Last night I got to see something I have been trying to see for a few years now. I got to see Bill Cosby perform live. Not only was it one of the best comedy shows I’ve ever been to, it was easily one of the most eye-opening comedy performances I’ve ever experienced.
Bill Cosby coming to New York City is a big deal. For some reason he rarely, if ever, performs in the city. According to the theaters website, it had been years since he last performed in New York City. Last night he (technically) broke that streak by performing at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College in Flushing, Queens. This was a monumental event, because I think Cosby officially dethroned the current King (or Queen) of Flushing Comedy.
To get to the show, I had to travel quite a ways. Flushing is barely part of New York City. In fact, I think it’s barely part of the United States. I got on the 7 train and rode all the way to the last stop. Then I got on a bus and rode 14 stops to Queens College, in a part of Flushing where it’s hard to tell where NYC ends and Long Island begins. Was it worth the trip? You bet it was!
I went to the show with my girlfriend and my roommate, both of whom you might sort of know from my web series, The Worst Landlord. We found our seats way in the back of the auditorium and waited. The president of the college came out to introduce the evening’s entertainment. ”Is Bill Cosby back there?” he shouted to someone behind the curtain. ”Yes!” was shouted back. I don’t know what it was, but the way Bill Cosby shouted the word “yes” was immediately hilarious.
The president of Queens College then gave Cosby a sweatshirt with the school’s name and logo on it. ”Is this your place?” asked Cosby. ”Yeah, this is my place,” replied the president of Queens College. If he was trying not to smile he failed, and so did all of us in the audience. I don’t know how he did it, but Cosby managed to be funny before the performance even began.
Finally, the show started. Bill Cosby took his seat on stage. He had an elegant, leather chair with a black side table next to it. The side table had a box of tissues and a bottle of water. Everything sat on top of a nice oriental rug. It was like he had invited us into his living room.
I think that best describes Cosby’s style. He just talks to you like you’re a couple of old friends catching up in his living room. He took us through his childhood in the projects of Philadelphia, he took us through his teenage years spent in the navy and chasing girls, and he took us through his life as it is now as a 75 year old man.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best comedy shows I’ve ever been to! I expected him to be good, he’s Cosby after all, but I had no idea that he still had “it”. Any time Cosby makes a late night appearance, a lot of people say that people only laugh at him because he’s Cosby. Like he’s only coasting on his celebrity status. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Cosby excretes funny out of his pores. I don’t think he can help it, he’s just become a naturally hilarious person. Few can do this. Bill Cosby and Steve Martin are two of the only entertainers that come to mind who can just be funny. The room was full of senior citizens, little kids, and everything in between, and yet he made everyone laugh. His timing was impeccable! His ability to control a room is something to be marveled at and studied by psychologists. I don’t think there’s ever been a politician with the kind of public speaking ability that Bill Cosby has developed.
George Carlin passed away at age 71, after releasing comedy special after comedy special every single year. Bill Cosby is currently 75, and after seeing him last night I wouldn’t be surprised if he lived to be 175. He doesn’t have the catalog of George Carlin, but he does have the stage presence and mastery of the craft of comedy that can only be seen by a comedian who’s done it for so long.
I’ve heard the majority of Cosby’s albums and specials, and most of his set last night was made up of material I had never heard before. Occasionally he would do an older joke, but with new parts added to it. I think it’s incredible and inspiring that he never stopped working on his craft. He brought back a piece of material that he wrote when he was 49 (which I only know because the special was called 49) and he had added jokes to it over the course of the last 25 years. I know comedians who have been at it for 5 years and haven’t written anything new in 4.
Watching Bill Cosby taught me that I should never, ever stop working. I should never, ever feel like my work is done. I have jokes that I am very proud of and love telling, but I know that if I don’t do something to keep them fresh I will inevitably get tired of them. Cosby is far from being tired with performing, and I think it’s because he’s never gotten tired of writing. He’s never gotten tired of observing the world around him and developing his comedy.
Unlike George Carlin, Bill Cosby unfortunately doesn’t release a new special every year. I think this is because he doesn’t care about releasing the specials or the albums. I think he just loves performing. If you’re a comedian or just a comedy fan, you have to see Cosby while he’s still with us. You won’t regret it!
At the end of the show, the lights came on in the theater. I took out my cell phone and looked at the time. It was 9:45pm. The show had started at 8. Bill Cosby made an hour and 45 minutes feel like a minute and 45 seconds.
In conclusion, Bill Cosby is the funniest man alive.