Greg Fitzsimmons Is Stealing All Of Bill Cosby’s Jokes And It’s Absolutely Brilliant
Separate the art from the artist. It’s advice. It’s hard. Especially when the art is comedy and the artist
is was one of the most beloved and influential comedians of his generation.
Try and watch Bill Cosby’s stand-up special Himself today. Attempt to last more than ten minutes into any episode of The Cosby Show. Hell, make it through a thirty second Jell-O pudding commercial on YouTube without thinking “and then in private this guy was allegedly drugging and raping women.”
It hurts. As a fan of comedy and former admirer of Bill Cosby, it fucking hurts. It makes a person want to hurt Cosby in the same way he’s forever scarred dozens and dozens of innocent women. Physical pain probably wouldn’t phase such a monster and it does nothing but cause trouble for the aggressor.
There’s only one way to hurt Cosby, or any comic, for that matter. Take his material. Not just a joke or one line but all of it. All of it.
So here comes Greg Fitzsimmons. He’s a comedian and television writer/producer who hosts a show on Howard Stern’s Sirius/XM channel; he’s won four Daytime Emmy Awards for his work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show; not to mention he’s written for The Chelsea Handler Show and Politically Incorrect.Fitzsimmons’ plan is simple: he wants comedians everywhere to start taking Cosby’s legacy back from him.
It’s a controversial idea, in that it’s using comedy’s most verboten act as a means of defending it from a man whose crimes have spoiled our memories of his canonical work. I asked Fitzsimmons to explain the thinking behind it and what he hopes to accomplish.
Fitzsimmons spoke with Esquire about the controversial approach and made more than a few valid points. Here’s what happened the first time Fitzsimmons did Cosby’s material in front of a crowd.
What happened when you tried doing one of his bits?
I was at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which is kind of a rowdy club. I just started doing a bit, the dentist bit, because I figured that’s his most famous bit, and my intention was to go as far as I could into it before someone yelled out, “Hey, that’s Cosby!” And nobody said it. So I got through like half the bit before I finally said, “Do you guys have any idea what I’m doing right now?” And then I said this is Cosby’s bit. And I said, “I figured I might as well do it, because I don’t think he’s got enough time to sue me right now!” I think it’s less heinous of a crime for me to be stealing his material than for what he did stealing from all those women.
Did it get a laugh once you explained it?
Oh, it killed. It wasn’t just the laughter, but people were nodding their heads and smiling. I think there’s this frustration that this guy is obviously guilty of one of the most heinous crimes you can perpetrate, times, what, 40? And this bullshit statute of limitations keeps it from being prosecuted. So I think there’s this feeling of, how can we hurt this guy? His live shows, I think those are eviscerated at this point. So that part of him is over, but he’s still got this body of work. So how can you cheapen that somehow? How do you dilute that? I want to go wide with it and tell every comedian, just go on stage and do a Bill Cosby joke. Just take it. Take your favorite one and just do it.
Fitzsimmons has a goal in mind and it all boils down to hurting the man who hurt so many people.
“I think it’s that and I think it’s also robbing Bill Cosby of his equity. I want to hurt him. I want to do what crowds have done by abandoning him, by taking away the thing that’s probably most precious to him, which is his material.”