Last week, the great Bill Cosby- my favorite stand-up comedian- was honored with the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. It’s a well-deserved honor. In many ways, Cosby set the standard.
One of the great things about Cosby’s humor (and this was emphasized on the back of his album Why Is There Air?) is that he tells stories, not jokes punctuated with punchlines. What’s more, his delivery of lines that taken out of context would be neutral statements is such that he brings the house down.
And his routines remain timeless.
To the best of my recollection, I first encountered Cosby’s humor when I checked one of his albums out of the library around 1982 or so. I think it was When I Was a Kid. I own all but one of his comedy albums (Sports), and I can recite many routines by heart, even ones I haven’t heard in years.
A few of Cosby’s comedy albums include Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow, Right!; Wonderfulness; Why is There Air?; I Started Out As a Child; To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With (which Chris Rock singled out for praise during the ceremonies); Bill Cosby Himself; and Revenge. Among my favorites of his routines are the “Noah” trilogy, “Noah: Right!”, “Noah and the Neighbor”, and “Noah: Me and You, Lord.”; “Superman”; “Oops”; “Neanderthal Man”; “The Lone Ranger”; and “Chicken Heart.”
And that’s barely scratching the surface.
Cosby’s comedy even found its way into I Spy, the 1960s series he co-starred in with Robert Culp. There’s a scene in the episode “The Honorable Assassins” in which Alexander Scott (Cosby) and Kelly Robinson (Culp) make oblique references to Cosby the comedian. In the scene, the two men wake up in the middle of the night, ready to set out on a journey, only to discover several snakes on the floor of their room. This prompts Scott to tell the snakes to get out of there, leading Robinson to say that it reminds him of a comedy record.
“Yeah? Well, it’s not too funny, now,” Scott replies.
They’re alluding to the “Chicken Heart” routine, which relates, among other things, how a young Cosby was told when his parents were going out that invisible poisonous snakes around his bed would bite him and make him dead until morning if he got out of bed (to go into the living room and listen to Lights Out on the radio). Indignant, the young Cosby shouts, “snakes, you get out here! This is not your room, this is my room! Now you get out of here!”
Other I Spy episodes made reference to characters in Cosby routines (such as Old Weird Harold), but “The Honorable Assassins” had the character of Alexander Scott commenting (without naming names) on the humor of the real Bill Cosby.
If you don’t already own a Cosby comedy album, you’re missing out on some great stuff. And if you get a chance to see him live in concert, do so. I’ve seen him twice, at the Fox Theatre and at the State Fairgrounds.
Much kudos to the 18-year-old girl in Richmond, California, who ignored the apparent “culture of silence” in her community, and called 911 to report the rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her high school homecoming dance. Good for her.
Unfortunately, others in her community apparently didn’t see anything wrong in the attack. According to the reports, about two dozen people stood around and watched (even taking pictures with cell phone cameras). And to further fuel feelings of outrage any decent person should be feeling, those people who stood by and did nothing may not face any criminal responsibility. Seems a 1999 California law making it a crime to fail to report a crime against a child only applies to people 14 and younger.
But maybe they’ll face aiding and abetting charges. Either way, if there’s such a thing as Karma, I hope it smacks them down hard. They’d deserve it.
Along similar lines, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that students and alumni at the University of Sydney had set up a pro-rape Facebook page.
Still more worthless worms out there.
Willful ignorance annoys me.
Contrary to what some people believe, Catholicism is not a separate religion from Christianity. It’s part of Christianity. Catholics, like Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Pentecostals (among others), believe in the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, more commonly known as Jesus Christ. While various sects may differ in the interpretation of certain scriptures; on whether baptism should take place in infancy or later in life; on whether the communion wafers and wine undergo transubstantiation, becoming the actual body and blood of Christ; and on what sort of hierarchy, if any, a particular church has, again, any church that worships Jesus as the Son of God is, by definition, a Christian church.
This isn’t the first time I’ve run across this bizarre misconception that Catholicism is separate from Christianity. And contrary to what one woman who insists on accepting that misinformation as fact told me, Catholics do not worship the Pope. Nor do they worship Mary. Some may pray that Mary and/or a particular saint will intercede for them, but that just means they’re asking the saint and/or Mary to put in a good word for them with God. I was raised Catholic and have 10 years of Jesuit education, so I know what I’m talking about.
But the woman in question, when told she had her facts wrong, seemed to want to wear her ignorance like a badge of honor. Reminds me of something Daily Bugle publisher and Spider-Man nemesis J. Jonah Jameson once said to his city editor, Joe “Robbie” Robertson:
“Don’t confuse me with facts.”
Finally, from the “here we go again” department, two local radio stations are once again already playing non-stop Christmas music. I enjoy Christmas music, but in early November? That’s ridiculous. And then retail stores already have Christmas paraphernalia on display, usually right after Halloween. Hasn’t anyone told these turkeys that there’s a holiday between Halloween and Christmas?
A little thing called Thanksgiving. Anyone remember that? Anyone remember when the Christmas season began after Thanksgiving, once Santa had arrived at Hudson’s in the parade? Call me a traditionalist, but Christmas should come after thanksgiving, not run roughshod over it.
Copyright 2009 Patrick Keating