Bill Cosby returns to stage

NEW YORK • Entertainer Bill Cosby performed for the first time in public since multiple women came forward in 2015 to accuse him of sexual assault, telling stories and jokes in front of a supportive crowd on Monday evening in Philadelphia.

Cosby, clutching a cane and wearing a grey sweatshirt that read "Hello Friend", took the stage at the LaRose Jazz Club at about 7pm, his first performance since his comedy tour came to a halt in May 2015 amid mounting allegations of sexual misconduct.

He sat on a stool surrounded by a group of roughly 50 admiring fans and friends, who snapped photos throughout the performance. His appearance, which was part of a show honouring jazz drummer Tony Williams, was open to the public - but Cosby's spokesman announced it only about two hours before it started.

During his set, Cosby, 80, joked about his struggles with blindness and remarked about the age of the audience. He then played the drums with the Tony Williams Jazz Quartet.

He did not mention his retrial on sexual assault charges scheduled to begin in spring, according to a National Public Radio reporter at Monday's show.

The retrial will take place in a far different landscape than when his first trial ended in a hung jury last summer. In the months since then, high-profile men have suffered swift consequences during a wave of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mr Bobby Allyn, the reporter, said on Twitter that he had asked Cosby how the #MeToo movement might affect jurors in his retrial. Mr Allyn said: "He shrugged in an animated way, put on a goofy smile and said, 'I don't know.'"

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'Bill Cosby returns to stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe