When Bill Cosby spoke from the heart at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Saturday night, it was appropriate, considering the event was a benefit for the Save-A-Heart Foundation. But when he spoke from the stomach, he got the night's biggest belly laughs.
For 110 uninterrupted minutes, the famous TV comedian paid tribute to all the fatty foods that make him happy, if not healthy. The cholesterol levels were ex- ceeded only by the volume of laughter as Mr. Cosby described what it's like to be a male menopause-afflicted 55-year-old who is constantly told to change his dietary habits.
Going on the offensive, he celebrated his grease-filled youth. "Grease was everywhere and I loved it. Old people told me it stuck to my ribs -- and it did, I guess," he said. "I was brought up on these things and I behaved. I ate them all."
The list of now-verboten favorites includes salt, butter, whipped cream, sugar (as in white sugar), pork, and the barbecued ribs of any animal. And when Bill Cosby mentions milk, he does not mean skim milk: "I can only imagine that the cow that gives skim milk looks like Don Knotts."
He acknowledged that fatty foods were responsible for the history of strokes on his mother's side of the family, but just as quickly added that these people enjoyed every minute of their shortened lives. The best case in point was one aunt, of whom he said: "Even in a coma, this woman would eat fried chicken."
Nowadays, Mr. Cosby lamented, his doctors and his wife are trying to change his dietary ways. So he finds himself becoming a sneak and a liar. Because his wife stocks the refrigerator with sorbet, he feels compelled to sneak out of the house late at night to buy coffee-flavored ice cream. Oh, how he loves real ice cream, which he praises as "a small pint of what I feel is truly God's work."
Admittedly, he feels slightly guilty on reading the list of ingredients on the pint container, but after drinking some water he always thinks better of the matter: "There's a lot of fat, but the eight glasses of water mixed with all that fat ought to neutralize something."
When his wife asks him in a mother-to-child tone of voice, "Have you been eating ice cream?," he does what any happily married man does in such a situation. He answers "no."
Before launching into his clog-a-heart comic spiel, Mr. Cosby was introduced by Merry-Go-Round honcho Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass, who seized the opportunity to do a little stand-up comedy of his own. Mr. Weinglass observed that both of them are pursuing birds: Mr. Cosby has been trying to purchase the NBC peacock along with the rest of the network and Mr. Weinglass is after the Baltimore Orioles.
The program also included honorary awards to WJZ-TV co-anchor Denise Koch and developer James W. Rouse. And in the spirit of things, Save-A-Heart president Jeffrey Pritzker offered thanks "from the bottom of our hearts" to all those who made the event possible.
Not only did the audience eat up Mr. Cosby's routine, but those staying for a post-show lobby reception with Ms. Koch and Mr. Rouse indulged in sinfully rich desserts that sent cholesterol levels soaring.