*Bill Cosby performed in front of an audience for the first time since a sexual abuse scandal sent his career careening into the abyss.
“I used to be a comedian,” Cosby deadpanned Monday night to the friendly crowd at Philly’s LaRose Jazz Club, It was the 80-year-old’s first performance since May 2015. (Watch the video above.)
Cosby arrived at the jazz club on the arm of his spokesman Andrew Wyatt. Sporting a gray hoodie printed with the phrase “Hello Friend” – something his late son, Ennis Cosby, often would say – Cosby was well received by the hometown crowd as he told stories, honored old friends and finished by leading the Tony Williams Jazz Quartet in a set, first using his mouth to scat in place of a missing horn section and then taking a turn at the drums.
Handing the drumsticks off to the 11-year-old son of the bass player, Cosby asked if the boy knew who he was and then told him.
“I used to be a comedian,” Cosby told him.
His last comedy tour ended amid protests as about 60 women were coming forward to accuse him of drugging and molesting them over five decades, something he has denied.
Cosby is scheduled for an April 2 retrial on charges he drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He has pleaded not guilty and remains free on bail. His first trial ended with a hung jury last year. Jury selection for his retrial will start March 29.
The comic’s spokesman notified reporters of the comedy performance about two hours before he was to take the stage. See below:
Two weeks ago, Cosby invited reporters to tag along as he ate dinner with old friends at a Philadelphia restaurant.
Over the weekend, Cosby’s social media accounts featured photos of him visiting a barber and a cafe in the area and showing support for the Philadelphia Eagles, who won Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings and secured a spot in the Super Bowl.