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Bill Cosby Back on Stage in Florida

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

For one night on a Florida stage, the weeks of headlines about sexual assaults disappeared and Bill Cosby, for 90 minutes at least, regained the revered status he long enjoyed.

The show Friday in Melbourne might have seemed destined for disaster for the comedian, who is enveloped in growing accusations of rape and sexual assault that have derailed his career comeback and crumbled his tour schedule.

What he got, though, was an adoring audience that laughed so hard they slapped their knees, shouted love at the stage and rose to their feet as he came and went.

The 2,000-seat theater beefed up security. Reporters swarmed.

But, in the end, just one protester stood outside, holding a sign that read, “Rape is no joke.”

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