THE SHOW "Bill Cosby: Far From Finished"
WHEN|WHERE Saturday at 8 p.m. on Comedy Central
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Bill Cosby, 76, taped this last summer at The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, southeast of Los Angeles. In this, the master speaks about love, engagement, friendship, marriage, talking to oneself, his pal Ed, eating out in New York, chocolate chip cookies, swordsmanship, parenthood and dropping the kids off at school. Yes -- you've heard some of his before, and read it, too, but the material is mostly new.
MY SAY Comedy Central insists "Far From Finished" is Cosby's first television concert special in 30 years, or since his landmark "Bill Cosby, Himself," which directly inspired one of TV's most successful and influential sitcoms. But that ignores "Bill Cosby: 49," his 1987 special about reaching the half-century mark.
The point nevertheless is obvious: It's been a long time since Cos mounted the stage, sat down and offered a live audience his ruminations on love, marriage and the spawn of marriage. The other point is obvious, too: Has it been too long? Directed by Robert Townsend, "Far From Finished" is based on the shrewd and perfectly valid assumption that some things in life are eternal, and one of those happens to be the comedy of Bill Cosby. Watching this is like entering another dimension of time and space, far removed from the lacerating world of standup that Cosby never embraced. His themes remain the same, and even when the audience doesn't know the punchline, they certainly do on some subliminal level.
Cosby's comedy is -- always has been -- the comedy of recognition, in which you are brought around by degrees to seeing yourself. "You thought it was only happening to you, didn't you?" he says. But the magic of this material is that it is entirely specific to Cosby and Cosby alone. The subtext of the entire 63-minute special, in fact, is Camille, his wife of 49 years who is not once mentioned but who nonetheless stars -- shines, even -- behind every word, gesture and observation.
It's homage of the highest form, but comedy of the highest form, too. Cos quite obviously is far from finished.
BOTTOM LINE Wonderful. Really.