“First of all, thank you,” 73-year-old Bill Cosby said to the audience before starting his routine with some cold weather jokes.
Cosby’s show in Kitchener was his first show since November when the entertainer saw at least 10 performances get cancelled on his North American tour.
Like his last show in Melbourne, Florida on November 21 there were no disruptions during the performance and the crowd laughed throughout.
Bill Cosby says he had a “wonderful time” and received a standing ovation from Canadian fans at his first show following a string of cancellations after sexual assault allegations from more than 15 women.
Protesters braved below-freezing weather to shame the ticket-holders and are likely to do so again at the second of three performances in Ontario on Thursday.
Ticket holders had to negotiate a barrier of television cameras and a network of cables snaking along the slippery pavement and a small but determined band of protesters wielding signs with such slogans as Rape Is No Joke as they braved a wind-chill of –30 C.
One woman, who refused to be named, shouted “shame on you” again and again at passing ticket holders.
The small protest didn’t seem to deter many heading into the 2,000-seat Kitchener venue though, with many saying they believed Cosby was innocent until proven guilty.
On stage, an image of Cosby with anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was projected onto a screen. The staging was simple: a chair with a T-shirt draped over the back with the caption, “Hello Friend.” A simple table with a bottle of water and a glass and a box of tissues was nearby, a waste bin tucked discreetly underneath, all set on a Persian-style carpet.
Cosby strolled on stage wearing an oversize sweatshirt with the same “Hello Friend” logo, a pair of track pants and a pair of comfortable shoes he could easily slip in and out of.
For the next hour and 45 minutes, Cosby spoke effortlessly in his trademark deliberate style, muffling an occasional cough.
The laughter was steady and constant through what was nearly a sold-out show, though empty seats were not hard to spot. From time to time, people stepped outside, some of whom didn’t return.
As the end of the set neared, Cosby returned to our weather. Are there laws that force Canadians to live here, he wondered disingenuously.
“As soon as you’re allowed out, there are nicer places,” he jibed.