Funny man Bill Cosby knows a thing or two about family and fatherhood. Moms, dads and their children will crack up from the comedian’s timeless tales about marriage and raising children. Ten years after the senseless murder of his eldest son, Bill Cosby combines his hilarious appreciation for the ironies of life with the wisdom of his years in a memorable commencement address to the graduating class of Carnegie Mellon.
By Todd McFliker
Nobody expresses the trials and tribulations of marriage, family, and fatherhood funnier than Bill Cosby. Perhaps the most hysterical stand-up DVD on the market, 1982’s Bill Cosby: Himself, delivers the comedian’s views of marriage and fatherhood. Younger and thinner than the 73-year-old veteran we know today, Cosby performs in jacket and tie from a center stage chair at Ontario’s Hamilton Place Theatre. Insightful and witty, the comedian’s timeless material transcends age, gender and culture.
“It was because of my father that from the ages of seven to fifteen, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ and my brother, Russell, thought that his name was Dammit. ‘Dammit, will you stop all that noise?’ And, ‘Jesus Christ, sit down!’ One day, I’m out playing in the rain, and my father yelled, ‘Dammit will you get back in here!’ I said, Dad, I’m Jesus Christ.”
From the age of seven, the young Cosby always knew where he stood with his dad. “He looked at me and said, ‘You know, I brought you into this world, and I can take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you.’”
A positive message fathers learn from Cosby’s routine is the lasting impact of spoken words.
“You get just as angry with a child, but you don’t want to say, ‘What the filth and foul and I’ll filth and foul, filth and foul and, yeah, ya filth and foul face, and I’ll filth and foul, foul, filth!’ You don’t want to say that to a child, so you censor yourself and you sound like an idiot: What the… Get your… I’ll put a… Get out of my face!’”
Cosby also touches on marital issues with fun advice from how to talk to women in labor and cooking a nourishing breakfast to “poopy” diapers. Cosby says his better half was a beautiful woman before she had children, and claims she’s more interested in “quiet” than “justice.”
Bill and Camille Cosby met in the early 1960s while she was a student at the University of Maryland in College Park and he was performing stand-up in Washington, D.C. They married in 1964 and had five children. Their oldest son, Ennis William Cosby, was tragically murdered in 1997. Grief stricken over the loss of his son, Cosby nevertheless quickly returned to the stage and has become increasingly outspoken on issues related to marriage, fatherhood, and the personal responsibility everyone has for their families and neighborhoods. Ten years later, in the commencement address for Carnegie Mellon’s Class of 2007, Cosby’s remarks combined his uncanny ability to laugh at the ironies of life and the wisdom of his years.
The comic legend is currently touring, sharing hysterical tales of fatherhood with live audiences. Comedy lovers can now buy tickets to Cosby’s upcoming performances in Indiana, Ohio and California.
“You can now have me in the palm of your hand,” Cosby said in announcing the new app in a 75-minute live streaming webcast earlier this summer. “This is a new time, a new year and a new day. There are many things I have to say without going through the national networks. This way, I can convey my thoughts and performances directly for the purpose of making you laugh and feel good.”
Some of Cosby’s jokes and comical annotations may sound Greek to younger audiences, especially those who are unwed and have no children of their own. But just Cosby’s voice and facial expressions, entailing his trademark smirk, are enough to induce laughter. And there’s nothing R-rated in his monologues. It’s just good ol’ fashion observances and realizations of a father for families to enjoy at home together. They certainly don’t make ‘em like they used to.
Click here to watch many clips of Bill Cosby: Himself on YouTube. And watch for next week’s FatherhoodChannel.com Entertainment DVD, 1999’s heartwarming The Story of Us. Director Rob Reiner will make you laugh and cry, telling the story of Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer debating if their 15 year marriage is over.
A newlywed, Todd McFliker is an award-winning reporter, photographer, and the author of All You Need is Love to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. He earned his Masters in Communication from Lynn University.