Temple University alumni are used to the sight of Bill Cosby walking along the sidelines and in the stands at Temple basketball and football games. Some students are taken aback at the sight of the iconic comic walking along with the masses. But Cosby isn’t like most of his egocentric peers. He doesn’t merely exist in a fortress of solitude.
During a recent interview, Cosby spoke of the importance of education for young people. Cosby held court for an hour and spoke of the impact Temple University in Philadelphia had on him over a half-century ago.
“You need to get a college education,” Cosby said. “I wanted to become a teacher.”
Cosby has been an instructor in a different manner. The legendary figure has made an impact as a stand-up comedian, a television star with two seminal sitcoms (“The Bill Cosby Show” and “The Cosby Show”) and a film actor (“Uptown Saturday Night,” “Ghost Dad”). Aside from his hit shows and films, Cosby has won a Grammy and an Emmy and been awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor.
“I’ve had a great deal of success,” Cosby said. “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done, but I’m not done yet.”
Cosby will appear at 8 p.m. Friday in a sold-out show at the Orpheum Theatre in Wichita.
He still spins hilarious yarns that are relatable and at times surprising. Now that Richard Pryor and George Carlin have passed, Cosby is the elder statesman of comedy.
“There is no one like Bill Cosby,” comedian Jeff Foxworthy said. “He might be the most influential comedian. He had quite an impact on me.”
Pats on the back from comics are nice for Cosby.
“But who I hope that I have the real impact on is the kids,” Cosby said. “It’s important to pay attention in school. It’s the key to a better life.”
Cosby earned a track scholarship to Temple but he had to pass the SAT.
“I was haunted when I took that test,” he said. “Since I didn’t pay attention in school, I was unarmed. Fortunately for me, Temple gave me a chance and put me in remedial everything.”
College writing classes helped Cosby become a sharp comedy writer.
“I learned that I could write,” Cosby said. “My stories would get an A. But the grammar mark would be a C. But I was rolling along. I was getting there.”
Cosby went from rising college student to rising star. He left Temple after his freshman year to give comedy a shot. He landed a co-starring gig in “I Spy” and in the process became the first African-American to star in a dramatic television series.
“It’s been a remarkably long run,” Cosby said. “But it’s not over yet.”