ill Cosby – born July 12, 1937 – has accomplished more things in his career than you can shake a stick at, from being the first African-American actor to star in a prime-time dramatic series ("I Spy") to making a film which is universally agreed upon as one of the worst of all time ("Leonard, Part 6"), not to mention producing a signature sitcom of the 1980s ("The Cosby Show")…but when it comes right down to it, he's still best remembered as a stand-up comedian. Why? Because he's one of the kings.

If you had cable in the early '80s, not only did you probably see Cosby's feature-length comedy film, "Himself," more times than you could count, you can most likely still quote entire passages from it even now. Unlike some of his contemporaries, like Dick Gregory, Cosby's race almost never entered into his comedy; his specialty was reminiscences of his childhood, discussions of his marriage, and, as time passed, experiences dealing with his own children. Cosby also rarely had to "work blue," as it were. His album For Adults Only turned out to be a treatise on parenting, and it's a demonstration of how clean his material generally tended to be that, when he uttered even the relatively-mild obscenity "asshole" during "Himself" (while riffing on people who snort coke), everyone's eyes grew to the size of saucers.

Cosby never translated his stand-up success into a great deal of box office clout, though he had a solid string of flicks in the '70s where he teamed with Sidney Poitier ("Uptown Saturday Night," "Let's Do It Again," "A Piece of the Action"). On television, however, he was a staple from the late '60s onward, often throwing around his significant power in the industry to provide education for the younger generation. In addition to creating, producing, and providing voices for "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids," he could also be found on "The Electric Company" as well as "Captain Kangaroo" (with "Picture Pages"); later, he would also create the animated shows "Little Bill" and "Fatherhood."

Since scoring his significant television success in the '80s with "The Cosby Show," as well as his slightly less successful television success in the '90s with "Cosby," stand-up releases from Bill have been decidedly sparse. In fact, there have only been two: 1986's Those of You With or Without Children, You'll Understand and 1991's Oh, Baby. The strange thing, however, is that the man continues to tour the country on a regular basis, and you have to imagine that, even with all those albums under his belt, he's still working up new material. So when can we listen to some of it in the privacy of our own homes?

Essential Albums

In all honesty, every album Cosby released from 1963 through 1968 is pretty much a comedy classic, from his debut (Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow, Right!) through To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With. Once you hit the '70s, 1971's When I Was A Kid and 1973's Fat Albert album show where Cosby got the inspiration for the Saturday morning cartoon; further hilarious childhood anecdotes are related on My Father Confused Me; What Should I Do? Himself is comedic perfection, of course, but go the extra mile by skipping the CD and just buying the movie on DVD.

Comedy Discography

Bill Cosby Is A Very Funny Fellow, Right! (1963)

I Started Out As A Child (1964)

Why Is There Air? (1965)

Wonderfulness (1966)

Revenge (1967)

To Russell, My Brother, Whom I
Slept With

200 M.P.H. (1968)

Bill Cosby: 8:15 – 12:15 (1969)

It's True! It's True! (1969)

Live: Madison Square Garden (1970)

When I Was A Kid (1971)

For Adults Only (1971)

Inside the Mind of Bill Cosby (1972)

Fat Albert (1973)

My Father Confused Me, What Should I Do? (1977)

Bill's Best Friend (1978)

Bill Cosby Himself (1982)

Those of You With or Without Children, You'll Understand (1986)

Oh, Baby (1991)

TV Series

"I Spy" (1965-68)

"The Bill Cosby Show" (1969-71)

"The Electric Company" (1971-72)

"Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" (1972-84)

"The New Bill Cosby Show" (1972)

"Cos" (1976)

"Picture Pages" (1984)

"The Cosby Show" (1984-92)

"The Cosby Mysteries" (1994-95)

"Cosby" (1996-2000)

"Kids Say the Darndest Things"


"Man and Boy" (1972)

"Hickey and Boggs" (1972)

"Uptown Saturday Night" (1974)

"Let's Do It Again" (1974)

"Mother, Jugs & Speed" (1976)

"A Piece of the Action" (1977)

"California Suite" (1978)

"The Devil and Max Devlin" (1981)

"Leonard Part 6" (1987)

"Ghost Dad" (1990)

"The Meteor Man" (1993)

"Jack" (1996)


"Fatherhood" (1987)

"Time Flies" (1988)

"Love and Marriage" (1990)

"Bill Cosby: Actor and Comedian (People to Know)" (1995)

"Kids Say the Darndest Things" (1999)

"Cosbyology : Essays and Observations From the Doctor of Comedy" (2002)

"Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost its Mind?" (2005)

Famous Last Words

My father established our relationship when I was seven years old. He looked at me and said, 'You know, I brought you in this world, and I can take you out. And it don't make no difference to me, I'll make another one look just like you.'

It was because of my father that from the ages of seven to fifteen, I thought that my name was Jesus Christ and my brother, Russell, thought that his name was Dammit. 'Dammit, will you stop all that noise?' And, 'Jesus Christ, sit down!' One day, I'm out playing in the rain, and my father yelled, 'Dammit, will you get back in here!' I said, 'Dad, I'm Jesus Christ!'

Mothers who have experience in the trenches of family warfare are sometimes even driven to what I call anticipatory parenting. They ask a child a question, he tries to answer, and they say, 'You shut up! When I ask you a question, you keep your mouth shut! You think I'm talking to hear myself talk? Answer me!'

I love it when mothers get so mad they can't remember your name. 'Come here, Roy, er, Rupert, er, Rutabaga... what is your name, boy? And don't lie to me, because you live here, and I'll find out who you are.'

Let us now set forth one of the fundamental truths about marriage: the wife is in charge.

Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think -- in a deeper voice.

I want to die before my wife, and the reason is this: If it is true that when you die, your soul goes up to judgment, I don't want my wife up there ahead of me to tell them things.

Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.

I said to a guy, 'Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful,' and he said, 'Because it intensifies your personality.' I said, 'Yes, but what if you're an asshole?'

Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids -- $500 sneakers for what? And they won't spend $200 for 'Hooked on Phonics.'