Disgraced TV star and comedian Bill Cosby surprised a Philadelphia audience with a stand-up set, in advance of a rape trial set to begin in just a few months.
Cosby was at the Club LaRose in Germantown when he took to the stage as part of a show honoring jazz drummer Tony Williams, surprising gathered punters. The 80-year-old comedian is back in Philly to face aggravated indecent assault charges.
It is alleged that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted a woman in his Montgomery County home. The previous trial ended in a hung jury last year, with the second one set to begin on April 2.
As many as 19 women, who all accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them, may testify at the trial following a motion by Montgomery County D.A. Kevin Steele.
However, considering the same judge is set to preside over proceedings, and that he didn't agree with a similar motion last year, it's unclear whether the witnesses will be allowed to appear in court. This may change, however, considering everything that's happened in the intervening months in relation to #MeToo, Time's Up, and other campaigns against sexual abuse. The landscape in 2018 is considerably different.
Cosby announced his surprise set at the LaRose, which was open to the public just a few hours in advance, perhaps on purpose. The event kicked off with some music from the Tony Williams Jazz Quartet.
Cosby told a handful of classic jokes that wouldn't have felt out of place in one of his stand-up shows from years past. He ruminated on his childhood and growing up as an African-American, sharing an anecdote about asking his uncle why he wasn't white and being told "coffee," as well as making fun of his visual impairment. Naturally, Cosby didn't mention his impending trial, or his legal battles last year.
Cosby took the stage for a little over an hour and got a mostly positive reception from the small crowd. He made fleeting references to his wife and daughter ("a very intelligent lady") during the set and even played drums with the band at one stage.
After asking the bassist's young son up on stage, Cosby was left red-faced when, after asking the kid if he knew who he was, he was told, "You used to be a comedian."
Cosby stands accused of sexual assault by more than fifty women, stretching back decades. In a deposition around 10 years ago, he admitted to using drugs and fame to seduce women.
This was his first onstage appearance since his tour was halted in May 2015, following mounting sexual assault allegations. The chief complainant in the upcoming trial is Andrea Constand who accuses Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her at his Philadelphia home back in 2004. Constand's is one of the only allegations that still falls under the statute of limitations.