Last night might have been tough for Philadelphians, what with the Phillies falling to the New York Yankees and ceding the World Series to the "evil empire." But all was not lost for the City of Brotherly Love, for native son Bill Cosby was the toast of TV — receiving the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in a broadcast on PBS that included praise from Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Dick Gregory, Carl Reiner, Steven Wright, Sinbad and more. Cosby also appeared again last night on Late Show with David Letterman, and managed to work in a bit about the World Series and a quirk of live performances that many can relate to. How do you perform to a live audience when something big such as the World Series (or other big sporting event, or an election perhaps) has some audience members distracted. Roll the relevant clip with the Cos and Letterman!
As for last night's PBS broadcast, it was a fittingly jazzy tribute, opening with music and including multiple musical numbers between toasts from comedians.
Among the highlights: Seinfeld and Rock opening by talking about going to see Cosby at the Apollo and walking out with "sad faces" because of how much funnier he is than they are; Sinbad saying comedians can only hope to get close enough by riding his coattails; Wright saying his Noah and the Ark routine "is still funny today"; Reiner talking about how his son, Rob, as a teen recited that bit and got him to bring Cos in to meet the Dick Van Dyke show gang and eventually cast him in I Spy; Gregory talking about how Cosby erased race from the media's equation in describing Gregory and others as "negro comics"; the Cosby Show's "Claire" and "Theo" talking about lessons learned from him; and Cosby himself at the end telling a story about his childhood and vowing to patrons who see him touring today, "You're going to get everything I have." The only thing I wish I hadn't seen or heard was one bit in which Seinfeld talked about how people often misused the word "hysterical," while he said listening to one of Cosby's old albums did just that. That had to have been coincidental, right? Not that Louis CK doesn't know what it's like to hear someone else say one of his jokes to a nationally-televised audience. Anyhow. This post isn't supposed to be about that.
We have come here to this Internet to praise the great legacy of stand-up comedy that Bill Cosby continues to build upon, show after show. And if you'd like to watch the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor honors for Bill Cosby, well, you can check your local PBS listings. Or you can click on this link that will show you the entire program, honoring Bill Cosby with the Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center.