ABOVE: Cosby performed to a standing ovation inside the venue, while protesters called for the conviction of his alleged crimes outside. Cindy Pom reports.
TORONTO – Protesters shouted “shame on you” as fans entered the Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ont. for Bill Cosby’s first show since November and following sexual assault allegations from more than 18 women.
Despite the freezing temperatures protesters gathered outside the venue. Some attempting to block ticket holders from entering.
As the show began Cosby walked on stage to applause wearing a grey sweatshirt with his trademark “hello friend” printed on the front.
He opened the night by thanking the audience before moving on to jokes about Canada’s cold weather.
Before his appearance, the 77-year-old comedian promised fans the “show of their life” but also asked them to remain calm if any protestors try to interrupt the performance.
At least 18 women, including three who came forward on Wednesday, have accused Cosby of sexually assaulting them. He has not been charged with anything and, through his lawyer, has denied the allegations.
Cosby is also scheduled to perform in London, Ont. Thursday and Hamilton on Friday.
Aatif Baskanderi spent nearly $600 on tickets to Wednesday’s show in September for him and his family. But since hearing about the allegations against Cosby, his family has decided not to go and tried to sell the tickets.
“We just have absolutely no interest in going,” he said. “Right now, our respect and our hearts aren’t into it. So we couldn’t go there and have that same feeling until everything’s cleared up.”
WATCH: Aatif Baskanderi says he is selling the last ticket to the Bill Cosby at a 70 per cent discount to get rid of it.
Advocates for sexual assault victims have organized events in each city to raise awareness of the issue at the same time as Cosby’s shows.
“We chose to go the community route, raise some money, raise awareness, get conversations going,” said Melanie Baker, a co-organizer for the event in Kitchener which has been called Voices Carry. “To Cosby, the message is we’ve heard, we see, this isn’t going away.”
WATCH: Gloria Allred commends Canadians protesting against Cosby shows
U.S. attorney Gloria Allred, who has been representing women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, praised the efforts of Canadian activists who have organized protests ahead of Cosby’s shows.
“We see some brave women’s rights leaders in Canada speaking out against Mr. Cosby, who is performing his show there tonight, tomorrow and Friday,” Allred said. “Although we have never met these women, and have no contact with them, we are impressed by their protests and we are very grateful for their activism.”
Centre in The Square, the Kitchener venue, where Cosby is performing Wednesday, was criticized recently for not cancelling the event in the wake of the allegations by film director Judd Apatow.
Meanwhile, more than 300 people attended a parallel event in support of sexual assault victims called “Voice Carry” in Kitchener which organizers said raised $7459 for the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region and Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.
“There are thousands of survivors in our community who are watching and listening right now,” event organizers said in a media release.
“The collective message we sent is simple, yet incredibly powerful. You’re not alone. We believe you. We care.”
Review a live-blog of the event from Global News reporter Alan Carter and Cindy Pom.
*With files from The Canadian Press