The Cosby Show vs. The Oscars Show

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Mar 06, 2006 12:58 PM

I didn't watch the Oscars. Instead, I enjoyed a performer who was actually classy and entertaining-- Bill Cosby at the Kennedy Center. A friend of mine who had tickets got very sick at the last minute and I profited handsomely from her bout with stomach flu. Bless her heart. Thanks, Meghan!

Cosby did two hours on marriage and family and parenting and grandparenting. Cosby has always been a clean comic-- great clean fun. Anyone could have brought their kids to this performance without a second thought. I laughed all the way through.

Unlike Cosby, apparently last night's Oscars were not appropriate for children or adults who wished to laugh. Capt. Ed liveblogged the whole thing, and found very few bright moments.

Jon Stewart did not go over in most people's estimation. I've always kind of liked him, but there's something so tricky about the Oscars. Why do so many comics I find funny fail when put on that stage? I like Chris Rock and David Letterman, too. I think it may have something to do with appealing to two entirely different audiences-- the Hollywood folks in the crowd and the fly-over folks at home.

I think many hosts, in trying to straddle the great red-blue divide-- trying to please everyone-- end up pleasing no one, just as Stewart did last night. For instance, he could have taken many, many more cheap shots at Bush and had his live audience rolling in the aisles like so many wrinkly, taffeta caterpillars, but he would have risked ticking off many watching from home. On the other hand, he could have told many more jokes at the expense of Scientology and Hollywood's liberalism and made red-staters happier, but his in-house audience would have glared all the harder.

He's getting mixed reviews from the professional critics.

It's a rough gig that has conquered many a talented comic. I sometimes think the Academy just tries to be too young and hip. Chris Rock and Jon Stewart both appeal to young audiences, but their shticks fall short when they have to appeal to the broad audience the Oscars attract. What about someone more classic? What about a Bill Cosby? An icon who brings fun and class to the stage and evokes mistier feelings about Hollywood eras gone by-- a time when Hollywood didn't feel so disconnected from its audience. Just a thought. Maybe all the icons are loathe to take the gig for fear of failing as spectacularly as so many others have done. Why take the risk? After all, they're already icons.

I probably should have DVRd the Oscars, so I could hone in on cultural offenses and the like, but I forgot before I left the house. Luckily, my best friend the Internet is here to tell me all about it.

I can find out who was ugly. I can find a convenient list of the best and the worst of the night. And then I can go watch them on YouTube.

Reese Witherspoon's acceptance speech is just ridiculously adorable. I'm so proud of her. She became one of my favorite actresses when I watched her play the spunky tomboy in her first film-- "Man in the Moon." The Lily Tomlin/Meryl Streep tribute to Robert Altman was pretty clever.

All in all, I'm glad I watched Bill and got my Oscar report later.