Much to the chagrin of many, Bill Cosby has returned to his comedy roots as he prepares for his next trial. The disgraced TV icon took the stage for the first time since 2015 this past Monday night, performing an improv comedy and jazz show at a club in Philadelphia. Cosby has mostly stayed out of the spotlight after a tsunami of sexual misconducts allegations came out against him in the past couple of years.
Cosby told jokes from the stage of the LaRose Jazz Club in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood. He performed to a mostly African-American crowd of about 50 people, most of whom were respectful while the comedian was on stage. The former Cosby Show star did a few scat jazz numbers while also telling stories from his past. He sat on a wooden bar stool with headphones on, perhaps so he couldn't hear hecklers and try to shut himself off somewhat from any negativity. He also played drums, and did a comedy routine about being blind.
One of his new stories involved his drunk Uncle William, and he recounted the time his younger brother was born in public housing. About suffering from blindness, he had this to say.
"You laugh when blind people walk into things. And guess what? Blind people laugh when sighted people fall down. Ha ha ha ha."
The media was invited to watch the comedian perform, and the show was open to the public. News of Cosby's appearance was made known two hours before he hit the stage, so there was plenty of time for Philadelphia news coverage too arrive on scene and set up. During the set, Cosby asked an 11 year old drummer if the kid knew who he was. The boy answered, 'A comedian." Cosby countered that with, 'I used to be a comedian."
Bill Cosby's sexual misconduct accusations stretch back decades. And after more than 60 women came out against him, he canceled all of his live shows, and his shows were pulled out of syndication. He has even been stripped of his honorary degrees at various universities. A two-week long criminal trial ended in a hung jury. But now a second trial looms this April with the same charge. He is facing 'three counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from the claim that in 2004, he drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia mansion."
Bill Cosby didn't mention the trial during his stand-up routine. Said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, about the experience.
"He's reintroducing himself as that old comedian, that funny guy. He is that hometown person who we all knew and loved, and that's how he wants to be thought of now. What with the #MeToo movement very strong out there, he needs all the help he can get in terms of public sympathy from any person who might sit on the jury."
Before his first trial, Bill Cosby was keeping a low profile. Now, he is going out on the town, having dinner in public. And he is bringing the media along with him. Some believe he is just trying to remind people of the old Bill Cosby and 'win the hearts and minds of jurors.'
Views on Cosby's recent public outings are being met with mixed feelings. The comedian was escorted away from the club by his publicists. On the way out, he stopped to chat with journalists. NPR didn't take the soft approach. They directly asked if he was ready for his second trail, and the Cosby just stared quietly at the reporter. Asked if the #MeToo movement might sway the jury, Cosby shrugged saying he didn't know. He then left the building. It sounds like the comedian will be making more appearances as he gears up for trial.