Last Night: Bill Cosby At Arena Theatre
Photos By Craig Hlavaty
Even at the age of 75, Dr. Bill Cosby is still able to spin a yarn. It seems to me that only the most gifted of comedians and musicians, the more base arts, can remain enthralling into their seventh decade.
It was just last week that the 70-year-old Paul McCartney played for nearly three hours at Minute Maid Park with nary a sip of water or a potty/oxygen break.
For an hour and a half and change last night a packed Arena Theatre, Dr. Cosby revisited stories from his boyhood, rarely skipping past the age of 16, save for a few good-natured digs at his wife Camille. In January they celebrate 49 years of life together.
He jibed the Houston crowd about the Houston Texans going into overtime on Sunday afternoon too.
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"You people act like you aren't used to winning by now!" he joked.
Cosby, looking comfy in black cargo pants and a long-sleeve tee, sat in the middle of the usually-revolving stage at the venue for most of the night. He's taller in person than you would imagine, his hands are bigger, almost imposing if I hadn't grown up with him in my family living room.
At his age Cosby seems to be looking farther back than ever. He made his bones chronicling fatherhood and marriagehood, but he now he's looking back at his project-upbringing in Philadelphia with fond glee.
The beatings from a hard-working four-foot-eleven mother, the friends that populated his world, his names like Pops and Skeeter, and of course, the girls, oh the girls. I'm glad he's telling us these tales now, because these early foibles inform a lot of his later work.
There are some who would say they want his current material to rail on young people or the art of being old as hell, but I would rather hear these genesis yarns.
His biggest and best gifts, the storytelling, the voices, the timing, are still impeccable. Seeing him live is akin to seeing a guitar god in flight for music geeks.
At the end of the night, when burly venue security guards were coming down the aisle from the dressing room to fetch him, Cosby kept talking, and the finally the big boys just sat down and watched with everyone else. The lights onstage dipped and brightened, and Cosby laughed them off. He's still in command. We were hearing about the meaning of the phrase "out-of-wedlock" and the implications of opening your damned mouth.
Yeah, he's a bit slower to the punch now, but it's Bill Cosby, and he hasn't mellowed. The wordplay is still a vital piece to his act. The cadences are monolithic.
And I still left with my gut aching from laughter.
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