A talk with Malcolm-Jamal Warner at Joyce Littel’s Passion & Poetry Feb. 13

February 16, 2010,  by Rodney Ho

Malcolm-Jamal Warner may still be "That Cosby Show" aw-shucks son Theo in many people's minds, but he remains a busy actor who also happens to embrace spoken-word poetry. For the third time, he headlined Joyce Littel's Passion & Poetry shows on Saturday. (All three shows sold out.)

Littel, the former Quiet Storm jock who was let go last month from V-103 for budgetary reasons, acknowledged her departure from the station during Avery Sunshine's set. She sang ebulliently offkey about flying free. "I don't need no therapy," she said. She just needed to fly. She harbors no bitterness and was glad that V-103 continued to promote her Passion & Poetry show even though she was no longer there. (Whether V-103 will help her out next year without her having to pay for advertising remains to be seen.)

Warner ("The Cosby Show," "Malcolm & Eddie" "The Sherri Shepherd Show") was advertised as a headliner, but the show was a revue featuring multiple acts. He only spent 15 minutes on stage after intermission. Still, the crowd lapped up his sensual verbal aptitude, backed by a jazz band.

At one point, someone yelled, “One more, Theo!” He looked peeved and started haranguing the crowd in less-than-pleasant terms for referencing his character from years’ past. The audience hushed. But then he broke into that Cosby-esque smile, indicating he was just messing with them. “Theo,” he said, “has been good to me.”

As he told me below in this video interview, he's used to the Theo references, will probably get them the rest of his life, along the lines of Ron Howard being called Opie despite the fact he is now a big-time director. (Sure beats Bob Denver, who was probably called Gilligan, for better or worse, for decades.)

Warner said he got into spoken-word when he went to a show in the early 1990s and the women doing poetry were men bashing. He decided to come back and even the gender field a bit.