by Ryan Meehan
On November 26th, Comedy Central records will release “Far From Finished”, a two disc set from comedy legend Bill Cosby. The Cos is a legend in his own right, a true television star who became associated with the medium when he first appeared in “I Spy” back in 1965. But the most amazing thing about Bill Cosby is that it took him three times to really nail his own sitcom.
Believe it or not the history of “The Cosby Show” started with a situation comedy in 1969 called “The Bill Cosby Show” where Bill played a physical education teacher in an LA high school. After two seasons, the show went off of the air because of an argument Cosby had over the laugh track with NBC. But just a year and a half later, he was on TV again at the same network with “The New Bill Cosby Show”. It only lasted one season due to poor ratings.
But the third time was a charm, and 1984’s version of “The Cosby Show” was a huge success. Running on the same night as the show Cheers (a program that I believe is the best in the history of television) “The Cosby Show” nailed it with all demographics and dominated the ratings.
So it wasn’t easy. And along the way he has really done everything he can to speak high praise about the working class ethos that he was raised in. He used his pedestal to talk you younger kids about the dangers of drugs and work other social issues into his comedy show. Think of him as the black Kirk Cameron, only talented.
Cosby has come under fire at of late for some of his criticism of the vernacular a lot of young people use. And in my opinion, he’s right. However, he’s probably not going to win over a lot of young fans. This group of people is what I call “Generation YT”.
Generation YT is the term I use to describe those individuals who are between the ages of 14 and 26, and the YT stand for “Youtube”. In other words, most of the people in this age group have grown up in a world where a large portion of their lives have been broadcast via online video.
Bill speaks at a slower pace and tells stories in the form of what isn’t really as fast as the way young people absorb media. It comes off as being very preachy at times and it seems like a lot of his work assumes that his viewpoint is the only way of looking at things.
This album is a two disc set. The first record has six tracks on it, and it’s almost 80 minutes long. So you can understand why it might be a problem with younger comedy fans. People in this age group don’t have the greatest attention span in world history to say the very least.
It’s very important to remember that this is not what I would call “comedy club” standup comedy. Bill’s work is in theaters now, and it likely will be for the rest of his life. He’s not one to be holding the microphone like the guys that are touring the country every night in their thirties and forties.
That said, his storytelling abilities are still great – It’s just much different from club comedy. It’s theater work and it’s a method of storytelling that works with people between 48 and 82 years of age. If you’re not in that age group, a lot of this stuff is going to feel like it’s over your head. Almost all of the material is about parenting and marriage, and I’ve made no secret that I’m not a fan. Since people who aren’t parents don’t fully get the jokes, I don’t feel that’s fair to them. But then again, that isn’t the type of comedy fan that Bill Cosby is looking to have enjoy his work. I thought a very large portion of this disc was completely difficult to understand because I don’t have a marriage license. A lot of it is Cosby talking about him doing whatever his wife says, which kind of gets to be the opposite of funny at points. At times it’s almost bordering on being depressing, but here again maybe I just don’t get the jokes.
I do really have a lot of respect for Bill Cosby and what he does. He’s seventy-six years old, and it’s impressive that he’s still cranking out shows and that’s pretty awesome. However, this in no way is along the lines of “Himself” or anything else like that. There are some funny anecdotes and it’s quality stuff, but the overall pace issue takes precedent.
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