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POWERS AUDITORIUM Cosby's appeal never grows old



Published: Sun, May 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The veteran comedian's style has not changed.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- With a bit more gray hair and a little less spring in his step, Bill Cosby took control of the stage at Powers Auditorium for two shows Saturday with a family style of comedy his fans have grown to expect.

A sold-out audience filled the auditorium, with family members ranging from infants to great-grandparents. All ages could laugh at the jokes from this one comedian -- something not always appropriate with many of today's sharp-tongued comedians.

From the opening curtain, the 64-year-old "Cos" told younger members of the audience they would find little joy in the show, not because the content would be too harsh, but because he is getting old and that is where the comedy would go.

As the show progressed, his meaning became clear as he pointed to elderly people such as himself as the inventors of words such as whatchamacallit to mask a fading memory. He went on to say that older individuals have what can be described as "lazy patience" -- the ability to wait for endless periods of time for a young person to happen by and fetch whatever object they desire.

Cosby, born to Anna and William H. Cosby Sr., has always talked extensively about his parents and maintained that they were an important influence in his life. Aspects of his relationship with his mother and theeffects of his success are spelled out in his biography.

Watching out for him

"For the rest of her life, she bowled, cheated at bridge with little old ladies, [and] made the best peach chiffon pie in the world -- only she used too many eggs. But do you know what that incredible woman did when she died? In her will, she left me $48,000 -- in case I ever needed something to fall back on."

Like most areas of his life, Cosby's parents found their way into his stage material. Early childhood memories, he said, place him either behind the television acting as an antenna or in front of it as his father's personal human remote control, changing stations. He also recalled what he said was his father's death-bed advice on marriage -- "Your mother steals."

Briefly, Cosby touched on his four daughters, Erika, Erinn, Ensa and Evin, calling them squatters because they are constantly in and out of the house. He also had a son, Ennis William, who was murdered in 1997. Cosby has explained that the E at the beginning of his children's names stands for excellence.

In true Cosby fashion, the mention of his own children took him directly to the young demographic for whom he earlier said he had no jokes. One 12-year-old member of the audience was invited on stage for a 15-minute Cosby lesson on sibling rivalry.

Thoughts on marriage

Cosby has been married to his wife, Camille, for more than 38 years, and therein lies the lion's share of his act. He says he is his wife's eldest child and said proof can be found in the way she checks his clothes before he leaves the house and follows him around to make sure he has properly locked up the house at night.

He also said that, regardless of what people say, no man's wife is actually his friend. He said men who have been married long enough learn that talking to their wives like one of their buddies is simply not a good idea.

Cosby was in town for one night and two shows only. He is traveling without his wife. Of course, if Mrs. Cosby were in town, there would have been no show, he said. The reason? He is too smart, he quipped, to make any of those assertions in her presence.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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