CT BOOM Thanksgiving Throwback: Bill Cosby Gave Me Homework

CT BOOM Thanksgiving Throwback: Bill Cosby Gave Me Homework
2 comments, 11/28/2013, by , in CELEBRITY, WEIRD

Ever have one of those really odd days? Just one unexpected thing happens after another?  I was having one of those days last week.  I was bombarded with work and putting my jacket on to run out of the office when the hotline rang.

What’s the hotline?  It’s like the bat phone of CTBoom.  When it rings, you answer.  You answer quickly.  It’s used for emergencies, when the boss wants to grab us immediately or when someone famous/important is on the other line.

“Hotline” (You never disclose where the caller is calling in case it’s the wrong number)

“Yes, I have an interview” –Mystery Person

I roll my eyes.  Who set up an interview and forgot?  I sigh.

“Who is your interview with?” -Me

“Let me check my paper… Ed.” –Mystery Person

“Hold on” –Me.

I run into Ed’s studio and tell him there’s someone on the phone that says he has an interview.  Ed has no idea who it is.  I return to the bat phone.

“Hi, who is this?” –Me

“Bill Cosby” –Bill Cosby.

I gasp in glee.

“Oh hi, let me go check and see if the guys are ready” I nervously stumble over my words.

“What time is it?” Dr. Huxtable asks.

“12:07” I reply.

“My interview was for Noon.”

Click… Silence.

Bill Cosby just hung up on me.

I run into Ed’s studio and say that it was Bill Cosby.  Begley runs in exactly 13 seconds later and says that he forgot about the Bill Cosby interview.  I stare at them in disbelief- Who forgets that Bill Cosby is calling?  It gets better.   Apparently both of them are too busy to interview him.  Is this a joke?  What is happening in the CTBoom world that there’s no time for Bill Cosby?! At this point, I’m sure that he will not call back.  But I do assure them that if he does, I’ll interview him.

Riiiiiiiiinggggg….. bat phone.

As I run out the door I hear Ed scream “He’s coming to the Ridgefield Playhouse next weekend”-

I grab the phone, press record and breathlessly explain that I’ll be doing the interview since Ed was stuck with clients.  (Note: That is a lie, there were no clients)  As I frantically try to get the Internet up to figure out what we’re going to talk about, I say “So, you’re coming to the Ridgefield Playhouse next week, huh?”

Silence.

“Stammmmmmfooooorrrrrd”  Bill Cosby says.

Damn it Ed.  You think he would at least have told me the right venue he was performing.  Turns out he’ll be at the Stamford Palace Theatre on Saturday.  Ooops.  Well, we’re off to a great start.

While I continue to get on a computer,  I mention that at one point I was a stand up comedian in Manhattan.  When I was starting out I took a course at Carolines On Broadway about the art of stand up and we had a lecture about him.  We discussed the fact that he was the only comedian who was able to do long form comedy successfully while not using profanity.

Well, that’s all I had to say.  He then went on a 22-minute rant about just that.  Now, of course you’re thinking that during the time I was enlightened by his pearls of wisdom- See, I told you early on in this blog that this was an odd day.  I hadn’t expected to interview one of the comedians that I’ve looked up to since I was a little girl watching Rudy deal with her dead goldfish.

At first I thought I just wasn’t paying close enough attention to what he was saying, since I was Googling “Bill Cosby” as quickly as I could- then it dawned on me… This guy was giving me a lecture.  I better pay attention.

As I tuned in and focused on what he was telling me, I came to another realization- he was insane.  In a rant about finding himself in a Chinese restaurant to how identifying with people on the Subway made him famous, he continued to lecture the only way Dr. Huxtable could.  If you’ve ever heard Bill Cosby speak, he uses plenty of pregnant pauses.  If you’re not familiar with that term, it refers to long pauses that build anticipation- Unfortunately, I had no idea where his story was going or whether it was complete- So it was damn near impossible to know when I was supposed to talk.  I actually pride myself on being a great interviewer and I had finally been dealt an interview where I had lost control.

At this point, during the thirteenth minute, I had my list of questions I wanted to ask- I wanted to know what was the dumbest thing he ever heard a kid say- He must have had plenty of memorable quotes given he had that show “Kids Say the Darndest Things” for years- I wanted to know which of the Cosby Show kids he thought would most likely film a porn, and if he ever just made crap up when he was doing his story-telling stand up comedy bits.  At this point, I believe he referenced himself as Dr. Cosby and I knew that this was all going downhill quickly.

I never got the chance to ask any of those questions because he still wasn’t done talking about long form comedy.  At this point, I literally had no idea what he was saying and was glancing at the clock wondering how much longer this would last.  And like a high school kid who is staring out the window during seventh period Math class, I was snapped back into reality.  All I heard was “…buy my book and look at page 153 and you’ll find your answer there”.

Finally, I could get a word in! “What happens on page 153?’ I asked.

“You’ll have to go buy the book and find out”- and that’s when I realized that it had happened.  Bill Cosby had  just given me homework.  He alluded to reading the book and learning from it.  He may have told me to write a report, I honestly don’t remember and truthfully, I can’t listen to the audio again to try to figure it out.

Every time I tell this story to someone, they immediately become angry with me.  No one believes that a legend like Bill Cosby could not make an ounce of sense for an entire 22 minutes.  Then I send them the audio… and they are just as dumbfounded as I was.  One friend pointed out that perhaps he was annoyed that no one remembered they had an interview with him and this was his retaliation.  Maybe… or Bill Cosby has lost his mind.

I bet you’re wondering what happens on page 153 of his book Cosbyology that will answer all my questions.  Um, it’s homework; I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  The good news is that I was able to find a used copy on Amazon.com for one penny.  Yes, it cost 1 cent plus $3.99 shipping.  So when it gets here, I will write my homework assignment and post it on CTBoom.  It should be ready in 4-14 business days.

If you don’t believe me and think I’m exaggerating- Go ahead and listen.  I have not edited a single word of this audio.

 

 

 

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1 comments
Colin
Colin

I think what he was saying makes sense. What can people expect: Cosby answers very literally. He's making fun of you and the question to an extent - he's giving you a complete answer to a question that you did not intend to be complex. Keeping it clean for the kids: again, answering long form to something that should be short. He doesn't like the word clean because it oversimplifies what happened when Richard Pryor started using profanity - profanity became a norm because what he did was so profound that everyone thought they could and should use it. Working clean is normative to comedy - the funny is in the clean, unique way of viewing the world, not necessarily in the curse word. What they taught us (that you could make a career without using profanity): The reason why they (the teachers) think that what I (bill cosby) am doing is hard or complex is because they're not teaching you how to be clean funny. When I grew up, we didn't use a lot of profanity and that's how I learned comedy. I went to places where it was OK to do smart humor even if the people in the room weren't necessarily smart - they expected you to try to lift them up instead of speak down to them. He then transitions to the idea that you've "quit" stand up comedy because you were not taught how to truly do it. Even though you're a humor writer, he wants you to aspire or he sees you as aspiring to being an actual stand up comic. So the point he transitions to is that comedy takes a great deal of time. It won't come to you instantly. Just sit down and try to bring yourself into a funny place and go at whatever speed you go to when you're in that funny place. It might be fast, it might be slow but it's kind of like a zen practice - its about being and doing without putting pressure on yourself so you can achieve peak performance. Think "flow" but for comedians. So here comes a long story. What is it about? Its about the time that it takes to create a good piece of material that everyone can relate to. The point is, to make the joke about a nut in every car, he had to have all these experiences before he "accidentally" found the funny and was able to develop it into a routine. He used his instinct and thought that something was "funny" about how the subway car was filled crazy people (namely, that it was scary) and he came up with a new way of making something scary not scary - by presenting the setup as "hey, this is just entertainment for people who don't have a lot of money - people act crazy on the subway car." Basically, here's a scary truth presented in a non-threatening manner. What was previously chaos became part of the plan. I could go on. If you'd like, we could correspond and I could literally translate everything that he's saying into so called plain english. But I think the real key to understanding what happens in this phone call is that he's not giving you an interview, he's actually legitimately trying to help you do stand up by trying to transfer/communicate his experiences to you. Its not in a sound bite, its more of a fable/story and you kind of have to read between the lines. To be fair I might be a crazy person on the internet. But what he's saying doesn't sound crazy to me, it just sounds like an old guy who has decided to do what he wants instead of what other people want him to do. You wanted (or your company wanted) an interview. He wanted to try to teach you what he thinks he's learned about comedy. That's why he called back. In his mind, at first, he was like forget this interview with people who clearly are not organized/are not with it, I'm Bill Cosby. And then he was like, I'm Bill Cosby. Maybe I can't give them an interview but maybe I can help them. That way, I'm being both emotionally honest (essential to comedy) and genuinely compassionate/well meaning (essential to life, in my opinion)

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