Motivational comic


POSTED: Friday, January 15, 2010

Bill Cosby's first exposure to Hawaii was the stuff dreams are made of. He stepped off the plane, took a deep breath, and that was it.

“;I was on the track team, running for the Quantico Marines even though I was in the Navy, and we had a track meet in Hawaii,”; Cosby recalled. “;When we landed and they opened the door (of the aircraft) and that Honolulu breeze hit me, I swear to God, my first thought was, 'You don't have to ever work again.' That was the first thing that came to my mind.”;

“;And then to get off of that plane and see those fine women ... holding the leis and putting them around our heads and welcoming us. We went right to the base. We didn't touch another woman after that, except to say goodbye!”;

Cosby has been back to the islands many times since that first brief visit. He returns this week for two shows tonight at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Had Cosby not found his calling as a comedian, he could easily have become an outstanding motivational speaker. Listing to him talk is a stirring experience, whether the subject is his experiences in Hawaii, the importance of personal responsibility or the deeper meanings he found in a photo of a baby crying after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Regarding the photo: “;When I was a kid—I was born in 1937—Japan attacked (Pearl Harbor) and LIFE magazine put out a book of pictures of World War II covering Hawaii, China, Japan, and there was a picture that has always stuck in my mind. The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and this photographer shot a picture of a baby. ... It could sit up, and it is crying (and) it is in the foreground, sitting on the ground, and there is no one around the child.

“;This photograph asks questions, and it gives answers. I don't know where you can find it, but I have it framed and it's in my house. ... I would imagine that if you went on a search, nobody could tell you who the baby was, but (the photo) really speaks volumes on all kinds of questions, and the answers are there.”;

Cosby's recommendation is sufficient reason to start searching for the photo!

MOTIVATING THOUGH he is, Cosby is one of the best-known names in show business. In television, he made history as the first African-American to co-star (with Robert Culp) in a dramatic series, “;I Spy,”; and went on to enjoy a stellar career that he capped with “;The Cosby Show,”; one of the top sitcoms of the '80s.




Bill Cosby:



As a recording artist, he hit the No. 4 position in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967 with “;Little Ole Man (Uptight, Everything's Alright),”; and became one of the first comedians to hit the charts as a singer. As an author and educator, he has published critically acclaimed books on parenting and related topics. And as a comedian, he's been entertaining audiences—black, white, whatever—for more than 45 years.

Although he probably didn't need to do it to be a successful comic, Cosby, a high school dropout, made the time to get his high school equivalency diploma and college degree, then earned a Ph.D. in education. In short, when it comes to “;walking the walk”; about the importance of getting an education, Cosby has not only walked it, he has sprinted it, high-jumped it and completed the Iron Man Triathlon.

Cosby isn't back in Honolulu to lecture on the importance of education or taking personal responsibility for actions and choices. However, one of his recent projects was an imaginative, hard-hitting album, “;Bill Cosby Presents the Cosnarati: State of Emergency,”; which uses contemporary hip-hop and urban music as the platform for delivering his thoughts on the problems that plague many African-American communities—and that plague communities in Hawaii as well.

“;It's not what he's doing to you, it's what you're not doing for yourself,”; Cosby said, summing up the message in a single concise sentence.

Cosby provoked some heated responses in 2004 when he said that it was time—a half-century after Brown v. Board of Education outlawed racial segregation in the United States—for African-Americans to stop blaming slavery or white racism for the problems they created by embracing drugs, violence, sexual promiscuity and the endless search for “;bling”; rather than a good education and strong work ethic.

Critics who said Cosby was out of touch ignored that he personally was the product of a time when strict racial segregation was still the law across the South and in the nation's capitol, when African-Americans faced more subtle forms of racial discrimination elsewhere, and when Nazi-style race laws prohibited interracial marriage in more than half of the 48 states.

Cosby made his own commitment to education and hard work, and overcame obstacles that two or three later generations of Americans never had to deal with.

AND SO, on “;State of Emergency”; he addresses issues such as gang violence, teen pregnancy, drug use, anti-intellectualism, sexual promiscuity, street crime and sexual abuse. Cosby serves as creator and executive producer of the project, working with a production team headed by William “;Spaceman”; Patterson.

Jace the Great, Brother Hahz and Supa Nova Slom are the Cosnarati whose voices tell the stories—good as well as tragic—of children, teens and adults in contemporary America.

Cosby said education and the willingness to take responsibility for your own choices are two of the keys to breaking the cycle of poverty that creates poverty from one generation to the next. Making children aware that better choices exist is another.

“;If your kids have two images in the neighborhood, a pimp and a drug dealer, well, that's where the kid thinks he can go,”; he said. “;But people do have paradigms. There are winning pictures. And when you hear that there's 'no money,' that's when the people should be up in arms. 'There's no money? What can we do? How do we strategize?'

“;That's what our CD is talking about,”; Cosby said. “;We want to build stronger human beings. Let's talk about it. Let's not look away. ... What we're asking people to do is to listen to it and talk about it.”;