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Cosby delivers comic relief

Sept. 5, 2003

By Sandi Villarreal, reporter

'Hopefully at the rally you'll see smiles and it won't be because of me,' Bill Cosby said the evening before his Thursday night performance at Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium. 'It will be because the students realize who they are and why they chose to come here.'

Cosby predicted the reaction from the crowd of more than 20,000 at the spirit rally held Thursday as the Baylor University Golden Wave Band played and the crowd cheered for something other than a sports team taking the field. As Cosby suggested, the night was all about the students.

'I think it's great that he's raising the spirits of the student body and it's great that he's doing this for free because at the same time, he's giving so much to us,' Curtis Collier, a Longview senior, said.

President Robert B. Sloan Jr. opened the rally at 8 p.m. along with the president of the Baylor Board of Regents Drayton McLane and Provost David L. Jeffrey. The three presented Cosby with an honorary doctorate of humane letters while Cosby roused the crowd with his outlandish facial expressions and signature Fat Albert 'hey, hey, hey.'

However, this wasn't the only honor Cosby received Thursday night. Not to be outdone, a member of the NoZe Brotherhood took the stage, making Cosby an honorary NoZe brother.

Cosby began his speech with a solemn moment meant to remember those, such as Patrick Dennehy, who have passed away and the grief that the families are still experiencing.

The solemn mood of the moment was set by the background music 'Ave Maria.'

'I want to raise a flag here and wake up the students, administration, faculty and the surrounding town and tell them that you have to have hope,' Cosby said. 'I just want the students to leave the rally and hear them say 'I had a good time. I feel good.''

To accomplish this, Cosby gave students a show that had them laughing nonstop.

'Tonight was the most hilarious thing I've ever seen in my life,' Anahita Abdeshahian, an Oklahoma City sophomore, said. 'Now I have a different outlook on how I treat my parents while I'm at school.'

Cosby told anecdotes of putting his daughter through college and brought up many experiences that the average college student could relate to, including dealing with a new environment, making time for strenuous workloads and maintaining a relationship with overprotective parents. He drove home the point of the unconditional love that a parent has for his or her child.

'[Cosby's] humor is personal - we can all relate to it because he talks about everyday situations,' Matt Day, an Orange sophomore, said.

While Cosby's delivery was humorous and raised the spirits of the students, his message was also serious, encouraging the crowd to have pride in Baylor, regardless of present circumstances.

'I am here because of you guys,' Cosby said. 'It had to do with the fact that I am 66 years old, and I have love for each and every one of you, and I want you to remember that this is your school.'