Bill Cosby, undeniably the greatest storyteller stand-up comic ever, is now 69 years old, the grandfather of 4 three-year old grandchildren, and still under the thumb of wife Camille. I had the great privilege of catching Bill Cosby in performance during the Just For Laughs Montreal International Comedy Festival, something I had never had the opportunity to do, and it definitely was worth every penny of the 65 dollar ticket.
Bill Cosby still does all new material. For a giant whose stand-up comedy resume include Noah, For Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With, Chocolate Cake, and so on and so on, this is great and, at the same time, a tad wee bit of a bummer. I would dearly love to see Cosby do the Russell bit. Nevertheless, he did close the show with one of his classic routines, The Dentist, and added a couple of new twists to it.
Cosby has always been an autobiographical comic and after a few jokes with local references, including one about the reason he does not come up to Montreal as often as his fans would like him to is because there is always a protest in the streets and he gets lost. This year it was the Lebanese. He also complained, and rightly so, to the sound engineer four, four times before the sound was commensurate with his status (or any other comic's status).
He then launched into a reminiscence of his early days dating Camille, the talks he had to have with the priest before he and Camille could marry, and his early days as a stand-up comedian where his job was to break up the monotony of shows with folk singers. He then elegantly segued into what he had to say to the priest who gave him the talks and married him when he met him some thirty eight years later. One of my favorite lines was that wife and death are similar in that they are going to get you in the end.
Aging is another rich topic for Bill Cosby. His kick the bucket routine is a gem as is the bit about being in a room full of older men at a child's birthday party. Cosby no longer quite does stand-up as he spend a lot of time comfortably sitting in a chair, something he also has material about, but he did get on his hands and knees for a routine involving visiting the Sphinx.
This giant amongst giants of comedy still masters every single tool of his very rich comedy tool box. His ability to play with the audience's expectations and reading said audience is non pareil and there is not a single word or gesture wasted. Bill Cosby is a ticket any comedy fan must get at least once in his or her lifetime. Problem is, once you see him live, you will want to go again and again.
Salle Wilfrid Pelletier at Place des Arts was the only appropriate venue for such a comic. Even the seats in the rafters had a good view as someone had placed two giant screens behind Cosby so fans would not miss a single facial expression. Unfortunately, the sound engineer was asleep at the switch. Unfortunately, whoever runs Place des Arts treats people like cattle as we had to wait for the escalator to the rafters to be opened and we then had to wait for the doors to the rafters section to be opened supposedly because the lights were not turned on yet. One of my guests, who works in the theatre, said this might be due to some clause in Cosby's contract that says not to let the people in too early before the start time but I am not convinced.
Other Bill Cosby Reviews
Oh, Baby: another very good if different Cosby cd. 1991 on the Geffen label.
When I Was A Kid: When I Was A Kid, originally released on the Uni label in 1971 and now available on Geffen, is a collection of childhood stories from Bill Cosby' s stand-up days after he left the Warner Brothers label.
Bill Cosby Is A Funny Fellow, Right!: probably the Bill Cosby album or comedy cd everyone is most familiar contains his classic and memorable Noah bit comprised of Noah: Right! Noah: And The Neighbor, and Noah: Me And You, Lord.
The Very Best of Bill Cosby: definitely not the very best of Bill Cosby.
To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With: Title track worth the price of the CD
Wonderfulness: Contains Chicken Heart, Go Karts, Tonsils and other good stuff
It's True! It's True!: A high school student could have done a better job with an old cassette copy, a tin can, and a piece of string
200 MPH: another classic though lesser-known Bill Cosby comedy CD
I Started Out As A Child: Contains Street Football and Lone Ranger, the rest of minor interest
Revenge: Features three back-to-back absolute classics: Cool Covers, 9th Street Bridge, Buck Buck
The Bill Cosby Collection: contains some of his most offbeat and hard to find stand-up comedy bits.
Why Is There Air?: Bill Cosby comedy CD contains $75 Car, Shop, and other good stuff
Himself: Bill Cosby DVD with The Dentist, Brain Damage, Naturan Child Birth, Chocolate Cake For Breakfast and other good stuff.
Ghost Dad: almost decent family fare
Leonard Part 6: 1987 Golden Raspberry Award winner for worst picture
Cosby And The Kids: The best Bill Cosby stand-up comedy CD compilation.
The Cosby Show - Season 3: A classic situation comedy that was excellent in its early years.
Bill Cosby - Montreal, July 25th 2009: This comedy giant is still a giant.
Icon: Nothing new if you already have other Cosby CDs
Far From Finished CD Version: The Master is in fine form and old school.
Far From Finished - Blu-ray: Brilliant. The video version includes a forty-eight minute interview but not the two bonus tracks from the CD