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Josh Reviews Bill Cosby “…Far From Finished”

December 4th, 2013

The moment I read, months ago, that Bill Cosby would be releasing a new stand-up special, his first in thirty years, I immediately pre-ordered the DVD on Amazon.  I am a huge Bill Cosby fan.  I grew up listening to his records (particularly Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow…Right! and I Started Out as a Child), and I think that Bill Cosby, Himself is far and away the greatest stand-up routine ever put to film.

So I was obviously excited at the prospect of stand-up material from the Cos.  I knew that he’d been continuing to tour and perform over the past several decades.  Jerry Seinfeld’s odyssey to see Cosby in the documentary Comedian is my favorite part of that film.  But I hadn’t ever seen Mr. Cosby perform live, so I didn’t have any real idea what his stand-up was like these days.  Could Cosby, in his late seventies, still be as funny as he was all those decades ago?

Sadly no.  While I enjoyed watching it, Bill Cosby …Far From Finished is no Bill Cosby, Himself, nor does it hold a candle to his earlier records from the sixties or seventies.  The material just isn’t as sharp, and there’s no question that Mr. Cosby has lost a few steps in terms of his delivery.  Particularly in the first half of the special, I felt that he takes a long, long time to tell his stories, far longer than was necessary.  This resulted in my actually being a little bit bored in that first half.  I felt that the material that took him 45-50 minutes to get through could have been told in 20 (and would have been far punchier at that shorter length).  It also results in a moment in which the audience actually gets ahead of Cosby during one of his bits, with several people shouting out the punchline before Cos gets to it, causing him to stop and say to the audience “let ME tell it!”  It’s a funny moment and a deft recovery by Mr. Cosby, but the fact that the audience could get so far ahead of him, that they could so easily spot the punchline, is a mark of the performance’s problems.

There were also a number of times in which Mr. Cosby stumbled a little over his words.  There was just a hint of sloppiness in his story-telling, and at times I felt it hindered him somewhat in delivering his punchlines.  One example that comes to mind is a bit in which Cos is explaining how, while all wives like to consider themselves to be the “best friend” of their husbands, wives are in fact nothing like friends.  He illustrates this … [continued]