An audience of more than 750 gathered at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Oct. 8 to watch Bill Cosby’s comedy performance. The event raised $144,000 to benefit the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine.
Founded in 2000, the Susan Samueli Center is dedicated to scientific research and education in the field of complementary and alternative medicine.
The planning for this first major fundraising event for the center began about a year ago.
‘We [wanted] somebody who could do a show and could capture the notion that you are in charge of your own wellness,’ explained Jackie McDougall, senior director of development for UCI Health Sciences.
The center believes that laughing is one of the ways to ensure a healthy life; hence the title of the event, ‘Laughter is the Best Alternative Medicine.’
The event featured Bill Cosby, one of the most influential American performers of the last four decades.
‘We thought that he was somebody that would have tremendous appeal across all ages,’ McDougall said. ‘Everyone thought he would be great. He was on top of our list.’
Lola Gillebaard, a board member of the SSC, introduced Cosby, whom the audience welcomed with cheers and applause.
Wearing a bright yellow sweatshirt with ‘Hello Friend’ printed on the front, Cosby began his hour-long comedy routine, bringing almost nonstop laughter to the theatre.
Cosby’s routine played with the stereotypes of topics such as marriage, raising children and aging. He also incorporated medical humor to coincide with the theme of the event.
In one of his jokes about marriage Cosby said, ‘Don’t ever let your wives know you are sick. When they find out what caused it, you can’t do it anymore.’
In another, Cosby said, ‘My wife is not my friend. My wife got rid of my friend. Never once did I get down on my knees and beg my friend to spend the rest of his life with me. I love my wife. And to prove it, I got rid of my friend for my wife.’
To the younger men in the audience, Cosby suggested, ‘Listen to your wife when she asks you a question. Understand the question ’cause she’s going to answer it for you. Just remember, if the question starts with ‘Do you want,’ this does not pertain to you.’
As an example, Cosby spoke about a recent conversation with his wife. ‘Do you want to go to the mall now or later?’ she asked him, ‘Later is better.’
Cosby also poked fun at the elderly who rely too much on modern medication. During Cosby’s interaction with a diabetic man, the man said to him, ‘I am a diabetic but I can eat as much chocolate as I want. I can eat four Hershey’s bars and stick this needle through my pant leg and I would sleep for three hours.’ The man’s wife replied, ‘Idiot, you were in a coma!’
On the subject of raising children, Cosby poked fun at the notion of holding birthday parties for infants. ‘When my granddaughter was one, she sent out invitations to other one-year-old people. How she knew their names, I don’t know. When they came in, they couldn’t talk but somehow they R.S.V.P.ed.’
Cosby ended his performance with a humorous account of his trip to the dentist. He began by saying, ‘Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with sharp objects. But the first thing he does when you sit in that chair is to get out a metal hook.’
In addition to the support provided by Susan and Henry Samueli, the event was made possible by many cosponsors to ensure that a high percentage of the ticket sales go directly to the center’s research.
The event was a private engagement, inviting a selected group of people. The center targeted doctors in Orange County, friends and alumni of the College of Medicine and guests who were affiliated with the university.
‘I was surprised that such a big star would come to Irvine. It was great!’ said Irvine resident Priscilla Hagadorn as she walked out of the theater.
Seal Beach resident Gisela Zarate said, ‘You grew up with him and he’s just enjoyable.’
Even younger members of the audience enjoyed Cosby’s performance.
Diana Patin, one of Cosby’s younger fans, attended the event to celebrate her 12th birthday and simply said, ‘It was awesome.’