The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 8, 2013

Cosby reflects on comedy, life and family

JOHNSTOWN — Legendary performer Bill Cosby is many things – a comedian, author, grandfather, Navy veteran and doctor (on TV and in real life). But beneath all these aspects of the man lies his true vocation: A captivating storyteller.

Generations have grown up with his name floating across the airwaves – either on primetime television, in the Saturday morning cartoon block or on their parents’ old vinyls. His material resonates with audiences everywhere for their “slice-of-life” quality.

And, for the first time in years, he’ll be making a Johnstown appearance – on Wednesday night at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

And he will bring something everyone wants to hear – a good story.

“Viewing something and feeling that it is funny became a part of writing, styling it and delivering it,” Cosby said of the process behind developing his early material. “So we would have something in the form of Superman changing clothes in a phone booth and a cop coming up and asking him why he’s taking his clothes off in a phone booth.

“Writing would take me to Junior Barnes and the ‘slush’ snowball – real life,” he said.

In real life, the 75-year-old Philadelphia native has raised five children with his wife of almost 50 years, the former Camille Hanks.

When they met, Hanks was studying child psychology at the University of Maryland.

Cosby was majoring in physical education at Temple University and had just taken his first steps toward the stage, drawing some laughs – and notoriety – at a bar in Washington, D.C.

“The identification (that I could do comedy) came before I even wanted to address show business and that came at Temple University,” he said.

Cosby did quit college in the early ’60s, however, to chase those laughs on stage as well as the small screen before returning to complete his degree. He had come to realize the value of higher education, and now he holds more than a dozen honorary doctorates from several of the country’s most prestigious universities.

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