DENVER — Embattled comedian Bill Cosby told NBC News that the show must go on as he ignored protests over sexual-assault allegations and took the stage in Colorado Saturday night.
In a 15 minute phone call with NBC News hours before appearing at Denver's Buell Theater, the entertainer would not comment specifically on the growing list of accusations from more than 20 women.
Instead, he waxed enthusiastic about everything from his wife Camille to the perils of parenting and said his special "gift" of comedy must be shared with "the world."
"What you'll see tonight is history, you'll get to see me on stage. I will share this gift that was given to me with the people of Denver tonight," he said.
"You will see this wonderful gift on stage tonight [at the show] as well as the people of Denver," he added. "You will see a master at work."
His comments came on the heels of a packed show in Pueblo, Colorado, the night before, which incidentally took place on the 18th anniversary of his son Ennis’ murder during an attempted robbery along the 405 interstate in Los Angeles.
Although about two-dozen protesters rallied outside his performance, it concluded with no interruptions — unlike other recent shows that included outbursts from audience members removed by security guards. Cosby insisted that his son’s spirit helped make the Pueblo performance a resounding success, emphasizing that he’d hoped news of the show “in honor of Ennis” would help, “Camille smile” on an especially difficult day.
Protesters have turned up outside several of Cosby's shows in recent weeks — and Saturday's performances at the Buell Theater in Denver were no exception. Under the watchful eye of about 20 security guards, some demonstrators marched in circles chanting phrases such as, “no means no" and "rape is not a joke."
Backstage before the show, Chuck Morris — president and CEO of AEG Live Rocky Mountains, the promotion company that hosted Cosby — defended his decision to put the comedian onstage despite the allegations against him. Cosby, through his lawyer, has denied wrongdoing.
"We didn’t feel it was our place to play God, judge or jury, when Mr. Cosby has not been convicted or even charged with any crime," said Morris, who added that Cosby declined offers in recent weeks to cancel other shows.
"I felt that we had a moral obligation to go on with the show. We didn’t feel it was right to cancel a show based strictly on accusations. If there had been a conviction or an admission of guilt, it would have been a different story," he added.
Onstage at the 8 p.m. show, Cosby appeared unaffected by the fallout. Dressed in gray cargo pants and a matching "Hello Friend" hoodie, he was met by a standing ovation.