Besides the obvious “making people laugh” bit, one of comedy’s biggest contributions to society at large is the ability to speak truth to power. Couched in humor, comedians can address subjects that would otherwise be too disturbing for the average person to think about, like how the Jell-O pudding man has been accused of rape.
That’s what comedian Hannibal Buress did last week during a set at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, where he talked about both Cosby’s self-appointed moral police status and the sexual assault allegations brought against Cosby in 2006:
“It’s even worse because Bill Cosby has the fucking smuggest old black man public persona that I hate. He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the 80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches. ‘I don’t curse onstage.’ Well, yeah, you’re rapist, so I’ll take you saying lots of motherfuckers on Bill Cosby: Himself, if you weren’t a rapist. I don’t know what I’m doing by telling you. I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns.”
Buress is referring to a case where Cosby settled out of court with a woman who claimed he had drugged her and sexually assaulted her at his home two years earlier. The woman’s lawyer alleged at the time to have 13 other victims willing to testify against Cosby for similar crimes. Cosby has denied the charges.
Buress went on to encourage audience members to go home and Google “Bill Cosby rape,” a search that leads to some deeply unsettling Newsweek interviews like this one and this one with alleged victims. “That shit has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress’,” Buress joked, an assertion that is actually not true, now that the two are forever joined in search-result purgatory.