There is no greater badge of honor in the creative web world then the “cease and desist” letter. More than a few satires, tributes and criticisms have felt the sting of this legal c**k block. Many a Lucas fanboy (unless you’re famous and successful, like Seth Green) has gotten one. Anybody who has anything “interesting” to say about Scientology has gotten one. Really, it’s an “I have no sense of humor, so I’ll sue your poor ass” letter.
I never thought I’d have to utter these words: Bill Cosby has no sense of humor.
In June of 2005, the animated series House of Cosbys, the first series to go three months at #1 on Channel 101, was canceled after four episodes. By Cosby’s legal team. That sound you hear is the collective sound of a new generation of fans throwing their Bill Cosby Himself DVD’s out the window.
If you haven’t seen House of Cosbys, consider this your special New Years’ treat.
The world’s greatest Cosby fan, Mitch, has spent 10 years developing a cloning machine. He uses one of Bill’s hairs and starts cloning Cosbys. Now, everyone knows the more you clone the worse they get (see Michael Keaton in Multiplicity). The Cosby clones are no exception. The machine produces many quirky Cosbys including Curiosity Cosby, Bathtub Cosby, Dancing Cosby, Butt Naked Cosby and many more. My personal favorite: Useless Cosby.
Mitch discovers that every tenth Cosby has a special power. The first of these, Data Analysis Cosby helps Mitch build a compound to house the Cosbys. They then form a team of special Cosbys, the Cosby Team TriOsby, to fight for the good of the world.
Mitch is also able to find love with Cosbyette. Unfortunately, the machine also produces an Evil Cosby with sinister plans. After an epic battle against invading aliens, we are, unfortunately left with a hilariously dark cliff hanger. According to legend (and the web site), an episode 5 exists. If anyone has a copy, let us know. It never aired on the web because of this very real legal threat.
I envision black helicopters circling creator Justin Roiland’s house, just hovering, a Cosby SWAT team ready to strike. The truly funny thing is there really isn’t anything to take offense to. Cosbyette is a wee bit stereotypically hoochie mama, but other than that it’s a perfectly in-bounds swipe at the essence of Cosby. If he wants to start a legal war about how he is portrayed, than Keenan Thompson should already be in Guantanamo.
A lot of talented people had a hand in House of Cosbys. Most are Channel 101 regulars like co-director/animator Sevan Najarian. Comedy fans will also appreciate the contributions of Rob Schrab and The Lonely Island (most recently responsible for this gem ). House of Cosbys would easily fit in a line-up on Adult Swim (its animation is reminiscent of HBO’s The Life and Times of Tim). The point is that Cosby missed an opportunity here.
House of Cosbys is a love letter. The young talents behind the series have obviously seen Cosby’s stand-up many times. Cosby loses nothing by aligning himself with the technology and this youth movement. I don’t think there is any danger of him being remembered as some sort of parody of himself. Unless, of course, he starts to take himself too seriously. Unfortunately, the increasingly curmudgeonly Cosby did not see the humor.
Anyone with a passion for comedy starts with Cosby’s stand-up (or at least watched the ubiquitous sit-com). It’s the only thing we can sneak from our parents. He’s a gateway drug to Pryor, Murphy, Carlin, Kinison, Hicks, Hedberg, Chapelle, Galifianakis. If you never listened to Bill Cosby, go back and do it and then watch House of Cosbys (with its Pixies-esque theme song). It’s all comedy.
Hey, you never know, maybe he never viewed it and we can just blame the evil, attack dog lawyers. Cosby is a whip-smart dude. His depiction of upper-middle class African-American family life was at once hugely popular yet often scoffed at and labeled un-realistic. Look at us now. I’ll choose to believe it’s the lawyers. Maybe.