"I'm not that funny." — Chris Rock
"I'm definitely not that funny." — Jerry Seinfeld
"No, not compared to Bill Cosby." — Chris Rock
(At the Mark Twain Prize Award for Bill Cosby)
Bill Cosby amazes me. At 72, the man has still got to be one of the best comedians out there. On Saturday night, he convinced me of this at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia.
Walking out in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, Cosby sat down and talked for about an hour and 40 minutes. It seemed like he would have gone on longer, but explained he was told to wrap it up so we would get out of the way for the next show attendees.
The film Comedian with Jerry Seinfeld gives you an inside look at what it takes to be funny. What looks so easy is not easy, even remotely. So, yeah I admit, I thought maybe Cosby would have lost a step at 72. Who knows? I mean it would be understandable for sure.
He hasn’t. The man made blowing his nose hilarious.
Early in the show, Cosby grabbed a tissue from the little table next to him, where he sat. He blew his nose and then put the used tissue on the table and continued on with his routine. About five or 10 minutes later, he stopped, seemingly in mid-thought. He tells the audience, "I sense a negative vibe here tonight." I thought, "Oh no, what have we done? The Norfolk crowd has ticked off The Coz!"
He then explained, "It is coming not from the men, but from the women in the audience." He then pointed to the tissue on the table, and that was all that was needed. The crowd erupted. My wife explained, "Yes, I couldn’t stop looking at that tissue!" He then told a story of how his wife was in a crowd one time and told a stagehand to go up and inform Bill, during his show, to please put his tissue in a trash can. I am of course not doing the story justice, but how he can make such a simple thing so hilarious I think can accurately be described as genius.
I have memorized most of the “classic” Cosby routines. What I was missing from having only heard them is how physical a comedian Cosby is. And he only stood up twice during the whole show. From his great facial expressions, to playing all the characters in his stories — he embodies them all.
He explained how he lost a race at age 70 against an old college track rival. He knew he could finally win this time, because after all, his old rival was recovering from a stroke. He still lost. And Cosby running around the stage as a stroke victim who still is in better physical shape than Bill is an image I might never forget.
When he was told it was time to wrap it up, Cosby went into his classic "Dentist" routine. It felt like Pink Floyd playing the opening notes of "Wish You Were Here," as all he had to say was, "Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp, metal object…" and the crowd cheered wildly. Even though I have heard that routine many, many times, seeing him perform it in person was a treat.
Bill Cosby is still a very funny fellow.