The 4 and 7:30 p.m. performances of An Evening of Bill Cosby, presented by John Nittolo Productions, Inc. May 15th in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, played to packed houses. Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr., standup comedian, actor, author, and educator, embraced his Triangle fans like old friends and intimately regaled them with a rambling series of anecdotes about the vicissitudes of married life, followed by a highly entertaining (and exquisitely detailed) blow-by-blow reenactment of his infamous trip to the dentist, which got funnier and funnier as the sketch went on.

The dentist visit was the only “Greatest Hit” reprised during the nearly two hours of side-splitting stories. The rest was fresh, new material, frequently punctuated with questions from and answers to various audience members. Cosby left his social commentator hat at home.

Not since Bea Arthur opened her one-woman show in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater on July 31, 2001, with a deadpan recitation of a recipe for a leg-of-lamb, has a recitation of the mundane been so funny. Like Arthur, Bill Cosby can find the humor, the pathos, the ironies, and the incongruities in even the most ordinary of everyday events. Unlike Arthur, The Cos has been the epitome of cool for four decades, from his first comic albums through “I Spy,” where he played a super-cool secret agent, through “The Cosby Show,” where he played America’s favorite dad.

Dressed informally, wearing sunglasses, and seated for most of the performance beneath a giant video screen that broadcast his rubbery facial expressions to those sitting in the cheap seats, Bill Cosby mainly poked gentle, affectionate, loving fun at his wife, Camille. Her insistence on running the household without any husbandly interference; her withholding of important details (such as the code for the household alarm system) from him, because he would just mess things up; her obsession with neatness; and the many small daily skirmishes between husband and wife became grist for Cosby’s comic mill.

When he wasn’t ribbing his wife, Cosby reminisced about fatherhood and grandfatherhood. After years without grandchildren, he recalled, “There was an explosion. Our [four] daughters just decided to baby.” He said his wife loved becoming a grandmother, because having to rear all those babies would pay their daughters back for what they did to her.

Some other highlights of An Evening of Bill Cosby include:

“You watch 80-year-old people. They know so much that they don’t even talk anymore.”

“You get married. I think that for the first three hours, [wives] really trust you. In the fourth hour, they decide you really don’t know what you are doing.”

“‘What did I do?’ [I asked. She replied,] ‘You didn’t do anything. I just had the feeling that you were going to.’”

“The longer you stay married, the farther ahead mentally [wives] are. You cannot compete.”

“I have high blood pressure; my wife has hypertension. The difference is, I won’t take my pills.”

“Dentists tell you not to pick at your teeth with sharp metal objects. Then you sit in their chair, and they pull out this iron hook.”

Bill Cosby’s nightmarish visit to the dentist, which closed this highly entertaining Evening, was a masterpiece of comic storytelling. If his Raleigh Memorial Auditorium audiences weren’t laughing so hard that they had tears in their eyes when he started that story, they were by the time that he finished.

John Nittolo Productions, Inc.: [inactive 8/07]. Internet Movie Database: “The Cosby Show”: [inactive 6/05].

PREVIEW: John Nittolo Productions, Inc.: The Cos Returns to the Triangle for An Evening of Bill Cosby

by Robert W. McDowell

Standup comedian, actor, author, educator, and social commentator Bill Cosby, a.k.a. The Cos, will return to the Triangle Sunday, May 15th, for two performances of An Evening of Bill Cosby, presented by Cherry Hill, NJ-based John Nittolo Productions, Inc. at 4 and 7:30 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts. Cosby will no doubt reprise some of the greatest hits from his best-selling comedy albums, while peppering the audience with fresh and very, very funny observations about his life, his marriage, and the passing American scene, circa 2005.

Born July 12, 1937, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the three-time Emmy Award winner is a U.S. Navy veteran, a graduate of Temple University in his hometown, and a holder of a master’s degree and a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr. is, perhaps, most famous for playing Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable a Philadelphia OB-GYN and America’s favorite father of five on television for 201 episodes of “The Cosby Show,” which ran from Sept. 20, 1984 through April 30, 1992. Indeed, TV GUIDE ranked Cliff Huxtable Number One in an article entitled the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” in the magazine’s June 20, 2004 issue.

However, Bill Cosby won the 1966, 1967, and 1968 Emmys for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series for playing American secret agent Alexander “Scotty” Scott in “I Spy” (1965-68). He also received the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award during the 2003 Emmy Awards show.

Some favorite Cosby quotations, courtesy the Internet Movie Database, include:

“It’s the little things that count when you’re a daddy. Like taking your little girl for ice cream. First, you have to teach her about the concept of gravity. I can’t tell you how many ice creams I’ve had to pick up off the floor, rinse off, and stick back on my kid’s cone. Now that may sound strange, but have you bought ice cream lately? Good gosh, it’s up to seventy-five cents a scoop. A scoop! What’s in it, gold?”

“Human beings are the only creatures that allow their children to come home.”

“Gray hair is God’s graffiti.”

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.”

“Don’t worry about senility when it hits you, you won’t know it.”

“A word to the wise ain’t necessary it’s the stupid ones who need the advice.”

“My mother and father ate oink. And they loved oink grease. Lard is what they ate. And they soaked up grease with a biscuit. And they loved butter too. And they sopped up and drank and ate grease. Sausage. Bacon. Ham. They loved it. Fatback. Salt pork. Oink. And I was born with lard all on my head, in the cracks of my arms and the back of my leg. So now my cholesterol is 741. So what? It doesn’t bother me that it’s 741. You eat what I eat, it’s supposed to be. Every once in awhile my left arm will go numb. Okay. But if you shake it, it’ll go away.”

“Because of my father, I thought my name was Jesus Christ. My brother Russell thought that his name was Damn It.”

Bill Cosby, who insisted that “The Cosby Show” depict the life and times a typical middle-class African-American family rather than another family living in the projects, recently became a lightning rod for speaking out on some of the ills affecting the African-American community and retarding its progress.

Last year, in a speech to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Brown vs. Board of Education case, which outlawed segregated schooling, Bill Cosby praised civil rights pioneers, but issued a stinging rebuke to other segments of the black community: “These people marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we’ve got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids $500 sneakers for what? I can’t even talk the way these people talk, ‘Why you ain’t,’ ‘Where you is’ … You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!”

When Cosby added that “Kids will spend $500 on sneakers, but won’t spend $200 on ‘Hooked-on-Phonics,’” he was vilified by some and praised by others. Subsequently, there were headline-grabbing charges of long-ago sexual misconduct, which Cosby vehemently denied.

No doubt, Cosby will still use portions of An Evening of Bill Cosby to promote the vital importance of getting a good education, mincing no words; and he will devote other portions of the show to hilarious reminiscences of Fat Albert, Weird Harold, and the gang and his famous stories about going to the dentist, futilely trying to cook and clean to the satisfaction of his wife Camille, etc . And a good time will be had by all.

John Nittolo Productions, Inc. presents An Evening of Bill Cosby Sunday, May 15, at 4 and 7:30 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $33.50-$48.50. 919/834-4000. John Nittolo Productions, Inc.: [8/97]. Internet Movie Database: “The Cosby Show”: [inactive 6/05].