The anticipated protesters at Bill Cosby's performance in Melbourne, Fla., Friday night at the King Center for the Performing Arts never materialized. Although extra security measures, including increased police presence and a ban on backstage passes, were in place, Cosby's show began and ended, according to journalists who tweeted about the event in real-time, with standing ovations.
It was Cosby's first high-profile appearance since sexual assault allegations were made against him, and the crowd's reaction could be seen as an early test of whether he has a viable career left in the wake of the allegations that have resulted in two lost TV shows on NBC and Netflix, canceled appearances on talk shows and numerous think-pieces declaring that his career is over.
"If he can't continue to perform," his biographer Mark Whitaker told the Daily Beast, "that will be the hardest thing for him. But if he can still go into arenas, and people will come and laugh at his stories, then he'll survive. That's what he's always cared about the most."
Hosts of “The News Junkie,” an Orlando radio program, had offered anyone attending who disrupted the performance $1,000 or a $200 Amazon gift certificates, according to both Mashable and Click Orlando. But the only person who spoke out during the event, according Mashable journalist Brian Hernandez in a tweet, was a woman who shouted, "We love you, Bill Cosby!"
CNN's Javier de Diego tweeted that Cosby was "sticking to jokes about childhood, religion, getting old," but a few of his jokes seemed loaded, particularly given the avalanche of sexual assault allegations against him.
Hernandez tweeted that Cosby said of women, "They own us," and at one point "offers to give advice to young guys in the audience." The comedian, who's been accused by numerous women of drugging them before sexually assaulting them, also told a story about trying a "highball" at a family dinner as a child, saying it made him sleepy.
The Los Angeles Times' Steven Zeitchik wrote in a tweet that he talked to a few people outside the venue, and when asked what they thought about the sexual assault allegations against Cosby, that they either shrugged or called them a "liberal conspiracy."
In the past week, a number of women have come forward to accuse Cosby of sexually assaulting them, including Barbara Bowman, who penned an op-ed piece in the Washington Post; "The Incredible Hulk" actor Lou Ferrigno's wife, Carla Ferrigno; former model Janice Dickinson; and Therese Serignese, a nurse from Florida.
Talked to about a half-dozen ticketholders outside #BillCosby show so far. Reactions to allegations range from shrug to liberal conspiracy
â€” Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikLAT) November 22, 2014
Awkward. "All of the women went crazy about a thing called high balls. HIGH BALLS" ~ Bill Cosby on childhood dinners pic.twitter.com/JgAboAEaJ0
â€” Brian A. Hernandez (@BAHjournalist) November 22, 2014