Bill Cosby on Making a Good ‘Muslim Cosby Show’

The actor, comedian and author called up The Root to set us straight about why the idea could actually work.

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation

“But if you did it the right way … [He trails off.]

“[As for things we could learn,] for example, a woman in Detroit said to me — we were talking about apathy — she said, ‘I was dating a black Muslim for 13 years, and he said to me, “Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel.” ‘ Now, listen to the wisdom of that statement. So many people leave things, hoping and thinking nothing bad will come, but knowing that bad things come when you don’t take your keys with you, when you don’t lock the door.”

The Root: How much impact could a “Muslim Cosby Show” really have on its own, separate from other cultural changes and education?

Bill Cosby: Way before you were born, they had Jews on [TV] who actually had the accents, and they spoke English. And we learned about what their favorite food was. The show was called The Goldbergs … and then of course the Jews slowly but surely began to put things out that put a mark on being Jewish. There are shows that put a mark on being Italian.

My point is to bring on the culture of the people who are living in America. It would be magnificent, because a Muslim is not the bogeyman, any more than a person who says, “I’m sorry, I don’t eat meat”; any more than when I was in high school during a Jewish holiday at Central High School in Philadelphia, my high school had a substitute teacher and there were four of us in class [because the teacher and a lot of the classmates were Jewish].

This is the United States of America. And as long as we have people who want the bogeyman, and people who are very, very lazy [are] making up [a list of] all kinds of people who don’t count — and helping Americans to continue to act unfairly and create a debacle — it’s not gonna be right.

TR: Who would play the lead in a “Muslim Cosby Show”? Are there any good Muslim comedians who could be up to the job (they asked this on The Daily Show spoof)?

BC: A Cosby actor wouldn’t be a comedian. It’s not comedy; it’s in the writing. This is something you’re going to start out with — not like George Lopez — and say, “Here’s the family. We live in America, and we adhere to our religion and our culture.” We’re not going to start out right away with people not wanting to watch it because of anger, et cetera. We don’t want them singing and dancing and acting in a “caricature” way.

What was Little House on the Prairie about?

TR: Family?

BC: Right. Now, when you go into a hospital and you look around, and you see doctors who are from Pakistan, from India, from Africa, you don’t say, “What is your religion?” …