November 11, 2006

Review: Bill Cosby at the Landmark Theatre

I just got back from seeing Bill freakin' Cosby in downtown Syracuse. Good times. Allow me to recount the night's events so the post about retards who shit on toilet seats isn't at the top of the blog all weekend.

I headed down to the student center around 6:45 to catch one of the buses the school provided, and I was lucky enough to get a seat rather than standing in the aisle like a bunch of people who got on later. I was by myself, as usual, but I spotted my roommate from freshman year sitting a few seats down and said hi to him, so...hooray for taking the initiative, I guess. The fact that I consider something that small an accomplishment says a lot about my life up to this point.


The bus ride was rather uneventful, as those tend to be. After about 10 minutes (it was only about a two mile trip, but traffic was heavy), we arrived at the Landmark Theatre.

This place is nice. I wish I had pictures, but I didn't think to bring my phone because...well, nobody ever calls me. Just check out their website and you'll get the idea.

My seat was in the balcony, so I went up what had to be no less than six flights of stairs from the lobby, did the whole "hand the ticket to the usher" thing, and was directed to my seat, which was actually pretty close to the front and only one seat away from the aisle. Convenient. Thanks to the aforementioned website, I do have a picture of the exact seat I was in, which I have helpfully pointed out here:


Ah, good ol' J-22. It didn't have enough legroom (my knees were sore by the end of the show), but it served its purpose well.

After sitting there for a good 25 minutes, at least 10 of which included the girl to my right talking on her cell phone, I went exploring and found out that I had actually climbed about twice as many stairs as I needed to in order to get to my seat (I had gone all the way to the back row, and as you can see, that's not where I was sitting). I'm not sure how I missed that. I also checked out the bathroom and got trapped in one of the stalls for a few seconds because there wasn't enough room to open the door. Why is everything in that place so damn small?

And now, the part of this post that actually reviews something. Woohoo!

The show started with a couple people from student organizations tooting their own horns about how much they've done for the university, followed by a somewhat bizarre song and dance performance from members of Omega Psi Phi. If you've seen the movie "Drumline," think of the part where the dudes at the party are dancing, but add R&B style lyrics about how great the fraternity is. In any other setting, this might have been entertaining, but I paid $10 to see Bill Cosby tell jokes, not watch frattards dance.

After this, the lights went down for a few minutes while the stage was set up, then more people came to the podium and delivered smarmy "look how much we do for you ungrateful fucks" remarks before finally introducing Bill Cosby and bringing him out.

The Cosby performance was interesting. He started out by sitting down in a chair at the center of the stage and kicking his shoes off, then saying something about being old. He actually sat for most of the night, making it a little less "stand-up" than usual, but considering who we're talking about here, it somehow seemed more appropriate.

The routine was structured around a single story of his daughter applying for college, going there and getting mediocre grades, then graduating. This story took a full two hours to tell.

Doesn't sound very funny or interesting, does it?

However, the genius of this is that he used certain moments in the story to go off on massive tangents about a huge variety of subjects. In fact, he took so long on some stories that he occasionally forgot what he had been talking about, although that may have been just a part of his act.

A few of my favorite moments:

- His impression of someone under the influence of marijuana: "I'm thinking of building a house on skates...then we can...get away from tornadoes...and then we'll come back."

- He spent some time explaining that mothers are more attached to their children because children come out of their bodies, while the father doesn't really do that much. He then acted out the difference through various gestures, one of which was rowing an invisible boat. I'll let you figure that one out.

- Cosby on parenting (slightly paraphrased): "We didn't have 'time-out.' You would just...hit the kid! And then eventually someone goes *makes traditional "T" symbol with his hands* 'okay, time-out!'"

- He said that his daughter makes her son stand in the corner for two minutes for time-out, because he's two years old. His response (also slightly paraphrased): "Don't tell my wife about this. I'll...I'll be dead. *switches to a detective-like tone* 'You can see here where he tried to hold on...he ripped off some wallpaper...'"

- "My mother sent my father to beat me, and he didn't even know what I did. I don't even think he knew my name!"

- He claims that he got his daughter into college by calling the university president, introducing himself (complete with Fat Albert voice for proof of identity), then asking if the school would be needing a hospital in the near future.

- Old people point a lot when they talk because they're trying to buy time after forgetting what they were going to say. Also, "senior moment" is an inaccurate term because they sometimes last four or five days.

- The organ music at his daughter's college graduation ceremony was meant to cover up the sound of students vomiting. This joke was made funnier by his impression of both the organ player and the puking graduates.

I think that's enough. You get the point. Interestingly, although there were a few "big laugh" moments such as these, the routine mostly caused what I would call a steady chuckle. I think I laughed a lot less on average than at the improv shows I've gone to (one of which was so funny that it actually caused me to have an asthma attack) or the shows by Dane Cook and Jim Breuer freshman year, but those were more "wait for the punchline and laugh really hard" experiences, while this performance pretty much involved laughing at different levels for two hours straight.

Part of this was probably due to Bill Cosby's style, of course. He kind of rambles and dances around the point for a while, saying one word at a time and making you think that maybe he forgot what he was talking about, then he fires off a bunch of punchlines at once, often aided by gestures and funny voices. The dude has energy, but he hides it well, if that makes sense. He did seem to go overboard on the "funny noises and actions instead of words" thing a couple times, but overall, it was pretty good.

Also, I think I would have enjoyed the show a lot less had there not been two giant screens behind him so those of us in the cheap seats could see his face up close. A lot of times, a single facial expression or small gesture will be the punchline to a five minute story, and he really pulls this off well.

After the show, I took a bus back to campus, but I wasn't so lucky with seating this time, and I ended up standing near one of the doors surrounded by other people, one of whom felt it necessary to elbow me every five seconds for the first part of the trip as he shuffled around his phone and a sweatshirt. It was like being on a subway in Japan...or at least I imagine that's what that's like.

Anyway, that's about it. Cosby is a funny guy, and I think he's the most famous celebrity I've ever seen in person, so...that's something.

Posted by CD at 12:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack