Bill Cosby: Himself (1983)

bill cosby 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: The Cos onstage routine.

Filmed in Hamilton, Ontario the movie centers entirely on Cosby in concert as he sits in front of a very enthusiastic audience doing many of his typical onstage routines including takes on child rearing, family life, marriage, dentist visits and even fart jokes. There is also a bit at the beginning about people who go out on weekends to party and get drunk only to regret it on Monday morning, which I found to be the funniest.

Although not R-rated the humor is still edgier than you might expect at one point he even says the word ‘asshole’ and uses his chair like it is a toilet that he is throwing up into. The material isn’t exactly fresh either as some of the jokes were already used during the pilot episode of his 60’s comedy TV-show. The opening credit sequence, which shows black and white pictures of kids and teenagers, which may or may not be his own is good because it features The Cos doing a parody of the Bill Withers’ song ‘Just the Two of Us’ only here it gets called ‘Just the Slew of Us’. Cosby’s entrance onto the stage in which he enters to the roar of the crowd and then leaves and comes back again to more applause is funny and shows his incredible ability to work an audience while looking completely at ease.

These days of course with the rape allegations this film along with everything else he has done has taken on a sour note. Some may not want to watch it simply for that reason and that’s fine. I’m conflicted a bit with the whole thing due to the fact that there are so many women suddenly coming forward after remaining silent for so many years like they just want to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ for whatever reason, but ultimately there is too many of them at this point to believe that they all could be lying.

The way I figure it, it all makes sense because in Hollywood the celebrity has access to a wider circle of attractive, younger people that a regular person doesn’t, which is why most marriages and relationships there don’t last because it’s just too easy to find someone else no matter what the age or looks of the star may be. Don Knotts in his 70’s managed to date and marry an attractive blonde in her 30’s. Dick Van Dyke who is near 90 is married to a woman in her 40’s and Carol Burnet in her early 80’s is married to a man in his 40’s. Tinseltown is full of people with trophy-like girlfriends (or boyfriends) to the point that it is the norm and even acceptable, but for Cosby it would’ve ruined his career because his whole act hinges on family values. So by drugging them to which he is accused of was his way of ‘fooling around’ and taking advantage of his celebrity status while still keeping his ‘clean-cut’ image intact and banking on the fact that no one would believe them if they ever did decide to come forward.

However, the biggest controversy in this instance is even calling this a movie to begin with. Most films even a documentary have some cutaways or visual variety, but this has none. We don’t even get to see the faces of the audience. The camera stays glued to Cosby from beginning to end, which despite his engaging nature and mildly funny jokes becomes incredibly tedious to sit through and watch.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: May 20, 1983

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Bill Cosby

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

2 responses to “Bill Cosby: Himself (1983)

  1. This used to air on HBO all the time. I was 12 or 13, and I loved it back then. I remember my stomach hurting from laughing so hard. A couple of years ago I saw this was coming on TV, so I watched it again. I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes of it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was going to write a review about it, but I couldn’t sit though it all. And this was long before the allegations came out, so it wasn’t that. I wonder if I would be just as disappointed with Eddie Murphy’s Delirious or Raw.

    • I know what you mean. Certain movies that you like the first time around just aren’t as appealing when you go back to view them a second time, which is why I sometime am reluctant to watch films that I enjoyed years ago because I’m afraid the ‘magic’ feeling won’t be there again.

      I also watched this on HBO back in the 80’s as well. It seemed much funnier to me as a kid too!

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