Monday, January 26, 2009


It was a Friday night, in early 1964.

At the NBC studios in 30 Rock, a tall, athletic, and, as the audience would soon discover, hilarious graduate of Temple University awaited his cue.

Host Jack Paar, one of the most gifted conversationalists and most emotional performers in broadcast history, introduced the young comedian, with a gentle welcome and an emphatic endorsement.

As the band played ,the confident entertainer, fresh from playing hip, but small nightclubs like Mr. Kelly's in Chicago and the Gas Light in his home town of Philadelphia, strided across the studio's slick, grey floor.He hit his mark, under hot lights and in front of a hulking, RCA color camera.A few hundred people filled the bleachers.

In just a few moments of vivid, human, honest comedy, Bill Cosby found his place in our culture and in our hearts.

His record albums,filled with band after band of personal and anecdotal comedy, would break sales records and win awards.

The opportunity to become the first African-American male to star in a network, dramatic series, the groundbreaking I Spy, was still a few months away.

Honing his observational routines, Bill Cosby would move quickly from small clubs in the village to showrooms on the Vegas Strip.

But on that Friday night, in that moment and in similar, subsequent appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace, he would forge the skills to become, in my view, America's most successful, respected and beloved humorist since Mark Twain.

In the intervening years, The Cosby Show brought us laughter and insight, while saving the sitcom genre and the NBC Television Network.

Bill Cosby has influenced a generation of comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Ray Romano.

To this day, he remains the nation's pre-eminent monologist

Here is a rare clip of an early appearance on Jack Paar's primetime, talk/variety series. Enjoy!!!!!!

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