Friday, July 10, 2015

No more laughter for a comic hero

Say it ain't so, Bill! America's favorite dad can't be a serial rapist!

But unfortunately, sadly, shockingly, distressingly, he's said it's true. In a deposition 10 years ago, Bill Cosby, a man I've admired and laughed with for decades, admitted to obtaining pills — quaaludes — for the purpose of having sex with female victims. The comedian had denied the allegations for years, even as the accusations piled up against him. I couldn't believe Cosby, the stand-up comic, television star, commencement speaker and social critic, could be guilty of these actions.

My memories of Cosby go back a long way, about 50 years. I was in high school when I or my sister obtained one of his comedy LPs. I memorized his monologue about Noah — "This is the Lord, Noah!" — and replayed it for my friends. His humor was always simple, connective and based on everyday events with which people from various walks of life could identify. His routines were about growing up, about strict upbringings and wild and crazy friends and football played in the street, and the shenanigans young boys get into. America identified with him and laughed with him. When he created his own TV show — "The Cosby Show" — he expanded his audience and his appeal. He showed Americans, black and white, the lives of upscale urban couple who happened to be African Americans, raising children in the modern world. The show was a huge hit and added to Cosby's aura.

Later, he became a social critic and commencement speaker. He critiqued the out-of-wedlock birth rate, the unspellable, African-sounding names with which some black mothers tagged their children, and the young adults who have little ambition or drive and often have no jobs. These criticisms brought the wrath of the NAACP and other groups but also won him support from conservatives.

When his son was cruelly murdered by highway bandits, he had a nation's sympathy. After all, he was "America's Dad."

But his admission that he not only betrayed his wife for sexual hook-ups, he drugged women to get sex, has made him a pariah. Sad. One of his first comedy albums was titled "Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow." Not any more.

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