GREAT BARRINGTON -- Let's face it: When one is about to see any performer dubbed "legendary" there is always a bit of trepidation.
That's because, in some cases, "legendary" means, "been around too long," or "should be retired."
Fortunately, such was certainly not the case on Sunday night at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center where legendary comedian Bill Cosby entertained a sold-out house.
Yes, "The Cos," is 76. And has plied his trade for almost 50 years. But to these eyes, who have seen Cosby before, there was little, if any slippage in his act.
The timing was impeccable, the rubbery facial expressions hilarious and the material was as sharp as ever.
Cosby tours regularly, and he is playing a number of Eastern venues this fall. The Mahaiwe show was actually a benefit performance to honor builder Lou Allegrone, the principal reason the Mahaiwe is not only still standing, but perhaps more sound than it has been in decades.
Allegrone was presented with a framed picture of the theater and a seat in the theater was adorned with his name in perpetuity.
Cosby delivered a one hour and 40-minute set that featured his iconic storytelling comedic method.
That entails meandering (but not rambling!) stories, mostly observational, almost exclusively personal.
It is not the rat-a-tat delivery of a Chris Rock or a Jerry Seinfeld. But that is, in the eyes of his fans, the charm.
The stories are peppered with jokes, and build up to a usually hilarious punchline. Cosby brought down the house several times on Sunday. There was a gentleman a few seats to my right that was laughing so hard he was having trouble catching his breath.
It is difficult to condense these stories into representative examples. Cosby, for example, riffed gently for about 15 minutes on Allegrone and his family.
"I heard tonight that Lou has a seat in his name in this theater," said Cosby. "Lou, I'm sorry, but you'll never be able to sit in that seat. Your wife will sit in that seat, your kids will sit in that seat, their in-laws will sit in that seat. You? You will be off to the side somewhere."
The whole riff was brilliant, and, of course, about as fresh as one could wish for. The theatergoer who expected "Far Albert" or "chicken heart" jokes may have been disappointed. Cosby always tries to keep his material crisp.
Cosby's observational universe revolves around his family. On Sunday, for example, he recalled a trip to Saint Tropez and a visit to one of the island's topless beaches.
"I learned," he said, "About a woman's peripheral vision. My wife wasn't looking at me, but she was watching me."
He also recalled his entry into the Navy as a young man.
"The recruiter asked me if I wanted to join the Navy to see the world," he said. "And I said, ‘No, I'm joining because my mother warned me about serving my country in soiled underwear. The Navy was the best way to avoid doing so.' "
There are, of course, a lot of jokes about his relationship with his wife, Camille.
"When we go to the supermarker, she drives," he said. "And when we park, I don't get out unless she unlocks the passenger side door. If she doesn't let me out, I stay in the car. And chat with the dogs that pass by."
"We've been married 49 years," he told the audience," and next year it will be 50."
When a murmur of approval rose up from the theater, Cosby raised an eyebrow and noted, "Well, that's the number that usually follows 49 in these situations."
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