daughters, and I’ve been a millionaire all their lives. Then why would they get together and buy me a bottle of Aqua Velva?”
Cosby, a Philadelphia native, has come a long way since the early ‘60s, when his New York City stand-up act transitioned to acting and a 1965 race-barrier-breaking role on I Spy. He’s earned Grammy Awards for comedy albums, and his 1986 book, Fatherhood, was a long-running No. 1 best seller. His cartoon series, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, brought many of his childhood chums to life.
But Cosby moved into the upper echelon of entertainment superstardom collecting Emmy Awards as Heathcliff Huxtable, patriarch of the close-knit, upscale family on The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992.
While his stand-up material has always pointed out the humor in daily situations, the Cosby experience is truly identified by his delivery—full of facial expressions, hand gestures and body language that we’ve all come to know. The man performs effortlessly, seemingly on an unscripted sort of comedy cruise control, but produces profound punch line after punch line.
Early in the show, Cosby took a particularly non-show-biz posture, coming down from the stage and preaching the comedy gospel from the floor, his elbow resting on the stage and his head propped up comfortably on his hand.
In fact, the 63-year-old stand-up icon spent the bulk of the show in the crowd, circulating through the first few rows and discussing the social tendencies of marriage during one-on-one impromptu interviews with audience members. A video operator followed the humorist around, broadcasting the live audience encounters on the showroom’s two large screens.
Married life—more specifically, the predisposed roles that husbands and wives often assume—was a central theme. Cosby referred back to the Discovery Channel, describing his wife’s infatuation with it. “Mrs. Cosby likes to be in the bed and watch the insects,” he said, “and that’s frightening to me ‘cause I’m male. The insects have sex, then the female kills the male. And she puts her arms out and cries out, ‘Yes!'”
He said when he saw that series of beer commercials with young men greeting each other with loud greetings of “Whassup!” he knew they were all single. “If that guy was married,” Cosby said, “the wife would grab his tongue and say, ‘Keep that thing in your mouth.'”
Cosby’s good-natured ribs with the audience may have embarrassed a few people just a little, but the old master had a way of knowing how far he could go with each interview. Most ended with hugs and warm handshakes, even though he called one microphone-happy woman a “motor face” and told another woman who denied she’d been drinking, “Either you’ve been drinking or you have a bourbon mouthwash.”
Cosby asked a few couples to recall back to their husbands’ marriage proposals. A few women couldn’t remember precisely what their husbands said when they popped the question. “But they get mad for two or three days when we can’t remember what color eye shadow they had on,” Cosby joked.
The Cos soliloquy wasn’t entirely pro-husband. “The male winds up being the wife’s oldest child,” he said. And he particularly sympathized with women who, after reaching menopause, enter their golden years not having to worry about pregnancy. “Hey, it’s freewheeling time, the man and woman can play anytime,” Cosby said. “But now, the man is overweight, has high blood pressure and cholesterol. And the side-effect…” He held out his arm and dropped his wrist, signifying a man going limp. That gesture brought one of the biggest laughs of the evening.
Cosby returned to the stage for his final bit, setting up his role as a powerless, Novocain-impaired man in the dentist chair. "Your face is falling off your skull, your bottom lip is in your lap, and the dentist wants to talk," he said, shaking his head. That skit, with Cosby’s voice perfectly portraying the sloppy speech of the poor guy in the chair, brought the house down.