It’s Bill Cosby‘s 75th birthday, and IQ chooses to celebrate by taking a walk through some of the comedian’s most memorable (and controversial) quotes over a decades-long career, reminding us all why we like the funny man so much (Jell-O pudding notwithstanding).
“As I have discovered by examining my past, I started out as a child. Coincidentally, so did my brother. My mother did not put all her eggs in one basket, so to speak: she gave me a younger brother named Russell, who taught me what was meant by “survival of the fittest.”
Bill Cosby got his start as a stand-up comedian, but got his first major break outside of performing when he starred in NBC’s “I Spy” in 1965, marking him as the first African-American performer to star in a prime-time television drama. Though the show was an uncontested hit, Cosby stayed close to comedy. In the 1970s, Cosby earned new fame with “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” a show that ran between 1972 and 1985 with over 100 episodes produced. The animated program was a semi-autobiographical take on Cosby’s youth, centered on Albert and his gang of friends. The show is probably best known in popular culture for Albert’s catchphrase “Hey, hey, hey!”
“Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.”
The 1980’s brought Cosby even more success with “The Cosby Show,” which ran from 1984 to 1992 through eight seasons and over 200 episodes. According to TV Guide, the show, based on Cosby’s stand-up routines, “was TV’s biggest hit in the 1980s, and almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre and NBC’s ratings fortunes.” The show eventually spawned a spin-off titled “A Different World,” which ran from 1897 to 1993.
“What do I need if I am a child today? I need people to guide me. I need the possibility of change. I need people to stop saying I can’t pull myself up by my own bootstraps. They say that’s a myth. But these other people have their mythical stories — why can’t we have our own?”
He still performs stand-up routines to this day, refusing to retire, and is looked up to by younger comedians, notes the Daily Press. He has also spoken on many social issues at hand in America – not exclusively African-American issues, though he does often speak on race relations – and speeches of Cosby’s with a political tone are often controversial. When he speaks on social issues, he speaks with true, authentic authority – his only son Ennis (who inspired the character of “Theo” on “The Cosby Show” was murdered in Los Angeles 15 years ago while changing a tire.
“These are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake,” said Cosby in his infamous 2004 “Pound Cake” speech. “Then we all run out and are outraged: ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?”
“My problem is I’m tired of losing to white people. When I say I don’t care about white people, I mean let them say what they want to say,” said Cosby while addressing his alma mater, the University of Massachusetts. “What can they say to me that’s worse than what their grandfather said?”
“We are not a pitiful race of people. We are a bright race, who can move with the best. But we are in a new time, where people are behaving in abnormal ways and calling it normal,” said Cosby, speaking at Detroit’s St. Paul Church in 2007. When they used to come into our neighborhoods, we put the kids in the basement, grabbed a rifle, and said, ‘By any means necessary.'”
Perhaps Bill Cosby’s most memorable routine is a simple 10-minute monologue about trying to feed his kids a nutritious breakfast, according to MSNBC. You know, the one where he wants to give his kids eggs but they ask for chocolate cake instead? I’d love to keep going, but that would spoil the fun (don’t worry, a video is embedded below – see it for yourself).
So how does Mr. Cosby feel about turning 75? Thanks to Twitter (of which Cosby is an avid user) we were able to pull his exact reaction to another year in the life of the Cos. His bittersweet and deeply poignant reflection on 75 years of life betrays a deep, nuanced wisdom on the part of the comedian:
On turning 75, some people . . . do this everyday . . . and some don’t.
— Bill Cosby (@BillCosby) July 12, 2012
So happy 75th birthday, Bill Cosby. We here at IQ send you nothing but well-wishes. [insert sub-par Jello-O pudding reference here]
The hilarious “chocolate cake” routine: