Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.”
Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.
So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!
At 75 years old, Bill Cosby comes across sort of like a crotchety grandfather, but while he may have sometimes acted befuddled and hesitant, there was never a moment during his 90-minute show at Treasure Island in Las Vegas when he didn’t know exactly what he was doing. He took the stage wearing a flannel shirt (not a sweater, alas) and loose-fitting cargo pants, on a set that looked like it was lifted from his living room (a rug, a chair with a sweatshirt draped over it, an end table with bottled water and a box of tissues, even a trash can).
Cosby is more of a sit-down comic than a stand-up comic these days, but the fact that he delivered nearly his entire performance seated in that chair didn’t make it any less engaging. Instead, it felt like an evening with a particularly cantankerous family member, one who’d never let you get a word in edgewise and would never consider the possibility that someone else’s opinion was valid. Cosby did engage with the audience – he even seemed overly sensitive at times, stopping at the sound of someone dropping a bottle and when a child started making noise. But in both cases he used the disruption as a chance for a comedic tangent; in response to the fussy child, he detoured into some of his most well-known subject matter, talking about the indignities of the childbirth process.
That digression came in the middle of a very long segment about the Bible’s Book of Genesis, which went on for more than half an hour and featured long stretches without anything resembling a joke. Cosby is as much a storyteller as he is a joke-teller, so he had no trouble holding the audience’s attention even when he wasn’t specifically being funny, though his belabored analogy between Adam and Eve’s relationship and modern marriage did eventually run a little thin.
Most of Cosby’s extensive material about marriage was pretty musty, relying on well-worn gender stereotypes that were outdated when his eponymous sitcom was a hit on NBC. As he reminded the audience numerous times, he’s been married for 49 years, so maybe it’s unfair to expect him to expand his views on the matter, but time hasn’t exactly been kind to Cosby’s perspective.
His chunks about men’s obligations to buy fancy engagement rings and the way wives take over the home and run their husbands’ lives did contain funny lines along the way. (“Forty-nine years and I have one drawer left. I don’t know where it is.”) But he also sounded out of touch and even a little worn out, asserting that “Your wife is not your friend,” and painting nearly every aspect of marriage as adversarial. The audience laughed and applauded, and one or two people even shouted, “We love you!,” so it’s obvious that Cosby’s observations still strike a chord. Like the stubborn, opinionated family member, he’s loved and appreciated, even if his point of view seems increasingly less relevant.
By Josh Bell
Love old reruns of The Cosby Show? Check out these upcoming events based on classic sitcoms:
Saturday, March 10-Sunday, March 11 I “Judy Garland Takes Broadway! w/ Ethel Merman and Bea Arthur” – Studio City, California Don’t miss an opportunity to see the LA Magazine February 2013 Archetype Peter Mac as Judy Garland in his award winning tribute to Judy Garland. Special Guest star for this run is DJ Schaefer as Bea Arthur and Ethel Merman. His critically acclaimed performance as Bea Arthur has been lauded by TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly and NBC News.
Friday, April 26-Sunday, July 14 I “Late Night TV Shows – Three’s Company 2013” – Reno, Nevada These half hour episodes of your favorite TV shows are brought to you in a live stage experience and played individually on a variety of late evenings after Brüka main stage shows.
Friday, May 24-Saturday, June 15 I “A Night at Fawlty Towers” – Denver, Colorado Enjoy four episodes from the classic British Television Comedy that perfectly demonstrates the classic John Cleese-style of humor and mixes it with plenty of slapstick comedy fun.