Reuters

(Reuters) - U.S. comedian Bill Cosby performed his first stand-up gig since being swept up in sex scandals, joking in Philadelphia on Monday about his blindness and fueling criticism on social media, according to video posted online.

 

The 80-year-old entertainer's appearance at the LaRose Jazz Club marked his first show since 2015 and came ahead of an April retrial for an alleged 2004 sexual assault in suburban Philadelphia.

 

Cosby, who starred in the 1980s TV series "The Cosby Show," has seen his family-friendly reputation destroyed by dozens of sexual assault allegations. He has denied assaulting anyone, saying any encounters with his accusers were consensual.

 

Online video footage showed Cosby wearing a sweatshirt and seated on a stool in the club. Describing people's reactions when he walks into things he cannot see, Cosby said: "There's a perfectly good word called 'stop,' not 'oh-oh-oh-oh-oh'," drawing laughs from the crowd.

 

Cosby's show was widely criticized on Twitter, with novelist Terry McMillan saying: "If you gave me front row seats to see Bill Cosby I'd burn them."

 

Jeff Romaine tweeted: "NO ONE should ever go see him publicly without bringing a sack full of rotten fruit to throw. I would just feel bad for the fruit."

Cosby is scheduled go to trial on April 2 on charges that he drugged and assaulted Andrea Constand at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Cheltenham. His first trial ended in a mistrial in June.

Pennsylvania prosecutors asked the judge in the case last week to allow the testimony of 19 other accusers, including 12 women who were not allowed to testify in the entertainer's first trial.

 

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Paul Tait)