Bill Cosby, he is proud to tell you, is a Temple man.
So that makes “An Evening with Bill Cosby,” Thursday night at the Temple Performing Arts Center extra significant.
“I’m indebted to Temple University for allowing me in,” Cosby says. “I’m indebted to a fella named Gavin White [Cosby’s former coach at Temple] for talking to me when I was I was coming out of the service [the Navy] and I’m indebted to my remedial English teacher who when I finally decided that I was going to do something that I was assigned to do as opposed to hoping that it would just pass away if I didn’t turn the paper in, he stood before the freshman remedial English class with my paper in his hand and read it to the class. That started it all, my friend.”
The professor’s name is lost to history but Cosby, 76, went onto become an American comedy icon. The Germantown native’s sly observational humor enlightens the universal foibles of life. Cos is a groundbreaker, too. He was the first African-American actor in a lead role on American prime time TV in the 1965 to 1968 series “I Spy.”
“The Cosby Show,” which aired from 1983 to 1992, had a universal appeal and broadened the scope of roles for African-Americans on TV.
Cosby has led by example throughout his career. Yet, it sometimes seems he leads by admonishment in recent years. He’s become an outspoken critic of the lack of good parenting and he publically laments the level of violence between young people in the country.
His stances are not new for him, if you’ve been following his career, he says.
“If you had a chance to go over the things I have said to media, you would find that I’m saying the same things that I said back then,” Cosby says. “It’s about the community, it’s about the home life and so if you look at those 52 years I’ve been in show business, the media has a way of ignoring what you say.”
Cosby’s voice is amplified on the issues today as there are few other prominent people speaking out about them, he says. He supports Mayor Nutter’s recent call for neglectful parents to get more involved in their children’s lives.
“We have to take it upon ourselves, look at what government has done — shutdown,” Cosby says. “We are people and we have get together and we have to look at each other. Now it is the time when it is called upon us to try and change things.”
That’s the word from Mr. Huxtable and it carries great weight. But things will lighten up at Temple on Thursday and also at his Saturday, Nov. 9, performance following the Temple-Penn men’s basketball game at the Palestra.
“It’s comedy,” says Cosby of the upcoming shows. “Period.”
“An Evening with Bill Cosby”
35th Anniversary fundraiser for the Bushfire Theatre of Performing Arts
Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Temple Performing Arts Center
1837 N. Broad St.