At 76 and three-quarters years old, when many men his age are content to retire to Florida, Bill Cosby is out on the road and doing what he does best. Making people laugh.
“I like to play college campuses because you get this mixture of people,” Cosby said. “You get the student body … and the people who work in the area … and the parents and others who have my old CDs memorized. So when I play these (colleges) I am very, very familiar and I’m on fire and ready to have everybody laughing.”
The Doctor of Humor (he has an Ed.D. and 17 honorary degrees and counting) will be ready to have an audience in Bozeman laughing when he plays Montana State University’s Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in a performance set for 7 p.m. Sunday, April 13.
Cosby’s upcoming Bozeman performance is part of his Far From Finished Tour, which launched with a performance on Comedy Central last fall, his first TV concert in 30 years.
It’s been a busy year for the iconic comedian, fresh off an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show two weeks ago. In a hysterical segment that has been viewed a half-million times on YouTube, Fallon jumped on Cosby’s back while Cosby was pretending to walk across Niagra Falls on a tightrope.
“Jimmy is very, very special,” Cosby said. He said when the show suggested that Fallon might jump on his 76-year-old back during his appearance, Cosby’s reaction was “bring him.”
“And that was the moment everyone loved,” Cosby said. “The fun of it is it’s just two guys. It’s the fun of the two.
“And the thing about it is the next morning when I got up, I noticed that my back had no problem. I’m serious…I think the jump on my back had made an adjustment that even a chiropractor couldn’t have made. That was wonderful.”
That Cosby can still kill it on a new wave show like Fallon after 52-years of Tonight Show appearances with the likes of Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, David Letterman and Jay Leno, says something about the timelessness of his comedy. So does his 3.6 million Twitter followers at @Bill Cosby. Ever the master of the long form of comedic storytelling, Cosby said it is no problem to make an audience laugh in 140 characters.
“It’s all in the storytelling,” he said, recounting earlier days when he would receive fan mail, some many pages, which required a response. “So, now, (with Twitter) they are talking to me and it’s short. And sweet. And I get back to them. Short. And. Sweet.”
Now matter how long the routine, there are certain elements that are the hallmarks of Cosby humor. One of those is the complexity of the small moments in human relationship in which Cosby finds both humor and beauty.
Another favorite topic is education. Cosby said his original goal was to be a teacher of seventh or eighth grade boys, the very age that he found while growing up in humble circumstances in Philadelphia that he was losing interest in school. His recommends that teachers in inner-city schools, and perhaps areas such as Indian reservations, expect more from their students rather than less.
“There are teachers who go in and look at these kids and think they are doing themselves a favor by not demanding the best from their brains, but it is our job to get them to do their best work,” he said. He recommends that teachers keep returning work again and again until it is A work. “And (the students) will dislike us for that. Many of them will dislike us. But, I do know from my own eperience of finally getting a hard teacher, whom I hated (for a time), but when the time came to leave her… when that time came, I wanted to cry. That’s what education means to me.”
He said he is a huge proponent of the transformative power of higher education, which is the substance that launches or allows the furthering of a career.
“You can come in with your own dreams and thoughts and ideas, but then there is something university can give you, and it is credentials,” he said.
While he has common themes in his humor, he said no two shows are the same. He said he walks on the stage, sits down at his table, and then interacts with the audience to determine where he goes. But, there is one thing he guarantees.
“The people attending the show will get a performance,” he said. “They know about me. If you need a reason to buy a ticket it is this: You are going to go to something. And you are going to laugh. And we are going to have a ball.”
Tickets for the show are available at the Bobcat Ticket Office at the Fieldhouse, all Ticketswest outlets, by phone at 994-2287 or online at ticketswest.com. The Bobcat Ticket Office will open at 12 noon on Sunday, the day of the show.
Duane Morris (406) 994-1831, firstname.lastname@example.org