On Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, Bill Cosby returned to the stage for his first comedy performance since 2015. The stand-up comedian has shied away from the spotlight ever since countless women came forward accusing the Philadelphia native of sexual assault. The 80-year-old actor appeared in front of roughly 50 people at the LaRose Jazz Club in Philly alongside the Tony Williams Jazz Quartet. Not surprisingly, his pending trial wasn't mentioned during his set. Instead, he focused on his struggle with blindness and aging.
"You laugh when blind people walk into things. And guess what? Blind people laugh when sighted people fall down," he said. "Ha ha ha ha."
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His reps invited the media to the performance just two hours before it started, so there is currently video footage of the performance. He also performed on the drums during his set. Even though he drew a crowd to his show, many people on Twitter expressed their disgust at his return to the stage. "These people think they will never have consequences at all, it's really sick now to see him even dare be in public," one person wrote. Another added, "If you gave me front row seats to see Bill Cosby I'd burn them. #BillCosby."
Cosby is set to return to trial in April for his retrial for the same charges. He is being charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault stemming from the 2004 accusation that he drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia mansion. Despite his upcoming court date, Cosby seemed unphased while performing onstage.
"He's reintroducing himself as that old comedian, that funny guy. He is that hometown person who we all knew and loved, and that's how he wants to be thought of now," David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh told NPR. "What with the #MeToo movement very strong out there, he needs all the help he can get in terms of public sympathy from any person who might sit on the jury."