Bill Cosby tells woman 'be careful about drinking around me' at London, Ont., show
Cosby makes comment heavy with innuendo to woman in the front row
Bill Cosby was forced to confront the allegations that have dogged him for weeks when a heckler in London, Ont., the second stop on a Canadian tour, yelped out that the comedian was a rapist.
Cosby stood up as the crowd started to boo the man and asked them not to respond.
"No, no, stop," he said, waving his hands.
"Shh, no clapping right now. That's all right. Patience."
The man was removed from the theatre by a police officer while one member of the audience yelled "We love you" to Cosby.
The crowd then applauded after the heckler was removed and Cosby continued on with his routine.
The same heckler had earlier yelled out, "We don't love you" while Cosby was on stage, to which the comedian responded with "OK" before carrying on with his joke.
A few minutes earlier, a woman who got up from one of the front rows and walked past the stage was asked by Cosby where she was going.
When she answered that she was going to the lobby to grab a drink, Cosby responded with a line heavy with innuendo.
"You have to be careful about drinking around me," he said to loud applause.
Security was tight for the second of Cosby's three Ontario shows.
Ticketholders' bags were searched, and some were subjected to patdowns as they entered, and Budweiser Gardens was enforcing a zero electronics policy.
Protesters shout 'shame'
Outside, police were on hand as protesters tried to send a message to those going to see the embattled comedian with shouts of "shame."
Cosby is facing a slew of sexual assault allegations — in recent weeks at least 18 women, including three who came forward in Los Angeles on Wednesday, have accused him of sexually assaulting them, with some claims dating back decades.
Cosby's show in London follows his appearance a night earlier in Kitchener, Ont., where his fans gave him a warm standing ovation while protesters outside the venue chanted and waved signs about rape not being a joke.
The 77-year-old comedian has never been criminally charged in connection with the allegations and has denied them through his lawyer.
His reputation, however, has taken a beating.
At least 10 performances on his North American tour were cancelled in the U.S., NBC halted work on a Cosby sitcom that was under development and Netflix indefinitely postponed a special that was set to premiere last month.
In the Ontario cities hosting Cosby this week, a number of people who were once fans of the man who played the humorous Dr. Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992 have voiced disgust at the allegations, making the decision not to attend his show.
Karen Ann Bridge was one of them. The 50-year-old had bought tickets to go see the comedian in London with her family but changed her mind about attending after the barrage of allegations against Cosby came to light.
"I don't think I could ever watch a show from him now without that being at the back of my mind," said Bridge. "These are just allegations but they still don't sit with me well ... Women don't lie about these things."
Bridge was among those joining a demonstration against Cosby outside the venue where he is to perform.
A local women's centre organizing the protest said they've heard from a number of other disgruntled ticketholders as well.
"We certainly don't think Mr. Cosby is welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the individuals we've spoken to and I don't think his reception will be a very good one here," said Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women's Centre.
"This is an amazing community which rallies around women and this is no joke."
Walker said she had also heard that some people with tickets planned to go to Cosby's performance to heckle the comedian or stand up and turn their backs on him during the show, but noted that those individuals weren't affiliated with the protest and there was no way of knowing if their actions would go ahead.
Kitchener performance drew laughs
Similar rumours had been heard ahead of Cosby's show in Kitchener, but that performance went ahead without any interruptions. There was, however, a heavy security presence and a number of empty seats in the theatre.
The controversy didn't appear to have upset either Cosby or his fans though.
The comedian made it a point to thank his audience at the beginning and at the end of his show in Kitchener and it appears his performance was much appreciated.
"It was great. He's a very funny man," said Beverly Censner, who attended the Kitchener show. "It's all good clean humour and he's just a great storyteller."
Censner added that she thought the show wasn't really affected by protesters who had heckled ticketholders outside the venue.
"They were very peaceful, saying what they thought," she said. "We're polite Canadians, we're good."
Cosby is scheduled to perform in Hamilton on Friday, the last of his Ontario shows. A protest was being planned outside that performance as well.