As a child of the ’80s, Bill Cosby was an integral part of my early pop culture life. His seminal sitcom, The Cosby Show was and still is in many ways the standard bearer for the family sitcom. Ratings-wise, even in its waning days in the early ’90s, it still crushes even the more popular sitcoms of today. Watch the show today in syndication and you’ll find that the majority of the jokes still hold up and that Cosby himself is just a comedic delight to watch.
Outside of the show, I was raised on Cosby’s humor, having played two taped versions of his Grammy-winning 1966 comedy album Why is There Air? until they warped. His early comedy specials were staples in my house every time early Comedy Central would re-run them.
So, in short, I have an affinity for Bill Cosby’s comedy. And that was why I was excited to watch his brand new comedy special, the first one in 30 years, called Far From Finished, which airs tonight on Comedy Central.
Sadly, watching Bill Cosby perform stand-up now isn’t as enjoyable as it was when I was young. The jokes are the kind of mildly entertaining, the way your dad or grandpa tells a joke now. You laugh of respect, out of nostalgia, not out of the joke being genuinely funny.
Continuing with the father/grandfather analogy, Cosby, like a patriarch at the Thanksgiving table, recycles a lot of old material and expects it to be as funny as the first time he told it. There are jokes/anecdotes that taken straight from Cosby Show episodes, which is actually pretty glaring if you’ve watched the show enough. The rest of the subject matter, for the most part, is unchanged from material from days gone by.
What would’ve been great is seeing Cosby, a man who has seen the world change so much since he first broke into the comedy world, give us anecdotes about real life experience, telling tales of days of fame gone by, his take on the modern world — both good and bad. For some reason, I wanted to sit under his learning tree and listen to his funny thoughts and witty wisdom. Instead we’re given the a mild “greatest hits” show that’s actually rather boring.
If you enjoy Bill Cosby as a performer and want to revisit a familiar and friendly comedic place, then Far From Finished is a special to check. However, if you’re looking for something fresh and new, then I recommend avoiding this special.