Bill Cosby: I Am Who I Am
What you see is what you get.
When comedian Bill Cosby performs two sold-out shows June 30 in Boone, as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival, audience members will see the award-winning comic, actor, author and educator for who he is – Bill Cosby.
“I’ve been accused of that,” Cosby said during a phone interview Monday, recalling a performance a few decades back.
He was sharing a bill with jazz legend Eubie Blake, who approached Cosby after seeing his routine.
“He looked at me and really accosted me – in a humorous way – and he pointed this long index finger at me and said, ‘You don’t have an act.’ In capital letters,” Cosby said.
Blake thought that one’s backstage persona was inherently different than that on stage. With Cosby, though, that wasn’t – and isn’t – the case.
“He would go around telling people, ‘This is the same guy that goes on the stage. He doesn’t have an act,’” Cosby said. “So… what can people look for? They’ll see me come out, and my act is ‘I am who I am.’”
Part of that’s a man who’s doing his job, he said, and the other part’s a man seeking smiles and laughter. “Smiling and laughter are healthy,” Cosby said.
And he would know, as a comic who’s instigated both for nigh on 50 years, all without resorting to foul language. “I can talk and have a ball,” he said.
Cosby’s well known for his landmark sitcom, “The Cosby Show,” which ran from 1984 to 1992, raking in beaucoups of awards along the away. Some know him as the voice of “Fat Albert,” while others associate him with Jell-O and its ever-popular pudding pop.
More so, audiences see him as a clever observer, gathering all-too-human experiences and relating them in an accessible – and outright hilarious – way.
“As far as I know, I’ve never had an inventive bone in my body,” he said. “One of the most stressful times I ever had about writing, about thinking, about performing, was when I realized that I could no longer watch them – not the audience, but they would be the audience. I could go out as an unknown and watch them. I could go sit in the bar and watch them, and they would not know that I’m this comedian, who may see something and write about them. So, in terms of inventiveness, I am a person who writes the experience.”
Today’s experience naturally includes social media, but does Bill Cosby have a Facebook account?
“Of course, you silly person,” he said. “I have to have everything… I have to find these people to let them know I’m coming.”
After his Boone performances were announced, Cosby whipped up a YouTube video specifically for Boone and Appalachian State University. “I think that this is wonderful, this social networking,” he said.
But Cosby sees the value in more traditional media, like newspapers, and not only for filling seats at his performances.
“I still think there’s a zone for the human being, that one holds the newspaper in a special place – and I don’t mean sitting on the john,” he said. “However, it’s dangerous to do social networking while drinking coffee, water or something like that, because that’s the end of your machine, anything spilled. A newspaper – hey, man, you lose a dollar and a quarter. With your computer, everybody’s gone – relatives, best friends, exciting things, porno. Coffee went in there and got it. Coffee the virus. Green tea the virus. They’re all gone – they’ve all shut down the great social communicator.
“But not the newspaper. You spill coffee on your newspaper, you get it away from your body, you can still read it. Green tea won’t kill the ink. Put it in an oven and dry it out, and we’re reading again.”
Has this happened before?
“All the time,” he said.
Bill Cosby performs at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at Farthing Auditorium on the Appalachian State University campus. As of press time, tickets were sold out. For more information, visit http://www.appsummer.org and http://www.billcosby.com.