Cosby brings his sweaters to Heinz Hall

Lively jazz filled Heinz Hall Saturday night as the audience filled seats in anticipation for Bill Cosby. A grandfatherly faded sweatshirt with “Hello Friend” in colorfully stitched lettering was draped over an arm chair that welcomed the audience before Cosby even stepped on stage.

Cosby, 69, walked on stage followed by audience members: an older gentleman, a 20-to-30-something, and three children ages 14, 12, and 11. Speaking to each of them for a little while, Cosby cracked jokes about their observations, a type of humor that was to define the entire comedy routine.

Continuing to improvise, Cosby brought up a couple that had just celebrated their 50-year wedding anniversary. Remembering how her husband had proposed to her, the wife recalled that he had wanted to go “park” afterwards. After several more hilarious observations of married life in the question-and-answer format, Cosby ended their stint in the limelight by inviting the couple to go backstage, where a bed with rose petals was set up and a salad with little blue “croutons” was available for the husband.

Cosby gave his philosophy on marriage, “Marriage is closer to a game of chess than war.... The queen moves all over the board ... the king sits there trying to get out of the way, ... looking for help, ... [and] the queen is getting rid of all his friends.”

During one of his interactions with an audience member, the man to whom Cosby was speaking responded with a gaffe. With the audience laughing, Cosby turned to his wife, “Why are you laughing? You’re with him!”

Cosby also asked the audience for a definition of children, ultimately giving his own: beggars. Cosby observed how remarkable it is that children go to college claiming to want to get away from their parents and be independent. These same children, he said, then come back after getting their college degree, and that it’s usually Mom who lets them back in the house.

Although a senior citizen by age, Cosby’s mind is as active and his humor as spirited as a person half his age. With years of experience behind him, Cosby transitioned between new topics and old, referring back to earlier topics with ease. While talking directly to audience members, Cosby was able to turn their innocuous answers to his questions into several-minute bits. Cosby’s keen intellect didn’t stop him from cracking an Alzheimer’s joke at his own expense.

Cosby’s comedy focuses largely upon the family. His take on marriage, peppered with examples of his own relationship with his wife, comprised most of his material. Connecting with the largely middle-aged audience, Cosby addressed the differences between men and women, who really rules at home, and how Mom and Dad interact with their children.

Carnegie Mellon students who are married, plan to marry, or plan to have children can get a leg up on the married life by listening to Cosby. He does not bring up the light-hearted truths he so naturally preaches. Rather, his directed questions at audience members pushed his material forward in an eerily regular manner, showcasing that the general truths of life do not differ much from family to family.

Perhaps the best advice came from one of the audience members. When Cosby asked him for a word of wisdom from his 50 years of marriage, the man responded, “Work hard and save your money.” Cosby quipped, “What’s love got to do with it?”