She was only joking.
Comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish, who recently told the Los Angeles Times that she still had a desire to work with Bill Cosby, has clarified her remark amid the resulting backlash on social media and from representatives of the woman accusing the legendary entertainer of sexual assault.
Haddish, who currently stars alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah in the hit movie “Girls Trip,” told the Times that she still would work with Cosby, who still faces charges of drugging and assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand after a mistrial was declared in the case last month.
“I still want to work with Bill Cosby, I don’t care,” she said in the Times interview. “I’ll drink the juice. I’ll take a nap. I don’t give a damn. But seriously, I would love for him to play my grandfather in something.”
Twitter users were quick to respond.
One user wrote on Twitter, “I’ve been rooting hard for Tiffany Haddish but I find nothing funny about her making light of Bill Cosby drugging women.”
Another user wrote, “Waiting for @TiffanyHaddish to issue her apology lol.” One more chimed in, “I really wish Tiffany Haddish hadn’t said that about Bill Cosby.”
As the criticism mounted, Haddish clarified her comment Thursday during a press event in Beverly Hills.
“What I said was a joke. You’re going to say some bad jokes,” she said.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents as many as 30 women who claim the comedic icon assaulted them, assailed Haddish.
“Ms. Haddish appears to have made a laughing matter of the serious issue of drugging and sexual assault, but drugging and sexual assault are not a laughing matter,” Allred said in a television interview. “These allegations against Mr. Cosby are serious and not funny and should not be made the subject matter of attempted humor. Ms. Haddish should consider apologizing to those individuals who have been victims of sexual assault after being drugged.”
Earlier this year, members of Cosby’s team noted that Allred had tried to “shake Cosby down,” when she demanded he put $100 million in a trust that would go to his alleged victims.
Despite having never been convicted of any of the allegations, Cosby has been persona non grata in and outside of Hollywood, unlike other entertainers who have or currently face accusations that are just as serious or — in some cases — more scurrilous.
Haddish said her point was that she’s not afraid to do anything.
“I’m not afraid to play any kind of girl as long as it doesn’t compromise my morals,” she said. “I’ve been through things, I’ve been victimized. I don’t agree with what he did or anything, but, at the end of the day, I’m not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. That’s what I was trying to say, and I was trying to do it in a humorous way.”
Still, Cosby, the first African-American to have a leading role in a television series and whose 1980s mega-hit “The Cosby Show” saved NBC from doom, has always maintained his innocence.
Lawsuits brought against Cosby by women alleging assault have repeatedly been tossed out of court.
While a criminal jury in June deadlocked on charges that Cosby drugged and assaulted Constand, prosecutors have moved forward with a retrial scheduled to start in November.
“The evidence won’t get any better but the tactics of the district attorney may improve,” said Jody D. Amour, a law professor at the University of Southern California. “It’s still going to be a very tough case for the State to prevail on and if it weren’t such a high-profile case, the District Attorney probably would not take another bite at this particular apple.”
Most legal commentators will say that, as a general matter, the prosecution’s case gets weaker with a retrial, said Robert Weisberg, a professor of law at Stanford University.
“Obviously one key factor is the deadlock vote,” Weisberg said. “If, as one report says, it was 10-2 for conviction, retrial seems pretty feasible. But if, as another report said, it was 7-5, then not so much.
“Finally, given the length of testimony and cross-examination of the complainant here, I doubt that we can point to strategic errors by either side the correction of which would change things much,” he said. “This just looks like factually muddy case, and the prosecutor probably faces a challenge.”