Bill Cosby could face up to 30 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in the conclusion of his retrial on Thursday. In a statement on Twitter, victim Andrea Constand, the former Temple University employee who first said Cosby assaulted her in 2004, wrote that “truth prevails” as a result of the verdict.
Comedian Hannibal Buress, however, has no comment on the case, as his publicist said when reached by email today. Buress, 35, is considered by some to be one of the cultural catalysts behind the events leading to Cosby’s conviction thanks to a 2014 Philly-filmed comedy bit about the comedian that went viral.
Now, Buress is preparing to perform a show in Philadelphia at the Merriam Theater on May 19. The show is a rare Philly performance for Buress, who has not brought a tour through Philadelphia proper since his Oct. 2014 date at the Trocadero, getting closest to the city last year with a gig at Camden’s BB&T Pavilion alongside Nas and Lauryn Hill. Tickets for his upcoming Philly show are currently on sale.
To date, about 60 women have publicly accused Cosby, 80, of sexual misconduct, with some alleged incidents dating back to the 1960s. Claims against the comedian didn’t gain traction, however, until Buress’ 2014 bit at the Troc in which the comedian said “you raped women, Bill Cosby.”
“Bill Cosby has the f—— smuggest old black man persona that I hate,” Buress said in 2014. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull up your pants black people, I was on TV in the 80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”
Buress added that he wanted to at least make it “weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns.”
“If you don’t know about it, trust me. When you leave here, Google ‘Bill Cosby Rape.’ That s— has more results than ‘Hannibal Buress.’”
Buress’ bit went viral thanks to then-Philadelphia magazine reporter Dan McQuade, who filmed the Cosby comments on his cell phone. The development resulted in increased media coverage around both Buress and the sexual assault allegations against Cosby, and dozens of women began to publicly make accusations against the former Cosby Show star.
As a result of the allegations against him, Cosby was forced to pull out of dates on a then-ongoing comedy tour, and lost a deal with NBC to produce a new sitcom, among other backlash. Several accusers also filed civil lawsuits against the comedian, with Cosby filing countersuits of his own in some cases. Ultimately, Constand’s case would be the only criminal charges filed against Cosby, but the initial court proceedings ended in a mistrial in June last year.
Buress spoke out about the firestorm of allegations against Cosby in a 2015 interview with GQ, saying that “people are going to put on you whatever they want to put on you.” In an interview with the Morning Call that year, he refused to discuss Cosby, and hung up on the reporter when asked.
“It is conflicting because people think I’m like this amazing guy or something,” he told GQ. “I’m a decent guy.”
Buress against spoke about Cosby in 2016 at Netflix panel discussion where he expressed surprise at the public’s reaction to his 2014 bit.
“I was calling a bunch of other comedians rapists, and that was the only one people took seriously,” he said. “That’s just one joke people took and really ran with it.”
That year, he also started joking about the incident in his standup, saying in his Netflix special Comedy Camisado in 2016 that the situation “got out of hand.”
“I was just doing a joke at the show. I didn’t like the media putting me at the forefront of it,” he said. “They were sly dissing me in the news: ‘Unknown comedian Hannibal Buress…’ ‘Brokeass comedian…Homeless comedian Hannibal Buress took the stage in Philly, covered in rags…’”
“People were writing me, ‘Bill Cosby’s not a rapist, you are.’ What? That’s not how that works,” he added.
Now, with Cosby potentially facing the rest of his life in jail, Buress appears to have little left to say. However, with his Philly date coming up, we won’t be surprised if some new material makes it into the set.