The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Sunday, Feb. 1, 1998


God and children spark Cosby's comedy routine

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

Bill Cosby had the sold-out audience of 1,700 at Westminster College, New Wilmington, laughing before he even said a word.
PHOTO Westminster College President Tom Williamson, center, and athletic director Joe Fusco, left, present Bill Cosby an honorary membership in the Towering Titans. Cosby stood on a chair as Williamson spoke, a reference to the president's superior height. (Gene Paulson/Herald)

Prior to the first of two shows Saturday in Orr Auditorium, college President R. Thomas Williamson and athletic director Joseph Fusco wanted to make Cosby an honorary member of the Towering Titans athletic organization. Cosby stood on his chair as Williamson spoke, a reference to the president's superior height. And when Fusco, who is shorter than Cosby, took the microphone the comedian sat down.

Cosby, dressed in khaki pants, a light sweater and a Westminster ball cap, then took a chair at center stage and talked about a subject near and dear to him _ education. Cosby, who has a doctorate in education, said he gets invited to speak at a lot of college commencements, but that's usually too late to give any meaningful advice. So he addressed the underclassmen and pre-college students when he compared entering college to opening a factory.

``You're putting out a product and you are that product,'' he said. ``A product is as good as the amount of energy you put into it.''

It's a theme he addressed later when he talked about his daughter, Erika's, poor grades in college and whining for a car and off-campus apartment.

Carmella Stewart of New Castle brought her two sons to see Cosby and was glad that Cosby talked about education. ``They've been messing with their grades,'' she said. ``I'm sure it made an impact on them.''

Cosby, who lives near Amherst, Mass., played literary critic in a long bit on the Book of Genesis of the Bible. ``I know this is a Presbyterian school,'' he said. ``I am not questioning the word of God. I'm questioning the writer.''

In Cosby's view, the writer of Genesis skimped on character development, especially in describing Adam.

``Adam is not clearly defined as a strong male and I am upset,'' Cosby said. ``The writer couldn't have done a more damaging job in presenting a stupid male.''

The Philadelphia native, reading from a King James Bible, noted that when Eve is talking to the serpent, Adam is apparently absent.

``What the hell is she doing talking to a snake?'' Cosby asked. ``Was he (Adam) that boring?''

And what else could Adam have been doing? he asked. ``There was no beer, so he wasn't drinking; no pizza parlors and certainly no boys to go out with.''

Cosby, 60, depicted God as the first parent _ a single parent, he noted _ who made one mistage: telling Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge.

``Everyone knows you don't tell your child, `Don't,''' he said.

Cosby also took the writer to task for sentence construction, frequently pointing out phrases where English professors would be writing in the margins. When the work ``thereof'' comes up he suggested readers intone ``uh huh,'' noting that it is the end of a thought, not preparing the reader for more.

Cosby's skills as a storyteller, improviser and physical comedian were sharp as he elicited regular laughter and occasional howls.

``He was super,'' said Helen Wallace of Hermitage. ``I've loved him for a long time.''

Ms. Wallace said Cosby's humor is ``real,'' meaning his humor is drawn from real life.''

Ms. Stewart added that while the jokes keep coming they hammer home a point that makes you think.

``It's reality,'' she said. ``What he speaks about is reality.''

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Updated Feb. 2, 1998
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