My Audition For a Cosby Show

January 5, 2016 9 By Michael
Bill Cosby Photo Credits: The Guardian.Com

Bill Cosby, the funniest man in show business.
Photo Credits: The Guardian.Com

“Hey HMH,” my paralegal said one afternoon in the early 1990s, “Bill Cosby is auditioning for a new  show in our building next week. You should sign up for an audition.”

“Yaa,” my secretary said, “you are always telling us stories every time we mess up something. You would be good for this.”

“You would be perfect,” another office aid chimed in, “You could tell that story about how you use gardening to teach your son life lessons that was in the AJC (Atlanta Constitution & Journal) a few Sundays ago.”

“Who, me,” I queried? “I don’t have time or any talent for that kind of thing.”

“You should do it,” they all argued in unison.

“Bring me that Techwood Homes murder file, we’ve got work to do,” I retorted, thinking that was the end of the discussion.

Little did I know, as I poured over investigative reports and crime scene photographs that members of my office staff were on the telephone lobbying my wife to encourage me to sign up for the Cosby audition. When I arrived home that evening, the dinner table conversation centered on the Cosby auditions that would be held in the Peachtree Center Office Tower where my office was located. I relented and agreed to sign up for an audition for a Bill Cosby pilot show.

The next day I told my secretary to enroll me for an audition. When the day of the audition arrived, I had a calendar call in Fulton County, which lasted until lunch time. I was hoping that I would be called back to court after lunch. No such luck. I was able to dispose of my case before lunch.

Around 4:00 pm, I took the elevator up to the floor where the auditions were being held. I did not know what to expect. I had read about the audition couch, but did not know how that experience could apply to me. After all, Bill Cosby was a respectable man like me. I generally liked the positive messages of his television shows and his movies. What could go wrong, right?

I was led to a reception area and given a confidentiality agreement to sign. I was the only lawyer in the room and the only person who actually read the agreement in its entirety before signing it. There were probably about eight of us in this area.

After a brief period of time in the room, a man came out to retrieve the signed agreements and  led us into a conference room where a man representing Cosby’s production company explained that Dr. Cosby was contemplating a new variety show. We were shown video clips of what Cosby had in mind. We were asked to think of a story that we could use in a monologue that we could present Dr. Cosby when he came out.

I breathed a sigh of relief, there appeared to be no audition couch. Perhaps, that is all Hollywood myth, I thought.

After the video, Cosby came into the conference room wearing a shirt and tie, dark slacks and a tweed jacket. He wore a broad smile on his face, white teeth sparkling as he took his seat. He asked everyone to introduce themselves and briefly tell about the story they had to share with him.

When my turn came, I opted for the gardening story where I would take my six year old son out to the garden with me and talk with him about life issues, explaining that periodically a gardener has to pull weeds out of the garden and in life people sometimes will have to pull bad habits from their lives. Cosby made brief eye contact with me while making his assessment of my story. I could see his brain turning, he nodded his head in my direction when I had finished and moved to the next person.

When Cosby came to a young black woman from Marietta, Georgia, his face came to life. In her story she talked about why she did not eat pasta. Cosby found it an intriguing tale and immediately began that Cosby interchange with this character as we are accustomed to him doing on The Cosby Show with Claire Huxtable and others. They had this lively discussion about how pasta wraps around the various organs of the body on its way down to the stomach. It was an impromptu dialogue, vintage Cosby. I laughed and for the first time that day, felt at ease, the tension brought on by the audition and the stress of the law practice were washed away by the humor of Cosby’s playfulness and the witty, unrehearsed skit.

I did not get a call back. I’m not sure anyone did. The show was never produced. For one brief moment, I was personally entertained by Bill Cosby on Peachtree Street. I had the pleasure of his comic relief with an exclusive audience of seven other people.

 

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com