Bill Cosby will be honored tonight with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence at the American Comedy Awards when it airs on NBC at 9 pm ET. But the filming of the awards show went down in New York on April 26, and Laughspin was there to see it. Perhaps more importantly we got to chat with the iconic Bill Cosby on the red carpet before the event started. Dressed in sweats, a stark contrast to the rest of the attendees who were decked in suits, ties and evening gowns, Cosby answered our questions the same way he delivers his comedy—thoughtful and deliberately.
Laughspin assistant editor Billy Procida asked Cosby what he thought of contemporary comedians’ ability to affect social change and mainstream thoughts. Cosby, 76, gave a great answer, which you can watch below in our exclusive video. For your convenience, here’s what Cosby said at the American Comedy Awards in old-fashioned typed-out words. He begins by setting up a scenario of a comedian taking the stage to tell some jokes. Cosby’s idea, it seems, is what if a black comedian didn’t focus most of his comedy on race and race relations.
“A black man comes out and instead of talking about race, starts to talk about karate— and the people laugh,” Cosby tells Laughspin. “Has he caused a difference? Let’s say a black man comes out and starts to talk about the guys in his neighborhood, but he never says what color they are. And then the cartoon series comes and they’re black—and their ratings are stronger than baseball. Was there a difference? It doesn’t have to be that somebody used or didn’t use freedom of speech, because there are some people who misunderstand what Lenny Bruce was really talking about until Lenny just began to find himself being accosted for no particular solid reason, but just to make him the gadfly.”