By to the gospel of Cosby, when you connect, people listen, and when they listen, they can learn. They also, in his experience, will listen better while laughing.
Cosby was born and raised in Philadelphia, received a degree in education from Temple University, and broke into the business at a time when a black comic was an anomaly. He said that desire to connect drew him to comedy from an early age.
“Where did it start?” he asked rhetorically in a recent telephone interview promoting his two stand-up performances on Sunday at Bell Auditorium. “Where did this understanding, this desire to be funny, come from? It’s certainly not something I understood growing up, but I loved hearing it. I studied it, studied how to make people laugh. It was the same as a kid playing a violin or acting or working to become a doctor. I was drawn.”
Conversationally, Bill Cosby the man is similar to Bill Cosby the performer. He’s a natural storyteller, letting information spill into tangents, sometimes seeming to meander and yet always managing to circle the narrative wagons around his point.
He said early professional inspiration came from Bob Newhart, Mel Brooks’ and Carl Reiner’s 2,000-Year-Old Man sketch, and Dick Gregory. He said he also owes a lot to an anonymous stranger encountered at a Chinese restaurant.
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