PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby performed in public for the first time since a sex abuse scandal embroiled him in 2015, joking that he ‘‘used to be a comedian’’ and playing with a jazz band in his hometown as a retrial looms in his sexual assault case.
The entertainer took the stage for about an hour Monday night at a Philadelphia jazz club for his first show since May 2015. Before a friendly crowd, he told stories, honored old friends, and finished by leading the band in a set, first using his mouth to scat in place of a missing horn section and then taking a turn at the drums.
Cosby, handing the drumsticks off to the bass player’s 11-year-old son, asked if the boy knew who he was and then told him. ‘‘I used to be a comedian,’’ Cosby deadpanned.
Cosby, 80, reminisced about his childhood, telling the crowd about how when he was 4 he grilled a relative about the impending birth of his brother. He mimicked his Uncle William, who took a swig from a cocktail before answering every question — including whether a stork was really delivering the baby to his parents.
The crowd laughed along with Cosby’s jokes, a far cry from how his last performances went. His last comedy tour ended amid protests as about 60 women were coming forward to accuse him of drugging and molesting them over five decades.