Bill Cosby received a standing ovation in his return to the stage Thursday night, for his first performance since being hit with multiple rape and sexual assault allegations over the past two weeks by women who have gone public saying that the once-beloved comedian attacked and abused them in incidents ranging from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Cosby got the standing ovation despite a routine that, bizarrely, appeared to make cryptic or veiled references to the rape allegations surrounding him, when he performed his stand-up comedy act at the famed Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, a top destination for U.S. tourists looking to escape the chill of winter in large parts of North America.
According to accounts of the performance, at one point Cosby declared, “Bill Cosby, you’re an evil man!” and said that parents don’t let him near their children.
The 77-year-old comic, who from 1984 to 1992 ruled the television landscape with his now-iconic Cosby Show sitcom, also made jokes about his flagging sexual relationship with his wife, but cracked that even after being married for 50 years and nearing 80-years-old, there remain “certain things, as a male, you get excited about.”
The references and the swirl of rape allegations simply went in one ear and out the other as far as the crowd of tourists was concerned. The show was reportedly widely enjoyed by the audience, as evidenced by the standing ovation for Cosby.
Outside of such veiled and ambiguous comments as part of his stand-up comedy routine, Cosby has steadfastly refused to say a word about the numerous rape allegations against him. His lawyers have denied the stories on his behalf, and Cosby has never been convicted of a sex offense.
In addition to seven different women now going on the public record to say that Bill Cosby actually raped them, usually drugging them into submission first, in the past two days two other women have said that Cosby sexually assaulted them but stopped short of a penetrative act.
Carla Ferrigno, wife of former Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno, said that Cosby attacked her and forced her to kiss him when she was just a teenager in 1967. And on Friday, a former model and actress said that Cosby forced her to perform a sexual act on him with her hand.
In many of the allegations, Cosby promised to help the young women with their show business careers, or to aid them financially.
Bill Cosby cancelled two television appearances after the rape allegations surfaced, but performing to a live audience on Thursday, he received his standing ovation.