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Queens Chronicle

Bill Cosby didn’t ask to be born

Funny man discusses career, gives advice to York College students

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Posted: Thursday, February 13, 2014 2:00 am | Updated: 11:22 am, Thu Feb 20, 2014.

He’s been in the spotlight since 1960 and has not stopped making people laugh through his storytelling-esque comedy and social commentary and when he stepped on stage at York College with friend and businessman Frank Savage, it was clear: Bill Cosby’s still got it.

Cosby was promoting his new book “I Didn’t Ask to be Born: But I’m Glad I Was,” and Savage discussed his first book “The Savage Way.”

“My wife is a very wise woman,” Cosby said when asked where he got the title of his book from. “I heard one daughter come downstairs and say to my wife, ‘I’m bored’ and my wife said ‘That’s because you’re boring,’ and it didn’t take any time. But one day, my daughter shouted out ‘I didn’t ask to be born’ and that’s where the title comes from. I thought of three things to say to her but I didn’t say them to her because I felt I would not get into heaven.”

Aside from the occasional joke, Cosby’s message was clear: Education is the most important thing in the world.

“When I got my diploma, my mother knocked over a man and ran over to me to sit in my lap and give me a kiss,” he said. “You see, mothers have this strange belief that, that piece of paper means something. For whatever reason, they think that.”

He expressed the important roles public schools like York College in Jamaica serve in areas inhabited primarily by minorities.

“This school’s president is a Jamaican,” he said. “Look around you, look at all the people here. There is so much opportunity right here.”

The program was sponsored by the LINKS, a community service group made up of African-American women.

“Listen to those who are older than you,” Cosby said. “These women, the LINKS, they do good because they want to. Older people just want to tell you what they know. No matter how low we are, could be the lowest junkie ever or be like Frank dealing with billions of dollars, you will always remember what one of those old people said to you.”

Cosby told a story about his grandmother who was not college educated and the point she brought up when he told her what his philosophy class was discussing.

“I told her ‘we debated about the glass being half empty or half full,’ and my grandmother, who did not really understand anything about philosophy,” he said. “She looked at me and said ‘Well, it depends if you’re pouring or if you’re sipping.’ I couldn’t wait to go back to class after hearing that.”

All jokes aside, Cosby said he would not be the man he is today without his degree from Temple University.

“I was in remedial English, deservedly so,” he said. “I wouldn’t have my comedy without that class. You’ve got to hang out with bright people. You have to read and write and expose yourself to people who are smarter than you so you can absorb what they teach you.”

The audience gave Cosby, who dressed causally in a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie that said “Hello Friend,” a standing ovation when he finished.

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