Bill Cosby is best remembered for The Cosby Show, Fat Albert and Jell-O pudding pops — not sexual assault. But comedian Hannibal Buress jogged our collective memory late last week with a routine that candidly addressed Cosby’s history as an accused rapist.
Cosby, now 77, is but one of several male celebrities who have been accused of sexual abuse and gone on to have long and generally unaffected careers. Like his unenviable cohorts, Cosby has enjoyed a lengthy career, even after more than a dozen women came forward with rape allegations over the years. He even won the Marian Anderson Award in 2011, which is reserved for “critically acclaimed artists who have impacted society in a positive way, either through their work or their support for an important cause.”
The contradiction between Cosby’s mainstream reputation as a fairly sought-out, if not uncontroversial, voice on issues that affect the black community and his multiple sexual allegations is what Buress homed in on during his set Thursday at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia.
“And it’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fucking smuggest old black man public persona that I hate,” Buress said. “Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the ’80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom. Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby. So, brings you down a couple of notches. … I’ve done this bit onstage, and people don’t believe. People think I’m making it up. …That shit is upsetting. If you didn’t know about it, trust me. You leave here and google ‘Bill Cosby rape.’ It’s not funny. That shit has more results than Hannibal Buress.”