Bill Cosby shares life story with students, families
Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 01:10
Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, 74, sat surrounded by over 4,500 students, parents and family members—decked out in a Blue Hens sweatshirt and Delaware sweatpants—as he shared stories from his childhood and about his family Friday night in his comedy show at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Cosby is known for his role as Cliff Huxtable, the lively father of five on "The Cosby Show" which aired from 1984 to 1992. He also created the '70s children's show "Fat Albert" and has written books, sung and performed as a stand-up comedian. He is an activist for the black community, encouraging African-Americans to focus on education and instill strong morals in their children at a young age.
This was Cosby's third performance at the Bob Carpenter Center, after coming in 1992 and 1998. At the sold-out event, Cosby spoke about his own family's experiences when his daughter went away to college for the first time. He talked about the mishaps that occurred throughout her college career—poor grades, frequent lies and her shaky commitment to education. He and his wife were ultimately rewarded by seeing her graduate, which he said made the tears and family drama during their daughter's college years worthwhile.
Cosby sat down with The Review before the event to talk about commitment, hitting rock bottom and helping those in need.
Q&A with Bill Cosby
Since you've been involved in comedy and entertainment for decades, how do you feel about its transformation over the years?
Cosby: Well, let's make it clear. We got a lot of things in entertainment. You have radio, which moved to home entertainment with television, which has moved from three channels. As you move, all of these things have evolved—the technical ways of showing things. You've gone from whatever to megaphone to radio stations, that have changed from playing what was a mixture of comedy and singing—the style of the songs. Now you've got 900 channels, so to speak, and I just expect more to follow in the world of change and things that I can't even see that far ahead but I'm sure that some geniuses will be able to tell and invent things that will change the way we look at things—animation, so to speak.
You definitely seem to have taken your own advice in your quotes like, "Decide that you want it more than you're afraid of it." What inspires you to do all that you do—the acting, the comedy, the activism—and was there ever a time that you were too afraid to try something?
Cosby: A lot of things I was afraid of. And I think the word "commitment" is very important. But commitment can be the answer to, "How did you succeed?" The fear of making a commitment, of course, is related to the low self-esteem—but how did you get it? What clicked that off for you? And then, there's that wonderful, mysterious rock bottom which is a mystery to everyone. What is your rock bottom that causes you to look at where you are and feel that you're worth more than the position you're in and who can help you more than anyone to get out of it? That was brilliant. And unpracticed!
Can you talk about how you became an activist and how you help the black community?
Cosby: My story goes way, way back. And I never did things to be in the front of a line or to have my picture taken. I did things in a sort of power position—I'm talking about my years in the '60s. We busted unions in California instead of going for a march and we put people to work because we overpaid—paid two for one. And then we aided people running for office—when I say "we," I mean Mrs. Cosby because her part was monetary as well. In other words, in a marriage, if I give somebody a dollar, 50 cents of that is Mrs. Cosby's. The idea today, with my speech in 2004, is for people who are in trouble—monetarily, socially and certainly in trouble in terms of a lack of power. It's for them to get up and make a commitment to protecting the children. Now these are the people I'm talking about if you're in trouble and you're looking around and you see your kid is going to be in trouble. You've got to make that commitment to save your child. You've got to make the commitment in the home to do that. There are things that you will want to do and see happen as a parent, and that's on you. Parents are supposed to teach, and they're supposed to teach and prepare children for the next level of life, period. And that we have to continue to do.