At age 76, most of us would be sitting home yelling at kids to stay out of our yards as we tried to figure out how to work our smart phones. Not Bill Cosby. He’s on stage at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles working his magic, the same magic he’s been working for a good five decades. He’s here to do his first televised live concert in three years, Far From Finished, for Comedy Central, and the title is apt. Bill Cosby in his 70s has become an institution, and justly so.
The nature of his material hasn’t changed all that much over the years—the jokes are different, but his subjects are the Cosby staples: family, marriage, children. And if the reaction of the Los Angeles audience is any indication, like fine brandy, Bill Cosby has gotten better with age. He has them eating out of his hand, responding en masse with the punch lines he feeds them, cutely leading them down the garden path. He may be doing his standup sitting down, but he’s getting the job done with plenty of energy. Whether he’s talking the difference between wives and friends, or what it really means when you tell a woman you want to spend the rest of your life with her, this is vintage Cosby. Moreover, he still works clean, and in this day and age that’s something that sets him apart.
The 90-minute concert, with over 40 minutes of bonus material, is now available on a two-CD set from Comedy Central Records, as well as on DVD and Blu-ray. Although I have only seen clips from the performance, I would be remiss not recommending either of the latter two over the CDs. Hearing Bill Cosby is fine, seeing Bill Cosby is something special. You listen to the CD and at times you hear nothing but the audience laughing, and you just have to know you’re missing something. Nothing is more annoying than hearing a hysterical audience and not knowing why.
Still, if the CD’s are the only option, there are plenty of laughs, and some Cosby is better than no Cosby.