You probably don't know this but Bill Cosby was a fan of monster movies when he was a kid. Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Dracula... he loved 'em all. Nowhere is this more apparent than his early comedy routines.
I can remember when I discovered Cosby's comedy when I was a kid of about 8 years old. One bored day I decided to rummage around the front hall closet (that's the one by the front door that we only seem to store stuff in, like bags of potatoes, bowling balls and huge winter coats) and down on the bottom, in the back where it's cold and dark, there was a box full of record LPs.
In amongst my mom's Beatles albums were 3 or 4 records by Bill Cosby. One had a photo of him on a go-cart. That's the one that caught my attention.
I loved these albums because not only were they wonderful tales being told by a great storyteller, but also because Cosby was talking about stuff that I was going through as a kid myself. Specifically a love of monster movies and scary things, even though they terrorized us both.
On the "Wonderfulness" record I got to a track called "Chicken Heart." "Chicken Heart" tells the tale of 7 year old Bill Cosby who loved to get scared listening to old radio dramas. His parents know his penchant for getting scared listening to these tales so they forbid him too, because they know that he will become so terrified that he'll do something stupid--- like smear Jello on the floor so the monsters will slip up and not be able to get to him.
I can totally relate to this tale as when I was younger, I would constantly terrify myself. My drug of choice? Ghost stories.
Couldn't get enough of 'em.
And they would scare the crap out of me.
I'd consistently borrow the same 3 ghost story books from my elementary school library.
Seriously if you were to look at the interior library card you'd just see my name line after line with a different colored date stamp every month.
---Yes I realize I'm dating myself talking about library cards being stamped--- pay attention--- I'm telling a story here...
I'd also be drawn to any ghost stories available on TV which, at that time, mainly consisted of any ghost segments on either Real People, In Search Of or That's Incredible. (They were sort of like Unsolved Mysteries or the modern day A Haunting Discovery series.)
Well after watching any of these segments on TV, especially if I was left home alone, I would become terrified and would turn on all the lights in the house, any radio or stereo in any room and turn up the TV volume after having found some "friendly" channel.
Of course, when my parents came home from whatever outing they had been off to, they would scold me "What the heck do you have every light in the house on for?! Do you think we own stock in the electric company?!" Etc. etc. etc.
I didn't care. I'd weather the storm because all the light and noise was the only thing that would keep me sane and cover up any noises or scares any ghosts who were in the house were going to make. In my mind, ghosts hated light and the friendly drone of Dallas.
But, back to Bill: So I related to his "Chicken Heart" tale. It made perfect sense.
Of course you would smear Jello on the floor to trip up the monsters, Bill. It's brilliant in its simplicity if you ask me.
"Revenge" is also the album that has the debut of Cosby's beloved Fat Albert character. In a tale called "Buck Buck" Cosby not only introduces the character to audiences but, as he puts it on the album "Now I told you THAT story so I could tell you THIS one," spins a second yarn about trying to scare Fat Albert with a giant Frankenstein statue.
In another bit of brilliance Cosby even has a tag-back to "9th Street Bridge" that links the bits together.
Listening to a master comic tell stories of monster movies, JuJyfruits and childhood innocence is both hysterical, and a trip down memory lane. You feel like you grew up with him even if your childhoods were decades apart.
So after you've watched your annual viewing of Fat Albert's Halloween Special on digital DVD dig that record player out of the basement and give 'em a spin complete with all the pops and hisses that go with antique vinyl.
Or make your life easy and just rip the CD's (links are below) and add 'em to your Halloween playlist.
Heck, here's links to two of the tracks as MP3's from Amazon.com.
9th Street Bridge
Isn't technology EASY?!
They're a great addition to your Halloween mix, and something fun to get you in the spirit in October.
Now don't go setting anything on fire...