Top Five: Bill Cosby and the Fine Art of Comedy

by | July 27, 2012 at 4:06 PM | Top 5, TV News

Here we go again: Leading our weekly Top Five with one our older entertainers. Well, if you’d seen Bill Cosby on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” this past Thursday night, you’d know why Cos earned the top spot here.

In fact, we’ll explain it all, if you will please read on:

1) Cos and effect: Truth be told, we’re usually not so gaga for Bill Cosby when he appears on one of the late-night shows. Oftentimes, the host — a comedian himself — is so reverent of Cosby that it doesn’t seem to matter to the host if Cos leaves the comedy at home.

And many times in the last decade or so, he’s done exactly that, leaving viewers at home befuddled as he goes off on riffs that are inaccessible and incomprehensible. It’s like going to a Bob Dylan concert. You love the guy, but the way he mangles his own songs when performing them can be very disappointing, depending, apparently, on his mood on any given night.

So it was with great pleasure that we caught Cosby’s act on “Fallon” Thursday night, and in a word, it was magnificent. It really can’t be described; you have to watch it for yourself. But suffice it to say: Bill Cosby was “on” — on target and on the money — the consummate artist of comedy. I mean, at age 75, this guy was energized in a way we hadn’t seen him in years. Fallon, obviously, was over-joyed.

Watch Bill Cosby on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”:

2) Pot luck: The subject of marijuana came up in several places this past week on the late-night shows, due mainly to an aggressive move on the part of Los Angeles City Council to crack down on the city’s rapid proliferation of pot shops. The crackdown on the runaway retailers resulted, apparently, from statewide decriminalization of marijuana (for medicinal use, of course).

Roseanne Barr, a resident of Hawaii and California, brought up the subject (she’s for pot) on the “Fallon” show this week. And Jimmy Kimmel brought it up too on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” which featured a new gift idea from the folks who make Chia Pets.

Watch Jimmy introduce this new idea here:

3) Please explain this to us: We don’t usually include such head-scratching material as this next clip from Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” in our Top Five, but we include it here as an example of a late-night bit that, to our eyes, missed its target (comedy, to be precise) by a mile or two. It involved these two acrobatic brothers who style themselves as The Ninja Twins, and they apparently made a splash this summer on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Well, Leno explained one night this week that he was so fascinated by these two that he invited them on “The Tonight Show” to headline a comedy bit that had the brothers watching various reality TV shows and commenting on them. We felt that, creatively, this was one of the most unfortunate bits we’d seen produced for a late-night show in a very long time.

Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not: Watch this:

4) A top show on the brink of extinction?: That appeared to be the case, however briefly, with ABC’s “Modern Family,” the revered sitcom that happens to be ABC’s highest-rated scripted show. The show figured in the week’s top story on the TV beat as its stars sued the company that produces it, and then declined to come to work to get started on script readings for the new episodes that will be seen this fall. By the time the week ended, it seemed as if the destruction of the show had been averted, though the cast was still without their contracts.

This episode — the season finale from last May — could have been its last:

5) As we go to press: Yes, “going to press” is a quaint way of saying that this item has to do, partly, with events that have not yet happened, but are due to happen shortly — after we’ve written this thing. And yes, we are aware that we don’t actually “go to press” anymore.

Anyway — so far so good. Well, this following clip has to do with the London Olympics, which don’t get underway officially until Friday night (in a few hours on NBC). But certainly, TV was full of events this week (particularly on NBC, not surprisingly) leading up to the big Games, including daily accounts of the Olympic torch and its whereabouts. In this clip from “The NBC Nightly News,” a 100-year-old torchbearer does her part.

Watch this touching Olympic moment:

Watch Full Episodes:
‘Modern Family’ ‘The Office’ ‘How I Met Your Mother’ ’30 Rock’