Bill Cosby's back… sort of. The iconic comedian — who has encountered a slew of cancellations following sexual assault allegations from more than 20 women — headed to Canada and returned to the stage on Wednesday night. This marks the first time the 77-year-old funnyman has performed since Nov. 21.
Clad in a sweatshirt emblazoned with the message "Hello friend," Cosby did his routine in front of two giant posters of himself with Nelson Mandela. (We can only assume this was an attempt at PR). Before exiting, the star said he had a "wonderful time," and even received a standing ovation from the crowd. A bit later, he further expressed his gratitude that people showed up.
"Dear Fans: I would like to personally thank you for giving me the opportunity to bring laughter back into your lives tonight," Cosby said in a statement issued by his publicist. "Also, I would like to applaud all of you and give you a standing ovation for respecting yourselves, the theatre (Centre in the Square), and the event organizers that produced a spectacular show for the Kitchener Community."
But that's not say this gig went off without a hitch. A significant number of ticket-holders boycotted the show, leaving roughly one-third of the 2,000-seat venue glaringly empty. Further (and not surprisingly), protestors gathered outside armed with signs reading sentiments such as "Rape is no joke" and "Victims deserve to be free not fearful!"
And it's not only Cosby who has come under fire as the wave of allegations has swelled. His former co-star Phylicia Rashad was blasted by… well… just about everyone… after being quoted in Roger Friedman's Showbiz 411 column as saying, "Forget these women." Like Cosby, however, the actress is persevering — and, in this case, persevering means clarifying.
"That is not what I said. What I said is, 'This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of a legacy,'" she explained on Nightline. "I am a woman. I would never say such a thing." For his part, Friedman argued that he didn't technically misquote Rashad, but instead attributed the miscommunication on sloppy grammar.
Watch what Rashad had to say:
Still, Rashad stands by her insistence that she "never saw anything inappropriate" in the many years she worked with Cosby and says she still holds him in "high regard."
Despite her support, things don't seem to be getting much better for Cosby. Just yesterday, three new accusers came forward — with feminist attorney Gloria Allred in tow. Among the three women was one who met the star during her tenure as an assistant at L.A. power agency William Morris Endeavor. According to her account of the events, she was so traumatized by the comedian's assault that she was forced to resign from her job.
Only time will tell whether Cosby's legacy survives this chapter, but, in the meantime, it seems that he's keeping on keeping on. He is scheduled to appear at the Budweiser Gardens in London on Thursday and the Hamilton Place Theatre in Hamilton on Friday. For now, one thing we do know: The fans and protestors will be ready.