Comedian Bill Cosby shares personal stories with packed performance hall

The stage contained only a chair, table, sweater, rug, box of tissues and glass water bottle when an iconic comedian appeared at UCA on Sept. 26.

Bill Cosby performed to 1,172 ticket holders at a sold-out show in Reynolds Performance Hall.

Cosby’s 100-minute performance most resembled stand-up comedy, despite remaining seated throughout the evening. During his time on stage, Cosby shared humorous and insightful stories concerning love, marriage, Viagra and the Bible.

Audience reaction to his “An Evening with Bill Cosby: 50 Years of Making You Laugh, Smile, and Feel Good” performance was positive.

Ashley Love, Reynolds Performance Hall finance and marketing director, said mass appeal made this performance unique from past shows.

“The tagline says it all,” Love said. “When I told my grandmother about this show, she was excited. When I told my mother, she was excited too. And, now I’m standing here freaking out too.”

Cosby’s work in entertainment has spanned three generations, making him one of America’s most beloved comedians. Cosby has also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Cosby is known for his comedy routines and numerous television shows, books and cartoons.

“It was great to be able to see a comedic legend,” junior Brittney Behr said. “It felt like you were just talking to him in his home.”

A purple sweater that draped over Cosby’s chair read “Hello Friend” in multi-color lettering, accompanied by UCA’s logo. As part of Cosby’s agreement to perform, he requested the custom-made sweater.

The sweater is meant to commemorate his son, Ennis Cosby, who was shot to death during an attempted robbery in 1997. “Hello, friend,” was Ennis’ catchphrase. Ennis frequently used the greeting in conversation. The sweater remained on stage throughout the entire show, although Cosby never referenced it in his performance.

The UCA Bookstore donated a head-to-toe UCA outfit for Cosby to wear himself. Cosby also wore a UCA hat, hoodie and sweatpants.

An estimated 200 UCA students were in attendance for Cosby’s performance, with many giving rave reviews afterward.

Senior Stephanie Schiller said, “He was hilarious and worth every second.”

According to Reynolds Performance Hall staff, hype surrounding the performance was unlike any other event in the past. Tickets sold out for the show the same day they were released to the public. So fast, in fact, that many students were unsuccessful in securing tickets.

Sophomore Jimmy Martin said he was disappointed that tickets sold out so quickly.

“I know a lot of my friends and I were really excited when he was announced for this semester,” Martin said.

Reynolds Performance Hall’s next performance is Lightwire Theater’s “The Ugly Duckling & the Tortoise and the Hare” at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. The performance uses cutting-edge lighting technology and moving sculptures to retell Hans Christian Andersen’s classic stories for audiences of all ages.

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