The actor Bill Cosby, the 80s TV comedian who was convicted in Pennsylvania of a criminal sex assault charge in 2018, is looking to return to live performing next year, according to a report on Tuesday.
In a WGH Talk radio interview, 85-year-old Cosby answered “yes” when asked if he planned to tour again in 2023.
Cosby – once known as America’s Dad before numerous women accused him of sexually assaulting them – told radio host Scott Spears that he planned to return to the comedy circuit “because there’s so much fun to be had in this storytelling that I do”.
“Years ago, maybe 10 years ago, I found it was better to say it after I wrote it,” Cosby said. “I feel that I will be able to perform and be the Bill Cosby that my audience knows me to be.”
Some met Cosby’s plan to return to live performance with incredulity.
“Bill Cosby is going on tour,” comedy writer Rachael Millanta said on Twitter. “Tell me again how cancel culture has gone too far?”
Cosby was released in 2021 after nearly three years in prison when Pennsylvania’s state supreme court overturned his conviction. His spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, confirmed to Variety that the comedian was “looking … to start touring” in either the spring or summer.
Earlier this month, five women – including the Cosby Show actors Lili Bernard and Eden Thirl – filed a civil lawsuit in New York claiming Cosby “sexually abused or assaulted” them.
Bernard, Tirl and another plaintiff, Cindra Ladd, have previously spoken out about Cosby’s alleged behavior. They are joined in the suit by Jewel Gittens and Jennifer Thompson. The lawsuit was filed during a one-year “look-back” window allowing for the filing of sexual abuse complaints that otherwise might have been beyond key deadlines known as statutes of limitation.
The plaintiffs allege that Cosby either raped them or forced them into sexual acts. Four of the allegations date from the late 1980s or 1990s, when The Cosby Show aired on NBC.
NBC, along with Kaufman Astoria Studios and the Carsey-Werner Company, is named in the complaint that alleges the companies had “facilitated the sexual assault of women” by failing to check Cosby’s power and proclivities, failed to protect the women from being alone with him and profited from his work.
“It was well known that Bill Cosby would regularly take young women into his dressing room,” said a lawyer for the plaintiffs, Jordan Rutsky. He said “there were instances where staff saw this happening and even encouraged the plaintiff to submit”.
The fifth allegation involves Cindra Ladd, a former Hollywood executive who has accused Cosby of raping her in 1969 when she was 21. Ladd has said Cosby drugged and raped her.
Cosby’s spokesperson said: “Mr. Cosby continues to vehemently deny all allegations waged against him and looks forward to defending himself in court.”
Cosby was released from prison after Pennsylvania’s top appeals court overturned his conviction having found that a statement the comedian had made in a civil deposition should not have been used in criminal proceedings.
In March, the US supreme court turned away a bid by Pennsylvania prosecutors to reinstate Cosby’s conviction. The court said without elaborating that it had declined to hear the appeal.
Jurors in a civil trial in Los Angeles in June found Crosby liable for the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl at the Playboy Mansion in 1975. They awarded Judy Huth, 64, $500,000 after finding that Cosby intentionally caused harmful sexual contact with the teenager, whom he reasonably believed was under 18, and that his conduct was driven by unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in a minor.