I think funny.” That's Bill Cosby's key to comedy. “Number one, I love to laugh,” he said. “Number two, I love to listen.” When we called the classic comic at home in Massachusetts, he told a story about sitting at dinner with his wife, children and grandchildren, particularly his 8-year-old granddaughter.
“I said, ‘So, the boys in your class, I hear there is one who would like to kiss you,'” he said. “I started to laugh and every time I mentioned a boy and the kissing... she bit her elbow and started doing a karate chop on the table.”
Cosby said he laughed so hard that tears were coming out of his eyes.
On the phone, Cosby, 72, sounds much like he does onstage. He tells long stories and drops in as many quips and funny remarks as he can.
He said he likes making people laugh. He likes to help people escape their everyday lives, but most of all, he wants people to know that they're not going through life alone.
“Generally, even if I'm talking about children or parents, it will resonate the same,” Cosby said.
His comedic style has long been broad and relatable among all races and social classes. Some of his albums are considered classics. Jerry Seinfeld frequently cites Cosby's album “To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With” as one of the main reasons he got into comedy.
Cosby acknowledges that those performances were great.
“‘To Russell, My Brother' and ‘200 M.P.H.,' those things are knock-out-of-the-park performances,” he said. “They should be in a hall of fame ... That was the beginning of a style of storytelling. I didn't have to be two minutes and 39 seconds. I could do 17 minutes, or do 24 minutes.”
He has a wealth of material to choose from, but Cosby said he doesn't recycle too much. He could do bits from those old albums, but he tries to keep things fresh with stories about his children and grandchildren.
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KEEPING IT CLEAN
Bill Cosby long ago earned a reputation for being a hilarious stand-up comedian without cursing or being vulgar. His comedy has inspired tons of comics to step up to the mic, and many of them have stuck to Dr. Cosby’s clean comedy philosophy. These are some of the most notable.
You know him from “Seinfeld,” but he’s been a stand-up for decades and his comedy focuses on observational humor in relationships and social situations without being dirty.
Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if...” one-liners have been turned into calendars, T-shirts and all sorts of stuff. Plus Foxworthy was a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. “The Jeff Foxworthy Show” ran for two seasons on ABC and NBC.
A complete oddball, Gaffigan delivers his quips totally deadpan. One of his most famous bits is about “Hot Pockets. “I’ve never eaten a Hot Pocket and then afterwards been, ‘I’m glad I ate that.’ I’m always like, ‘I’m gonna die! I paid for that?! Did I eat it or rub it on my face? My back hurts!’”
By day, she hosts the talk show “Ellen.” She’s also been in a pair of sitcoms, but she’s been telling jokes since her 20s.
Also a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Engvall focuses on everyday things and the virtues of the simple life. His 1996 album, “Here’s Your Sign,” also gave him a long-running catchphrase.