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William "Bill" Henry Cosby (born July 12, 1937) is an American comedian famous for his versatility over his long career; he broke barriers for his fellow African-American entertainers, and was almost unanimously seen by Americans of all walks of life as a role model, earning him the nickname of "America's Dad" — at least until 2014, after news of his crimes came to light.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia projects, Cosby attended Temple University as a physical education major but eventually dropped out to become a standup comedian in the mid-1960s. He was an immediate success, in part because his material — in sharp contrast to most of the black comedians of the day (and today) — was largely apolitical, based instead around Cosby's friends and foibles growing up and the perils of raising his own family, which eventually grew to include five children. Defending this choice, Cosby once noted: "A white person listens to my act and he laughs and he thinks, 'Yeah, that's the way I see it, too.' Okay. He's white. I'm Negro. And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I'm doing as much for good race relations as the next guy."

Success in the clubs led to an impressive string of hit comedy and music albums, including the now-classic To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With and the, er, genesis of the similarly beloved "Noah" routine ("It's The Lord, Noah." "Riiiiight!"). Cosby's second album, I Started Out as a Child (1964), was the first to feature stories about his childhood, which would eventually inspire the Fat Albert cartoon series in the 1970s. These stand-up albums were followed in 1965 by a groundbreaking role alongside Robert Culp in the Spy Fiction dramedy I Spy. It was the first time a black actor had ever starred in a television drama, and it earned Cosby the first Emmys (three total) a black actor had ever received.

Naturally, in 1969, the next step was The Bill Cosby Show — no, not that one, the one that featured Cosby as Chet Kincaid, high school gym teacher. No, really, it ran two whole seasons. He even sang the theme song.

The 1970s saw the re-emergence of William H. Cosby Jr., who had gone back to school to earn his doctorate in education. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, a hit (12-season!) animated take on the old routines featuring his friends in the projects, and Picture Pages, short interactive educational skits as part of Captain Kangaroo, were the most prominent initial results of this new interest. Also included were memorable guest-starring stints on both Sesame Street and The Electric Company (1971).

At this undisputed high point, he was even starring in hit films with Sidney Poitier: Uptown Saturday Night and the sequel Let's Do It Again, made as a rebuttal to the violent, one-dimensional Blaxploitation films then popular. Somehow, though, while that genre has emerged beloved and even homaged, Cosby's own film career... has not. By the time vanity project Leonard Part 6 debuted in 1987, Cosby was reduced to instructing talk show audiences not to see it, by way of salvaging his big-screen reputation.

Much better received was his 20-odd-year side career as pitchman for Jell-O pudding. Cosby was a fitting spokesman for the product, having mentioned it by name in multiple stand-up routines, perhaps most notably smearing it on the floor as a child to use as booby trap to protect himself against monsters. The standard spot featured Cosby mugging shamelessly while surrounded by cute moppets and – of course – lots and lots of chocolate pudding. Not at all surprisingly, they were instrumental in switching his image from young, hip urban dude to goofy sweater-wearing curmudgeon.

This is how the current generation (or two) knows him best: as Cliff Huxtable in the classic Sitcom The Cosby Show, which lasted from 1984 to 1992 on NBC and was again based around his old routines, this time those featuring his own family. At loose ends (largely due to by-now hopeless typecasting as that same curmudgeon) once it left the air, he took on the TV equivalent of odd jobs, hosting Kids Say the Darndest Things and the 1992 revival of You Bet Your Life. He also dabbled in detective drama (The Cosby Mysteries, natch) for the ABC Mystery Movie revival, and created the animated Nickelodeon series Little Bill and Fatherhood.

His last fling at prime-time television was the 1996–2000 sitcom Cosby, in which he played a lovable elderly curmudgeon in a scenario loosely based on the Britcom One Foot in the Grave. However, the episode most remembered by fans was a fourth-wall-destroying episode in which Cosby's character dreamt that he was Alexander Scott from I Spy (complete with guest appearance by Robert Culp), and Cosby's wife (played once again by Phylicia Rashad) dreamt that she was a character in The Cosby Show.

Cosby's diverse range of material has netted him four Emmy Awards and nine Grammy Awards for his many albums... and a Razzie, for Leonard Part 6. He holds the record for most Grammy wins in the Best Comedy Album category with seven, six of which were consecutive (1965-1970). He has written best-selling books, hosted comedy festivals, and – most recently – campaigned publicly against what he perceives as a lack of ambition and drive within the African-American community. This last role has earned him considerable controversy, mitigated somewhat by sympathy after the murder of his only son, Ennis, in 1997.

In November 2013, Cosby did his first stand-up special in nearly 30 years, Far From Finished, which aired on Comedy Central. Afterwards a planned Netflix special was lined up featuring a show he did on his 77th birthday. But this came shortly before events that would ultimately end his career and tarnish his image as "America's Dad" forever.

As early as 2002 information started trickling out over sexual assault charges, but things kicked into high gear in 2014 when comedian Hannibal Buress brought them up in a stand-up bit that went viral. At least 55 women came forth accusing Cosby of sexual assault, permanently damaging his public image and more or less ending his career. Out of the more than 70 awards and honorary degrees that Cosby has received from various colleges, universities, and organizations, all but a small handful have been rescinded in light of the allegations made against him. He was officially charged with several sexual assaults, the first trial in June 2017 ended with a hung jury and mistrial while a second in April 2018 found him guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He received a sentence of three to ten years in September 2018 and was immediately taken into custody. On June 30, 2021 the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania overturned his conviction on a technicalitynote  He became a free man the same day, and subsequently announced that he has plans to write a documentary about his case and then return to the stage. On June 21, 2022 he was found liable in a California civil trial for sexually assaulting Judith Huth in 1975 when she was 16, awarding her half a million dollars in damages and further damaging his already tarnished reputation.




Comedy albums:

  • Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right! (1963)
  • I Started Out as a Child (1964) – Winner, Best Comedy Album, 1965 Grammy Awards
  • Why Is There Air? (1965) – Winner, Best Comedy Album, 1966 Grammy Awards
  • Wonderfulness (1966) – Winner, Best Comedy Album, 1967 Grammy Awards
  • Revenge (1967) – Winner, Best Comedy Album, 1968 Grammy Awards
  • To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With (1968) – Winner, Best Comedy Album, 1969 Grammy Awards
  • 200 M.P.H. (1968)
  • 8:15 12:15 (1969)
  • It's True! It's True! (1969)
  • Sports (1969) – Winner, Best Comedy Album, 1970 Grammy Awards
  • Live: Madison Square Garden Center (1970)
  • When I Was a Kid (1971)
  • For Adults Only (1971)
  • Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs (1971) – Winner, Best Recording for Children, 1972 Grammy Awards
  • Inside the Mind of Bill Cosby (1972)
  • Fat Albert (1973)
  • My Father Confused Me...What Must I Do? What Must I Do? (1977)
  • Bill's Best Friend (1978)
  • Himself (1982)note 
  • Those of You With or Without Children, You'll Understand (1986) – Winner, Best Comedy Album, 1987 Grammy Awards
  • Oh, Baby! (1991)
  • Far From Finished (2013)


  • Fatherhood (1986)
  • Time Flies (1987)
  • Love and Marriage (1989)
  • Childhood (1991)
  • Kids Say the Darndest Things (1998)
  • Congratulations! Now What?: A Book for Graduates (1999)
  • American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge (with Dwight William Allen) (2000)
  • Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy (with George Booth) (2001)
  • I Am What I Ate... and I'm Frightened!!!: And Other Digressions from the Doctor of Comedy (2003)
  • Friends of a Feather: One of Life's Little Fables (with Erika Cosby) (2003)
  • Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors (with Alvin F. Poussaint) (2007)
  • I Didn't Ask to Be Born (But I'm Glad I Was) (2011)

Not to be confused with the legendary Bing Crosby, or actor Bill Cobbs. Compare Jimmy Savile, a family-friendly television icon from the United Kingdom whose extensive history of sexual abuse didn't come out until shortly after his death.

His personal website can be found here.

Bill Cosby's works provide examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: The "$75 Car" routine. While in college, Cosby buys a 1942 Dodge with four bald tires. He puts one snow tire on in the back because it's all he can afford, loads the trunk full of sandbags to get traction, and paints "CAPTAIN AMERICA" along the side. It starts to protest if driven over 50 miles per hour. Then Cosby tries to drive it after a blizzard and ends up skidding sideways down the road before he finally crashes into a tree.
    • In the "200 M.P.H." routine, he describes his embarrassment at being heckled by the driver of one (a Volkswagen) as he sits by the road in a Rolls-Royce that has quit on him.
    Cosby: (as the other driver) We get a hundred miles to the gallon, too! If the fan belt breaks, we use a rubber band! (as himself) That, I don't need from anybody. I don't need that from people, you know, it's just out of line. See, but a Volkswagen owner will not tell you about when they're driving down the highway, how when a truck comes from an opposite direction - whooof - how you wind up in the ditch. And you haven't even turned the steering wheel, you know. "How did we get in the ditch?" "I don't know, the car is afraid of trucks, that's all there is to it." They won't tell you about how they're barred from the Golden Gate Bridge 'cause they keep changing lanes without moving the steering wheel. They don't say nothing to you about why you gotta roll the windows down before when you get in the car, and you close the door - blam! 'Cause if you don't, if the windows are up, your brains - blam! - smash against the window and you have to go to the doctor. "My brains just fell against the window over here." "What happened?" "Well, I was closing the door on a Volkswagen." They don't tell you about if they have a head-on collision with a dog, they lose. No, all they know is, "Hundred miles to the gallon!"
  • Anti-Climax: Played for laughs on the Revenge album.
    • In the title track, Bill plans to hit Harold with a snowball, but Junior Barnes hits him with a slushball instead (prompting Bill to complain in much the same way Harold always does). Bill ends up saving a snowball in his freezer, but when he goes to use it against Junior Barnes in the middle of July, he discovers his mother had found it and thrown it away. Undaunted, Bill spits on Junior Barnes instead.
    • In his first album (Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!): His football coach's pep talk prompts them to "really wanna smash together"; they try to run out onto the field, only to find that the door is locked.
  • Awful Wedded Life: He's brought it up a couple of times, though by all accounts, his marriage is pretty stable. "Oh, Baby!" is all about the differences between a young couple being recently married and an old couple who have been married for a long time. He admits that there are things that he and his wife are simply not doing for each other anymore. For instance, in the first year of marriage, he would climb up a mountain to make sure his wife is okay; now, he'd make someone else do it for him.
  • Blatant Lies: Both Bill and his brother Russell are very bad liars in "To my Brother Russell, Whom I Slept With". Whenever they do something to necessitate their father coming to their room, Bill and Russell insist that it wasn't them. This includes claiming that some random man broke into their room and jumped on their bed, and then spit water on everything (when it was Bill and Russell who did everything). Their dad eventually reaches a Rage-Breaking Point when he can't take the obvious lying anymore.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce:
    • The "Chinese Mustard" routine about the time when he took a girl to a Chinese restaurant as a teenager. Being broke, he attempted to get as much as he could for his money and dunked his entire egg roll in the mustard. His description of his reaction on biting into it is priceless.
    • His account of tasting some of the local chili sauce in Mexico, during his "Foreign Countries" routine:
      And so then they brew this old chili sauce and everything, and right away the smell starts getting to you. And you say, "Oh, man, I gotta have some of that." And your stomach says, "No, you don't." But your mouth says, "Yeah, gimme some." ...And you drink an orange soda, right, and the next thing, PAIN!! Then you die.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The argument in "To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With" begins when Bill tries to claim ownership of part of a small bed. At the routine's end, after their father has forced Bill and Russell to stand on one spot all night as punishment for causing so much noise, Bill tries to claim part of the floor.
    • One routine has two of them. First, there's a story of why Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films after he ends up terrified by a wino at night and inadvertenly beats him up. After that, he tells a story of Fat Albert and playing buck-buck, then how Fat Albert made the other kids Rage Quit. Finally, there's a routine about a Frankenstein's monster prank that not only ends with Bill getting run over by Fat Albert, but sent to the same hospital as the wino from the scary movie routine.
  • Call-Back: On the Revenge album, Cosby's story of seeing a horror movie with Old Weird Harold ends with them getting scared on the way home and trampling a wino. The next routine, in which he describes being trampled by a frightened Fat Albert, ends with him in the hospital room next to "a wino who'd been run over by two kids, and we both agreed that frightened children are really hard to get along with."
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Played for laughs in the "Chicken Heart" sketch. A young Bill listens to a horror radio program called Lights Out, convinced that a giant chicken heart is coming to eat him up after the program says it is. This causes a terrified Bill to smear Jell-O all over the floor and set the sofa on fire in order to dissuade the chicken heart from coming.
  • Combat Medic: He had a routine where he talked about training to become a US Navy corpsman because he thought the Geneva Convention's rules on medics in combat would keep him safe. Then, after completing training and being assigned to a Marine Expeditionary Unit, he was shown a film where medics were being slaughtered by the enemy and realized that the big red cross on his helmet made him an even bigger target.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the 200 M.P.H. story, he thinks the fire extinguisher in the car is there so that he can jump out of the car and help put out houses on fire and such. He also describes the test drive as the first time he's ever put on a seat belt, thinking that it's not there to keep him safe, but to make it easier for a lazy ambulance driver to find his body if he crashes.
  • Contractual Purity: In Far From Finished, he talks about a few of the reactions he got when telling people he was getting a special on Comedy Central. One grown man burst into tears and shouted "Mr. Cosby's gonna swear!", apparently having his childhood destroyed by the mere thought of it (even though it's happened before). Another guy was also really hoping and expecting him to swear to a creepy level. He doesn't actually swear in the special, perhaps because of one or both of these reactions.
  • Cool Car: Played simultaneously for laughs and drama in the titular routine of the album 200 M.P.H. It's a true story about Cosby's love of sportscars and his very brief ownership of a Shelby Cobra Super Snake CSX 3303. The car was so powerful that he freaked out while idling in his own driveway, and he decided to return it on the spot after a test drive showed him how hard it was to handle safely.note 
  • Creator Backlash: For Leonard Part 6, a movie he co-produced and co-wrote but ended up begging audiences not to see. Cosby not only accepted his Razzie for Leonard Part 6, he had the studio make him a statuette.
  • Creator Breakdown: The death of his son seems to have marked the unofficial end of his comedy career, although he had made occasional appearances on stage.
  • The Danza: Completely inverted. Cosby was never the Danza, even though a majority of his shows had his name in the title. He was Alexander Scott on I Spy, Chet Kincaid on The Bill Cosby Show, Heathcliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show, Guy Hanks on The Cosby Mysteries and Hilton Lucas on Cosby.
  • Demon Head: In Oh, Baby!, Bill talks about how his wife appeared to have become demonically possessed and spoke in tongues when he turned the light on at night because he had to go to the bathroom.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Exploited. In "To My Brother Russell, Whom I Slept With", Bill's father claims he has a belt that's nine feet long, eight feet wide, and is covered in hooks meant to rip the flesh off anyone he beats with it. The way it's framed in the bit, it's obvious that there's no such belt. Not only that, but the threat doesn't work; Bill and Russell keep fighting among each other and getting in trouble in spite of the threat.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • The Badfoot Brown pair of albums; the former contains one song per side: "Martin's Funeral" on the first and "Hybish Shybish" on the second. Cosby wrote and played electric piano on these two songs.
    • The title routine on To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With is 26:43, and takes up the entire B-side of the LP release.
    • Those of You With or Without Children, You'll Understand contains only three tracks: an 18:02 routine on the Book of Genesis, and one about his children growing up titled "The Window of Life" which clocks in at 26:06 (and which takes up the entire B-side of the cassette release). In between is "The Great Quote" (about getting his son to overcome his fear of failure), which is only 4:10 in comparison.
    • The 1991 album Oh, Baby! is a traditional stand-up comedy show, but the album has only two tracks. The first is "Oh, Baby!" where Cosby talks about how affectionate couples are the first year of being married, and how things have changed after 27 years of marriage. The second track is "Skiing", which is about skiing. Each track comes in at about 25 minutes apiece.
  • The Eponymous Show: A trademark, epitomised by The Cosby Show, of course.
  • Explosive Breeder: During his "Noah" routine, he had to repeatedly remind the rabbits "Only two, only two" when two of every animal were boarding the ark.
  • Fake Rabies: "Roland and the Rollercoaster" deals with his crazy friend Roland, who used to do things like keep soap chips in his mouth. When people think Roland's head has been turned around by the roller coaster (due to Roland wearing his clothes backwards), there is a throwaway line from someone seeing Roland: "And he's got the rabies!" It's a good Brick Joke as it usually takes the audience a few moments to remember the soap chips in the mouth (which was mentioned early on in a fairly long story).
  • First Gray Hair: In Time Flies, he points out that he didn't mind the hair on his head turning gray, because he thought it made him look dignified. His pubic hair, on the other hand...
  • Flanderization: The most popular media portrayal of Cosby (thanks to The Simpsons and Family Guy) is that of a gibbering, crazy old man.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The "Chicken Heart" story of the radio program Lights Out ends with the titular monster paying the audience a visit. "It's in your home state!" *bump-bump* *bump-bump* "It's outside of your door!" *bump-bump* *bump-bump* "And it's going to eat you up!" It scares Little Cos badly enough to both smear Jell-O all over the floor and set the sofa on fire.
  • Gargle Blaster: The "Fernet Branca" routine. After mistakenly ordering a revolting dish of barbecued sparrow in Italy and forcing himself to eat it, he develops a roaring case of indigestion. He takes a drink of Fernet Branca (a liqueur with an intensely bitter flavor) to settle his stomach, with the following results:
    Cosby: The bird saw what was coming and started running... and I started running!
  • Grey Goo: Mentioned in a retelling of the old radio serial Lights Out and its "Chicken Heart" episode. The routine is probably far better known than the original audio drama.
  • Hotter and Sexier: As implied by the title, "For Adults Only" was an attempt to appeal to an older audience, while not going completely blue, and featured more risque jokes and references to sex.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Much of Cosby's forays into music have consisted of him doing this, including the theme song to his own The Bill Cosby Show (credited to Cosby himself and Quincy Jones - Jones later recorded it as "Hicky-Burr").
  • Inflation Negation: Cosby has a stand-up routine in which he says that grandparents will give you money; all that you have to do is listen to a story about how much the money used to be worth. He quotes his grandfather saying that he once had 50 cents and bought "a house... and a car... and put 17 cents in the bank."
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In the second part of the "Noah" three-part routine:
      Noah's neighbor: Listen, what's this thing for, anyway?
      Noah: I can't tell you. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
      Noah's neighbor: Well, I mean, can't you give me a little hint?
      Noah: You want a hint?
      Noah's neighbor: Yes, please.
      Noah: How long can you tread water? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
    • In the third part, when Noah's griping at God about all the hassle and ridicule he's gone through:
      God: Noah?
      Noah: Yeah?!
      God: How long can you tread water?
  • Ironic Echo Cut: In "Driving in San Francisco", after stopping on a hill so steep that he's afraid he'll roll backward as soon as he lets go of the brakes:
    Cosby: Well, I don't want to let [the guy behind me] know I can't drive, so I say "Come around, idiot, come around!" but he can't hear me because he's busy telling the guy behind him, "Come around, idiot, come around!"
  • Irony: Several times on the Revenge album:
    • In the title track, Bill plans to hit Harold with a snowball, but Junior Barnes hits him with a slushball instead (prompting Bill to complain in much the same way Harold always does). Bill ends up saving a snowball in his freezer, but when he goes to use it against Junior Barnes in the middle of July, he discovers his mother had found it and thrown it away. Undaunted, Bill spits on Junior Barnes instead.
    • In the second half of "Buck, Buck", Bill is taken in by a prank involving a statue of Frankenstein's monster. When he tries to help play the same prank on Fat Albert, it backfires on him: "I forgot I was behind him." Cue Fat Albert (described minutes earlier as weighing 2,000 pounds) trying to run away...and so terrified he doesn't even realise he's trampling Bill into the ground in the process.
    • Then, they take Bill to the hospital and put him next to "a wino who was run over by two kids." In the previous track, "9th Street Bridge," Bill and Harold ran into a wino in the dark, mistaking him for a monster and trampling him as they ran away.
    • Also in his first album (Bill Cosby Is a Very Funny Fellow...Right!): His football coach's pep talk prompts them to "really wanna smash together"; they run out and the door is locked.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films:
    • His "Chicken Heart" routine culminates in him smearing Jell-O on the floor to trap the giant heart and setting the couch on fire, which his father slips on, breaking his arm.
    • There's also the incident with the wino after Bill and his friend Harold spend all night trying not to watch a movie full of horror monsters. Bill's mom, fed up with always have to get Bill from the theatre, just said she wasn't coming for him. By the time Bill realizes it's really late, it's ten o'clock at night, forcing Bill and Harold to walk over a bridge with no lights to get home. A wino emerges from an alleyway nearby, making Bill and Harold beat him up out of fear for their lives.
    • The Frankenstein-monster statue prank occurs when some kids steal a statue of the Frankenstein monster and bringing itinto an abandoned building, scaring other kids with it. When Bill tries it on Fat Albert, it ends with Albert so scared that he tramples all over Bill. It ends with Bill getting sent to the same hospital as the wino that he and Harold ran over in the previous routine.
  • The Magic Poker Equation:
    • Granted, it was blackjack, but Bill recounts a time in Vegas where a fellow gambler had lost seventeen games in a row. She had twenty, and the dealer was showing a face card. She demanded another card. The dealer even protested, but she insisted.
      "And... (bam!) Ace."
    • Subverted when Bill describes a colossal losing streak of his own. He gets two hundred dollars worth of 25-cent chips and hits the roulette table, with the following result:
      "Covered that table. I mean, covered the table! Red and black! Even up! I'm going to win something before I go to sleep! And the guy spun the ball, and it fell on the floor."
  • M.D. Envy: In a skit from Wonderfulness describing the day he had his tonsils removed, the young Cosby addresses an orderly: "Hey, you! Almost a doctor!"
  • Missing Episode: His 1970 single "Grover Henson Feels Forgotten" was never put on an album until the 1994 budget-line compilation At His Best.
  • Mundane Solution: In the "Chicken Heart" sketch, a terrified Bill has smeared Jell-O all over the floor and set the sofa on fire because she's so scared of the chicken heart on the radio. Bill's father eventually shouts "It's a show, you idiot! Turn it off!" After Bill turns off the radio, there's a Beat of awkward silence before Bill admits "I hadn't thought of that".
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Bill got annoyed with people constantly asking him if he really played football in college. He eventually created a whole routine about a Curb-Stomp Battle that Temple was on the receiving end of against rival school Hofstra just to prove he really played.
    "I played football for Temple University. And it's the truth, see! Don't keep asking me 'did you really play?' Yes, I really played! At one time, I had a beautiful body!"
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Discussed in Bill Cosby: Himself. According to Cosby, a father is the genius of a household, because "only a person as intelligent as [a father] could fake such stupidity". This is entirely intentional, Cosby argues, because he doesn't want to do whatever he's been asked to do, and knows that someone will be coming soon to stop him from doing it if he's doing it wrong. This gets a Call-Back in the "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" routine from the same show, in which Bill serves his children chocolate cake for breakfast in order to get sent to his room and go back to sleep.
  • One-Hit Wonder:invoked In 1967, he had a #4 hit on the Hot 100 with "Little Ole Man (Uptight, Everything's Alright)", a semi-parody of Stevie Wonder's 1965 single "Uptight (Everything's Alright)". Cosby had a few more hits on the R&B charts, but they were not as successful.
  • Oral Fixation: In his "Mr. Ike and the Neighborhood TV Set" routine, he describes a time during his childhood when he briefly became fascinated with a neighbor's habit of chewing tobacco. It lasted until he tried a wad for himself (given to him by said neighbor), accidentally swallowed the juice, and threw up.
  • Pink Elephants: In his "Dudes on Drugs" routine, Bill mentions that alcoholics do not like going to Disneyland because the think they're getting the DTs. In another routine, he describes his father—who was an alcoholic and suffered the DTs—as the only man to have seen the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. There's only three of them now because he choked one to death with a paper towel.
  • Revisiting the Roots:
    • The Cosby Show was filmed in studios in Brooklyn and Queens, more closely matching the location of the story, rather than NBC's typical Los Angeles locations, on Cosby's insistence.
    • My Father Confused Me — What Must I Do? What Must I Do? contains a number of obscure routines which seem to delve into issues a bit more oriented to black life, including one about "dudes on dope." One telling example is an early version of "The Dentist" delivered quite differently than his more well-known Himself version.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Rape allegations going back decades surfaced in 2014. His conviction in 2018 completely ended his career as a comedian before netting him jail time.
  • Secret Weapon: Buck Buck, a game about who can get dogpiled longer without falling down. Bill and his friends had crazy endurance, but so did the kids from "the rough part of town" (to the point of no-selling it). The thing is, those kids didn't have Fat Albert - described by Cosby as weighing 2,000 pounds and causing earthquakes when he ran up.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Forms part of the humor in his "Medic!" routine on I Started Out as a Child. After seeing film footage of hospital corpsmen being shot down on the battlefield, the first thing he does is jump in a foxhole and refuse to leave. When a wounded soldier yells for a medic, he replies, "I don't make house calls! Take two aspirin and mail in the five dollars!"
  • Silly Walk:
    • In one routine, Cosby talks about how every boy in his neighbourhood had to have their own "cool walk". He demonstrates his and, while the full effect is lost on the recorded version, the audience's reaction gives a good indication of exactly what this looked like.
    • In another, included on the Himself DVD, he acts out the way different kinds of drinkers walk (bourbon, gin, etc.). He even does a demo of the "hollow leg" before and after its beer-guzzling owner has made a trip to the bathroom.
  • Suddenly Shouting:
    • From the sketch Tonsils: "Well, listen, man. When the nurse leaves, I'll talk to you about that ice cream later... cause we're gonna eat a MESS of ice cream, Jack."
    • From the same routine: “And we sat there and looked at each other and we said… (whispering) "Ice cream!" (Beat) “ICE cream! We gonna eat ICE cream!”
  • Take That!: In his "200 MPH" routine, he talks about when he bought a custom Cobra sports car from Cobra founder Carroll Shelby, that would go over 200 miles per hour. After a nearly lethal test drive that thoroughly unnerved Cosby (the engine was so powerful that Cosby felt as though he was taking his life in his hands when he drove it), he got as far away from the car as he could and told the deliveryman, "Take the keys and this car, it's all paid for, and you give it to George Wallace."note 
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Cosby recalls in one story how his mother caught him and his brother repeating some curse words that they heard from their father, causing her to yell at them, "WHERE DID YOU GET THAT FROM!?" Cosby then vows to never say that to his own kids. And keeps that vow, until his young daughter (maybe first-grade age) hikes up her dress at the dinner table and shouts, "See my titties?" Cosby's response? "WHERE DID YOU GET THAT FROM?!?" Then he escalates it by going to see the school's principal the next day, figuring she learned it at school.
    • The title of the Far From Finished tour, which started the year before decades of rape allegations resurfaced, completely killed his career, and got him sent to prison.
  • This Is My Side: Figures prominently on the title track of To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With. Even after Dad orders Bill and Russell to get out of bed and stand in their room for the rest of the night, Bill warns Russell not to move onto his side of the floor.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Whenever Cosby does a lower-pitched voice in his stand-up act, since it contrasts with his usual higher-pitched voice. He often uses it when describing things his father (or any father in general) might say.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Several bits on his "For Adults Only" album concern Las Vegas and gambling.
  • What Could Have Been: He had quite a few projects planned for a while that were ready to get started, including a Fat Albert reboot and a new show on Netflix. But then the sexual assault accusations came up and put a very abrupt end to these plans.
  • Zany Scheme: During his "Street Football" routine from I Started Out as a Child:
    Here's a guy with an ingenious mind. He'd call a football play like this...."Now, listen to this, now. Uh, Arnie, go down, uh, ten steps and cut left behind the black Chevy. Filbert, you run down to my house and wait in the living room. Cosby, you go down to 3rd Street, catch the "J" bus. Have him open the doors at 19th Street. I'll fake it to you." They always have one fat kid they never throw it to, says, "What about me?" He says, "You go long."