General Adult Services news blog

Book Review – Cosby The Life of a Comedy Legend by Ronald L. Smith c 1997

Dr. William Henry Cosby Jr. was born on July 12, 1937 in Philadelphia. Bill Cosby is known as a comedy entertainer, and actor who has performed in numerous nightclubs, starred in movies and TV shows. Cos has also produced a large number of comedy albums and some videos. He is widely known for the cartoon series Fat Albert and The Cosby TV show featuring the Huxtable family.

Smith chronicles the events of Cosby’s life showing how Cos was influenced by his surroundings such as his childhood in the Richard Allen Project Homes, facing racial discrimination at a restaurant as a teen, Temple University, navy, marriage, birth of his children, entertainment world, sports activities, charities he supports and the death of his son.

The author also shows how Cos relates to others professionally and socially. Smith also compares Cos with other entertainers. At the end of the book there is a listing of Cosby’s albums, Emmy and Grammy awards, television series, movies and videocassettes, stage performances, videos and his authored books.

Cos learned some comic rules: 1. People have to like you to want to listen to you. and 2. A comic is not supposed to get angry in public.

Bill’s comic materials have consisted of his Noah and the Ark routine, parent-child relationships and lampoons of irritating commercials. Cos told a reporter, “I see things funny and I talk about the way I see them. I try to project a family atmosphere of sharing a joke with friends or relatives at home.” p.43

Smith compares Cos with other black entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Richard Pryor, Red Fox, Harry Bellefonte, and Sidney Poitier. Some would do jokes with racial humor, and use profanity. Others would try to confront the race issue by showing societal discrimination in movies and TV shows. Cos tried to keep neutral on the race issue and keep his humor family – oriented in order to try to appeal to everyone. His humor involved story-telling of common child hood human nature experiences such as sharing things with one’s siblings, and the consequences of not obeying one’s parents.

Cos did his doctoral thesis on the Saturday cartoon, Fat Albert that ran from 1972-85 with the aim of trying to entertain and educate children by trying to teach them moral lessons such as staying in school, honesty pays and how hard work pays off.

TheCosby Show TV Series about the Huxtable family ran 8 years from 1984-92 and was more popular than The Simpsons. The Cosby Show became very popular and was rated number one at NBC for a number of years. Cos kept a firm control on the writing staff and script. They wrote about human behavior. The book talks about how they rehearsed for the show. Cos consulted experts on medicine, law, and psychiatry to give out the correct information.

Smith states that Cos tries to compliment his family in public and keep their lives private.

Bill Cosby has been doing stand-up comedy to top concert venues and producing comedy albums for over 30 years as well as authoring a number of books. His latest book is entitled, I Didn’t Ask To Be Born (But I’m Glad I Was) c 2011 which is a collection of comedic observations about life experiences.

Cosby is Chairman of the National Hemophilia Foundation. He supports the congressional Black Caucus, American Cancer Society, The American Heart Association, the Aids foundation and other charities.

I would recommend this book and the biographical and/or the autobiographical genre to anyone (teens and adults) who like to learn about others and their experiences. -MA



What to do with your new e-reader

Are you looking for a good book for your new e-reader?  My Media Mall is a great place to shop for the perfect book.  Even better, all the titles you find there are free! 

To start your shopping trip, log on to the library's webpage and click the E-LIBRARY tab on the black bar.  Select My Media Mall and you are ready to begin.  On the left side of the home page the "Help" button will walk your through the setup process.

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