It looks like 2018 is going to get worse before it gets betters. Case and point: Bill Cosby. The disgraced comedian emerged from exile Monday, when he performed standup in Philadelphia. It was Cosby's first time on stage since his career imploded amid dozens of sexual assault allegations.
Cosby was on hand to honor jazz musician Tony Williams. Dressed in his signature "Hello Friend" sweatshirt and jeans, Cosby sat on a stool and made friendly banter with the audience. "I used to be a comedian," he told the bass player's 11-year-old son, according to the Associated Press. NBC 10 Philadelphia asked if he had some comments about his upcoming retrial and decided to respond despite the best efforts of his handlers. “No ma’am,” he told the reporter. “I came here tonight to enjoy being with my friends and musicians and the people who came.”
Cosby spent most of the set poking fun at his diminished eyesight. “Let me tell you something about people talking to blind people, you sighted people,” he joked. “If you see a blind person walking into a pole or something, if you speak perfect English, there’s a word called ‘Stop!’ Not ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!’" He also joined the band to offer some musical assistance on the drums. At various points throughout his one-hour set, Cosby gave loving shout-outs to his wife Camille and his daughter. Clubgoers were friendly and even greeted him after the show for pictures.
Now, you may be wondering: why now? Well, according to his spokesman, Cosby's intention was “to honor his fans with a historic performance.” Based on the show's sparse crowd, "historic" is a bit of a misnomer. Check out a brief clip of Cosby's performance courtesy of NPR staffer Bobby Allyn.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania prosecutors are gearing for Cosby's retrial on sexual assault charges. The comedian is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University coach Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia home in 2004 (though he maintains their encounter was consensual). Cosby was temporarily let off the hook when jurors failed to reach a verdict in the initial trial last year. In that proceeding, prosecutors asked to call 13 other accusers, but only one was permitted to testify.
Cosby now has a brand new team of lawyers and is expected to once again plead not guilty. Jury selection for the retrial will start March 29 and will be selected from a pool of local Philadelphia residents. The retrial will take place on April 2. Leading up to the proceedings, Cosby’s team has been keeping his social media accounts active with photos of him visiting local Philadelphia shops and cafes while sporting Philadelphia Eagles gear.
To date, approximately 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, dating all the way back to the mid-1960s. Cosby has denied the charges.