Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cosby Gives Fans Relief - with Laughs `I Want to Thank All of You for Your Spirit'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cosby Gives Fans Relief - with Laughs `I Want to Thank All of You for Your Spirit'

Article excerpt

Bill Cosby pulled on a "Hello Friend" sweat shirt and returned to the stage for the first time since his son was killed.

He reminded anxious fans that the purpose of comedy was relief. And then he made them laugh.

When he walked onto the stage Saturday night at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, he cut off a raucous standing ovation with the stern admonition: "Please be seated." Then he talked for several minutes about the tragedy on everyone's mind. Cosby recalled the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy, saying he felt the same numbing emotion when he heard that his only son, Ennis, had been killed. The 59-year-old comedian recalled how the nation came to a halt in November 1963, how television was blanketed with the president's funeral. "I tried to find some cartoons," he said. "The theaters were closed." Even normally garrulous winos were glum, he recalled, until a few started to loosen up and boast to anybody who would listen: "I was a good friend of President Kennedy." The audience laughed nervously. So Cosby encouraged them to relax with an old friend. "This is not difficult for me, because a part of my lifetime has been you all." Cosby's sweat shirt was emblazoned with "Hello Friend," the warm greeting used by 27-year-old Ennis. Cosby said he'd grown to realize that the Jan. 16 slaying was a terrific strain not only on his family but on fans. "I don't mean to sound arrogant, but somebody had to give (fans) a release," he said. "I have to give them a release, because that's what I do for a living. I don't sing." After a pause, he added, "I do sell pudding." He talked proudly of Ennis, a doctoral student and teacher of special-needs students in New York City who was killed as he was changing a tire on a Los Angeles freeway access road. A Child Who Believed Cosby spoke quietly, some sentences trailing off uncompleted as he searched for the right words. …

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