On Monday night, Bill Cosby took a break from making #MeToo jokes over pasta to do a comedy set in Philadelphia, his first public performance since dozens of women accused the actor of drugging and sexually assaulting them.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Cosby was added last-minute to perform at the LaRose Jazz Club, where he kicked off the set by sitting in with the band and scatting a little bit before hopping on the drums. A crowd of about 50 people in the 80-year-old's hometown looked on while he stumbled through a vaguely Bossanova-sounding number.
He eventually made his way to a stool on the stage, where he riffed on losing his eyesight, reminisced about his childhood, and spoke about his wife and daughter. At one point, he brought up an 11-year-old boy, who, when asked if he knew who the actor was, said that Cosby "used to be a comedian." And, for some weird reason, Cosby kept a jar of peaches next to him on a chair throughout the entire set.
Cosby steered clear of mentioning his fall from grace at the gig, but he's been on a bizarre publicity tour ahead of his retrial on sexual assault charges in April. Last week, the celebrity invited the press to watch him eat at an Italian restaurant, and he's hit up a few other local haunts with cameras in tow—a shift from his previous plan to go on a nationwide speaking tour to talk to young men and athletes about what "can be considered sexual assault."
"He's reintroducing himself as that old comedian, that funny guy," David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told NPR. "He is that hometown person who we all knew and loved, and that's how he wants to be thought of now."
Cosby faces three counts of aggravated incident assault for allegedly drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004, which could land him in prison for up to ten years. His first stint in court ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked, and he tapped a new, all-star legal team for round two. But Cosby's prosecutors are coming out swinging: They're hoping to have 19 of his accusers testify at his retrial.
Still, it doesn't look anything is stopping Cosby from trying to return to showbiz.
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