Stereotypes

October 09, 2011

This evening we had tickets to go see Bill Cosby, a show I have been looking forward to seeing ever since the 2011-2012 season was announced for McCain Auditorium. Bill Cosby was the first comedian I ever heard, and he has always been my favorite.

When I was about 8 or 9 years hold I discovered an album in my parent's record collection called "Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow. Right!" When I asked my mom about it she said, "Oh, you'll like that," and promptly played it for me. That someone could tell stories, complete with sound effects, that were funny thrilled me. I listened to that album until I had the words memorized. I could lip sync the entire thing flawlessly. Over time I bought all of Bill Cosby's records and memorized all his routines. Another boy from my Boy Scout troop and I once did a campfire skip based on the whole Noah's Ark routine.

In about 1980 I got to see him live for the first time when he played my university, Illinois State. And I saw him about 9 years ago in Springfield, Illinois when he played the small college there. Both of those performances were side-achingly funny. So it was with high hopes and great anticipation that I bought our tickets, and that we went to the show with tonight.

The entire show was based around gender stereotypes. Specifically husband and wife stereotypes. There were one or two funny lines, but the gist of the show wasn't funny. Sibylle left part way through, but I stayed on hoping that he would shift gears and talk about something else - anything else. Unfortunately he didn't. The entire show was misogynistic.

I don't watch television any more, in large part due to the insultingly crude stereotypes that are thrust at you from every show. To have my favorite entertainer stoop to the level of situation comedies and play off tired gender stereotypes for 90 minutes was disheartening.

For forty years I have enjoyed the work of Bill Cosby, and I have felt good about his style of humor - no foul language and nothing mean spirited. Tonight marred that record in my eyes, some of the luster is gone from my impression of him and his comedy.

Tonight, Bill Cosby was not a very funny fellow, at all.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.