He’s considered one of America’s most influential stars. Bill Cosby, known for his special brand of comedy and a television career that includes his wildly popular “The Cosby Show,” is coming to Hartford’s Bushnell Saturday for two shows.
Well-known for his monologues on aspects of life including being a parent, Cosby’s impressive resume also includes appearances on the tv shows like “I Spy,” and his well-known characters including “Fat Albert.”
Fresh off his tv special on Comedy Central “Far From Finished” Cosby is on the road again and at the same time, finalizing plans for yet another tv sit com about family life. A Massachusetts resident who has talked to Java before, Cosby was witty and enthusiastic as he Spilled the Beans with Java.
Q: Tell me about the decision at the fine age of 76 to hit the tour trail again. Is it safe to assume you feel you are not “far from finished” yet? Do audiences still “get you?”
A: Actually I am 76 and a half! And I talk about timeless topics. Oddly, in spite of whether one is hip to today or yesterday, we are still human beings. I talk about timeless topics. We still have all of the emotions of sadness and happiness. And mixed in is a want to be liked and how we react to it, whether you are four years old or 96 years old. What I talk about has to do with emotions and situations that belong to all of us.
Q: Audiences seem to get lots of laughs and perhaps some introspect from your shows. What do you get from going up on stage?
A: As an artist, I have something that I enjoy and that is the writing the performing, giving to them the audience. Now what does that involve? There can be a strong identification that causes lots of smiles and laughter. The audience likes it and I do too.
Q: Tell me about the new show!
A: It will be about three generations living together. Mike O’Malley is the writer. One of the best parts so far is that my land line is ringing off the hook, I don’t walk around with my pocket vibrating, with calls from people I have worked with people I have worked with. And they’re saying ‘You are coming back, what about a job!” They are people who were great to work with on “The Cosby Show” and are coming out of the woodwork to be part of this project. I had one lady who was a line producer for us on “The Cosby Show” call from Australia and say “I am sick of growing wine grapes, I want to come back and work with you again.” The show is about three generations and the love and warmth and comedy that come out of that. I don’t want a show about nasty people who cause conflict and say nasty things. I want honesty and we can do these things because it is about a family and there is sharing a love and trying to outsmart each other and tricking each other but the wisdom of the elders will stand tall. And while they are standing tall they can also stand to be corrected. People still want to see a married couple that acts like they love each other, children who respect parents and the comedy of people who make mistakes.
Q: You just celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary. What did you and Camille do to celebrate?
A: I had a carpenter carve a piece of art that has our names all the names of our children and grandchildren, a shepherd’s staff because that is what she is, the person in charge of our family, our shepherd. We also had a family dinner but then we also had something else special. See when we decided to get married, I had to take a bus from Greenwich Village to Maryland for some kind of meetings because I was Protestant and she was Catholic. So for our anniversary I put my kids and grandchildren on a bus in New York City and had them reenact their father’s and grandfather’s trip to Maryland. My wife knew nothing about this. I flew her down there and had someone ready to help her get dressed and then she was driven to the church and she still didn’t know what was going on. We had the kids and grandkids form a gauntlet for her to walk through and me, my best friend and Father DeAnda were waiting for her. She walks down the aisle and sees me and I took her face in my hands and kissed her and told her the 50 years was worth it. I don’t know what she said back. When Father DeAnda asked if anyone had any objections to us being united, on my cue all the relatives yelled out “it’s too late” and the kids yelled out “cha cha cha.” It took us two tries to do it right but it was hilarious.
Q: I know the NBC is looking for a sit com winner with your new show. Can you deliver?
A: I only know that people said please come back. In order for success to happen I want to deliver happiness. I want to deliver warm, laughing with great feelings. I want something that tingles. There are some people who have grown up not knowing about the warmth in an exchange between two people that is not a heated conversation. I still think human beings can feel and can smile and with good writing and a good performance, I can deliver. You don’t have to present all negative to get a laugh. You don’t need a cell phone or the internet or social networking to get a laugh. Did you ever see Bart Simpson with a cell phone? I am from a world where words are funnier. And I will have a lot to say on the new show.
Q: What do you like to watch on tv?
A: Gunsmoke. There are 20 years worth of good tv. A western is a good thing because it has a good guy and a bad guy. To listen to Matt Dillon and his character, there were stories about feelings, family problems, social problems, stories about human beings and situations that still exist.
Q: What is something no one knows about you?
A: I am not telling!
Tickets for the show begin at $69.50. For information go to bushnell.org