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Bill Cosby schools tech youngsters in comedy

Bill Cosby, B.J. Novak, Penn & Teller top Austin comedy events to see in March
Victoria Will

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Bill Cosby? At Lustre Pearl — that tiny, Rainey Street house-converted-into-a-bar?

Wait — the Bill Cosby?

The whole set-up had an air of danger, as if something crazy could happen. And — as those teases you see in your Facebook feed often say — what happened next will surprise you.

It turns out a crowd of between 400-500 people, many of them too young to have seen “The Cosby Show” in its initial run, much less have familiarity with his albums and classic routines, and who were packed like sardines under a tent in the bar’s backyard, totally dug The Cos.

Wearing a loose, black sweatshirt (no “Cosby Show” sweater here) emblazoned with the Funny or Die logo and the multi-colored phrase “HELLO FRIEND,” the legendary comic rarely faltered.

A bit about texting at the beginning was an iffy gambit to relate to the crowd, but it led into some classic routines, mostly centered around the difference between men and women, husbands and wives.

“You haven’t lived as long as I have. You don’t know!” Cosby said as he spun simple acts such as thermostat changes into major conflicts.

He mostly sat in a chair on the small stage, but occasionally got up for a short walk to one side or the other, which inevitably caused a rash of camera phones to pop over heads (otherwise, for those standing, it was difficult to see Cosby unless you watched on one of two video screens).

His delivery might be a little slower these days, but darned if the comic didn’t charm the pants off the young crowd. It helps that the truths contained in Cosby’s men vs. women routines are universal and, it would seem, timeless.

As Cosby explained that wives don’t want husbands to go to bed early because then the men will get up early and prowl around the house, young people — very young people — would poke at each other and whisper, “that’s you!”

Cosby’s bits included a longish shaggy dog story about a trip to Africa and a snipe hunt for Tarzan; a bit about Adam naming the animals and his and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden; and an aged childhood friend’s birthday party.

Whatever the story, his classic mugging and that thing that only he can do where he rolls his eyes upward, leans his head back and opens his mouth into a wide, tongue-wagging grin were expertly incorporated. It’s hard to tell whether Cosby got more laughs when he was talking or twisting his expressive eyes and still-elastic face.

It had the feeling of a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was totally worth the 3-hour wait in line.

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