Bill Cosby made a surprise performance at LaRose Jazz Club in Philly Monday night, and it was his first stand-up gig since 2015 when his career drew to a rocky halt because of sexual assault allegations.
The show came ahead of an April retrial where Cosby faces three counts of aggravated indecent assault for allegedly drugging and molesting Temple University administrator Andrea Constand in 2004.
It was originally scheduled for Nov. 6 after a June trial resulted in a hung jury (read: they couldn’t agree on a verdict). In August, however, a Montgomery County judge agreed to delay the retrial until this spring.
BREAKING: Bill Cosby tells stories at Philadelphia club in 1st public performance since 2015 as retrial in sex assault case looms.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 23, 2018
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Cosby has been facing sexual assault accusations from women since the 1960’s. The Washington Post reports that as of 2016, accusers totaled at 58. He has denied these claims, implying to CNN that he believes some of it has to do with racism.
In a 2015 interview with ABC — after he gave an interesting ramble of a response when asked about the dozens of women who came forward that year — he said he wanted to get back to the entertainment industry.
The former Dr. Huxtable of "The Cosby Show" didn’t address any of the allegations or the retrial during his set Monday night. Reports say that he joked about his blindness and told childhood anecdotes.
Bill Cosby jokes about his blindness at Germantown’s La Rosa Jazz Club pic.twitter.com/XnkKgg15kQ— Jeremy Roebuck (@jeremyrroebuck) January 23, 2018
Cosby also played the drums with the Tony Williams Jazz Quartet.
Bill Cosby plays the drums pic.twitter.com/VDwTvCtxfY— Jeremy Roebuck (@jeremyrroebuck) January 23, 2018
One NPR journalist claims he asked Cosby if he’s prepared for the trial in April, to which the actor/comedian "said nothing stonefaced."
I asked Cosby if he’s prepared for his second trial, and he looked me in the eyes and said nothing stonefaced. I then asked how he thinks #MeToo might affect jurors, and he shrugged in an animated way, put on a goofy smile and said, “I don’t know!”— Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) January 23, 2018
When Cosby announced on Facebook that he would be doing stand-up just a few hours before the event, the comments featured support from fans.
"I think this is great," one woman wrote. "Don’t let people take your joy, keep on living."
Another wrote, "Will this be filmed and played on Netflix? I hope so. Would love to see the great Bill Cosby again. The funniest man ever!"
Others commented saying they wished they lived closer so they could attend.
One man pointed out the support Cosby seemed to receive: "Bill, if you didn't harm anyone, it is beautiful that so many people have stayed loyal to you through the storm," adding, "If you did hurt anyone, you are hurting all of these people who are still your fans by lying to them."
The response on Twitter appeared to be skewed in the opposite direction (though it's fair to argue that most of the people who viewed the Facebook announcement were fans, since they had to have liked his page to get notifications from it in the first place).
One Twitter user said she’d pass on the performance, asking, "Did he 'stand up' and admit guilt?"
Did he "stand up" and admit guilt? Pass.— Kerrie Keller (@Kerrie_girl) January 23, 2018
Another told Cosby to let go of his dreams of making a comeback, calling him a "dirty old man."
Bill Cosby tryin to worm his way back in by doing an open mic. Let it go you dirty old man. Let it go.— Brad Grochowski (@bradisarobot) January 23, 2018
FOX tweeted that one woman showed up to the jazz club to protest.
"If you gave me front row seats to see Bill Cosby I’d burn them," author Terry McMillan said.
If you gave me front row seats to see Bill Cosby I'd burn them. #BillCosby— Terry McMillan (@MsTerryMcMillan) January 23, 2018
Another user took a shot at him:
I just watched a video of Bill Cosby's first stand up set since he was accused of rape by over 50 women. My favorite line from the first minute: "I'm a grownup. I understand 'STOP'"— Logan (@_Logan_________) January 23, 2018
Oh? Do you now?
Others tweeted quotes from Cosby (either to support him or to make a point — we're not sure which). One read, "People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on."
“People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.”— suhana. (@aliasuhana__) January 23, 2018
– Bill Cosby
Another read, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody" Bill Cosby— Martin Haworth PCC (@mphcoach) January 23, 2018
Vulture reported that during the show, Cosby brought the bassist’s 11-year-old son on stage and asked if he knew who he was.
The boy responded, "You used to be a comedian."