Bill Cosby jokes woman should be careful drinking around him
Published Thursday, January 8, 2015 7:56AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 8, 2015 10:35PM EST
Bill Cosby’s comedy show in London Ont., was momentarily halted Thursday night when a man heckled the entertainer, calling him a rapist.
Cosby was in the middle of his stand-up act at Budweiser Gardens – the second of Cosby’s three Canadian gigs -- when the man started shouting. The crowd booed the individual, but Cosby urged the audience not to respond.
“No, no stop,” Cosby said. “No clapping right now. That’s all right. Patience.”
A police officer removed the man from the theatre, at which point the audience applauded.
It wasn’t the only disruption during Cosby’s routine. Minutes earlier, a woman in the front row got up and walked past the stage. When Cosby asked where she was going, she said that she was heading to the lobby to grab a drink.
Cosby responded, prompting laughter from the audience: “You have to be careful about drinking around me.”
In a statement released after Thursday’s show, Cosby briefly referred to the heckling incident.
“One outburst but over 2,600 loyal, patient and courageous fans enjoyed the most wonderful medicine that exist for human-kind. Laughter.”
Cosby also thanked the venue’s theatre staff, event organizers and the community for their support. The comedian ended the statement saying he’s “far from finished.”
More than 15 women have come forward in recent months, saying Cosby drugged or sexually assaulted them, or both. Cosby’s lawyer has denied many of the allegations, and the entertainer has never been criminally charged in connection with any of the alleged incidents.
The allegations prompted local organizations to call for the cancellation of Cosby’s Canadian tour dates, but promoters said they’re contractually obligated to go ahead with the performances.
Instead, hundreds of protesters gathered to demonstrate outside the London, Ont. venue.
Some carried signs and shouted “shame on you” to ticket-holders.
Protesters began gathering at the venue nearly two hours before show time.
Inside, security was tight as attendees’ bags were searched. Budweiser Gardens also enforced a zero electronics policy as the show got underway.
Karen Ann Bridge was among the protesters outside. The 50-year-old woman had bought tickets to the London show but decided not to attend after a litany of sexual assault allegations against Cosby surfaced.
“I don’t think I could ever watch a show from now without that being at the back of my mind,” Bridge told The Canadian Press. “These are just allegations but they still don’t sit with me well … women don’t lie about these things.”
On Wednesday, Cosby took the stage in Kitchener while demonstrators outside carried signs and shouted at ticket-holders arriving for the show.
It was a stark contrast inside the venue, as the comedian drew laughter, cheers and a standing ovation from the audience during a nearly two-hour set.
Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s centre told CTV’s News Channel Thursday that the organization had joined with a local Unifor group to hold a “peaceful” protest outside Budweiser Gardens.
Walker said Cosby may face hecklers during the London show.
She said her organization has been in contact with ticket-holders who tried to return their tickets, but were denied a refund.
“Some of them are choosing to go inside and protest, whether it be they’re standing up and turning their back on Mr. Cosby and walking out or heckling,” Walker said, adding her organization is “not involved in that part of the protest.”
In the weeks leading up to the Canadian tour dates, Walker and other local women’s groups had been calling on organizers to cancel the shows.
Walker said with the show now upon them, protesters are trying to “shift the dialogue” away from Cosby to “the shoulders of those women” and raise awareness about men’s violence against women.
“We know that when women feel supported by their communities that they are more likely to come forward and disclose sexual violence in their lives and reach out for help and that’s our goal tonight,” Walker said.
She also said that some ticket-holders have chosen to hand over their non-refundable tickets to the London Abused Women’s Centre in a symbolic show of solidarity.
Cosby is slated to perform his final Canadian show in Hamilton, Ont., on Friday.
With files from CTV London’s Cristina Howorun and The Canadian Press