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Cosby jokes: 'You have to be careful about drinking around me'

In his first public comments alluding to the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, Cosby made a joke alluding to claims he has drugged multiple women.
Comedian Bill Cosby performs at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts, in Melbourne, Fla., on Nov. 21, 2014.
Comedian Bill Cosby performs at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts, in Melbourne, Fla., on Nov. 21, 2014.

Comedian Bill Cosby made a joke alluding to claims that he has drugged multiple women at a Thursday stand-up performance at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.

According to several witnesses, Cosby quipped, "You have to be careful about drinking around me," to a woman in the front row who reportedly was exiting to get a beverage and offered to grab him one. Over 30 women have accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, including former model Beverly Johnson, who claimed last month that Cosby drugged her cup of coffee during an encounter in his New York City home in 1986.

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Previously, Cosby has said he would not speak publicly on the mounting allegations against him. However, last December, in what his attorneys claim was a surreptitiously recorded interview with the predominately African-American publication The Washington Statesman, Cosby was quoted as saying he expected the black press to remain "neutral" while covering the controversy.

The joke allegedly got a mixed reception from some in attendance, while the 77-year-old comedian had to contend with hecklers (one of whom reportedly called Cosby a "rapist") for the first time since allegations against him got renewed media coverage last fall. There were also protesters outside the venue.

After the show, Cosby released a statement through his publicist, which read: "Dear Fans: One outburst but over 2600 loyal, patient and courageous fans enjoyed the most wonderful medicine that exist for human-kind. Laughter. I thank you, the theatre staff (Budweiser Gardens), the event organizers and the London, ON Community for your continued honor and support. I'm Far From Finished."

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Although Cosby has never been charged with a crime and has denied allegations in the past, his image has undeniably been tarnished by eerily similar accusations alleging sexual assault and misconduct over several decades. While the statute of limitations has expired in the cases of all his accusers, Cosby has been sued for defamation by some women who claim he assaulted them. His attorney Marty Singer has called the allegations "unsubstantiated" and "fantastical."

Cosby has one more performance scheduled for Friday in Ontario before he returns to the U.S. for a Jan. 17 show in Denver, Colorado.