Controversial comedian Bill Cosby is planning his first comedy tour since his release from prison in 2021. Cosby—who spent three years in jail after being convicted of sexual assault before that ruling was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court—hinted at a return to the stage in a surprise radio interview on WGH Talk on 28 December. Cosby replied in the affirmative when host Scott Spears asked if 2023 was the year he could tour again.
“When I come out of this, I feel that I will be able to perform and be the Bill Cosby that my audience knows me to be,” he told Spears.
Cosby’s publicist Andrew Wyatt also told NPR on Thursday that the tour is tentatively scheduled to occur “roughly around spring, summer or late summer” of 2023. This news comes weeks after five more women filed a civil sexual assault lawsuit against Cosby. Wyatt told NPR that the pending lawsuit will not affect Cosby’s return to comedy. “People have looked at the allegations, they’ve looked at the information, and it’s a money grab,” Wyatt said.
Cosby has been the subject of several lawsuits related to allegations of sexual assault, with the first one dating back to 2005 (he settled that one out of court). His alleged misconduct remained an open secret in the industry—referred to on shows like SNL and 30 Rock, the subject of a viral Hannibal Buress set—and in 2014-15, a number of women publicly accused him of alleged assaults from 1965 to 2004.
Most of the allegations fell outside the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, except for the Andrea Constand case, which resulted in Cosby’s conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. That conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which cited “violations of his due process rights.” However he continues to face civil lawsuits. Last year, a jury in a civil case ordered Cosby pay Judy Huth US$ 5,00,000 for sexually assaulting her when she was 16 years old (in 1975). In total, over 60 women have accused Cosby of sexual harassment and/or assault.