Recorded live at the Cleveland Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio.
Recording information: Cleveland Public Auditorium, Cleveland, OH.
Bill Cosby's records are still funny decades after they were made. Just as amazingly, even by 1968 his roughest obscenity was an emphatic "Jack" to punctuate the end of a phrase. The four shorter sketches on RUSSELL are mostly a set of riffs about being the dad of a pair of young daughters. However, it's the 26-minute title cut where Cosby really does his thing.
Cosby is so adept at changing characters, switching between the voices of his boyhood self and those of his younger brother and his father, all while maintaining a running a commentary in the present, that it's possible to completely forget that you're hearing just one guy onstage with a mike putting the whole thing down, including sound effects. The RUSSELL monologue is the story of two rambunctious kids sharing a bed in a small apartment late at night; Cosby reminds you in minute, eye-watering detail of how those little arguments over who hit who last could escalate into full-scale hostilities for which a looming Dad in the doorway was the final judge.