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Comedian Bill Cosby is shown in New York on March 5, 2007.SETH WENIG/The Associated Press

Bill Cosby's Canadian fans proved they could separate the man from the allegations on Wednesday night when they gave him a standing ovation at a stand-up show in Kitchener, Ont., the same day three more women came forward with allegations the comedian sexually assaulted them.

But ticket holders first had to get through dozens of sign-toting protesters who stood outside the venue's entrance jeering, "You're supporting rape in our community!" and "Shame on you!" before the show.

Despite the chaos outside, Mr. Cosby, 77, performed a family-friendly 90-minute set in the auditorium at Centre in the Square without interruption.

Just a little more than half the seats were occupied. Many who bought tickets months ago tried to sell them on Kijiji or Craigslist for less than face value in the past few months, after several women – at least 18 – came forward alleging Mr. Cosby sexually assaulted them, sometimes allegedly drugging them beforehand.

Mr. Cosby has not been criminally charged and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

Rob Cloutier and his wife, Kim, showed up to attend the show because they spent $400 on their tickets months before the allegations against came to light. Mr. Cloutier said the media had "blown [the story] out of proportion" and suggested Mr. Cosby's accusers were seeking money.

"I think people thrive on drama," Ms. Cloutier said.

Protester Lois Iles said she was surprised Mr. Cosby was going through with his tour despite the serious nature of the allegations against him. She said she was standing outside the theatre in hopes of luring people to Voices Carry, a rival event on Wednesday night to which Cosby ticket holders were given free admission. The concert was organized to raise funds for two local organizations that support women and sexual assault victims.

"I'm ashamed in my youth I enjoyed his comedy," she said.

Mr. Cosby became a household name as the star of The Cosby Show, which aired for eight seasons on television. Many tickets for Wednesday's Kitchener show and Thursday's show in London, Ont., and Friday's in Hamilton were sold months before the sex-abuse allegations surfaced. Neither the venues nor the promoter are providing refunds.

Mayors of all three cities said they did not plan to attend Mr. Cosby's performances. London Mayor Matt Brown went so far as to say he believes the venue in his city, Budweiser Gardens, should cancel the show.

Several shows on Mr. Cosby's tour have been cancelled, as well as television projects that were in the works. The three shows in Southern Ontario had to go ahead because of contractual obligations, the host venues said.

Mr. Cosby has dismissed the allegations, and his wife of 50 years, Camille, and the actress who portrayed his wife on The Cosby Show, Phylicia Rashad, have spoken in the comedian's defence.

"What you're seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it's orchestrated," Ms. Rashad told a columnist with Showbiz411 on Tuesday.

While no one protested inside the theatre during Mr. Cosby's show on Wednesday, that may not be the case in the next two days.

Members of a "large group" of protesters have bought tickets to Friday's show in Hamilton or received donated tickets and plan to stage a "peaceful strategic disruption," said Anne Bokma, a Hamilton writer who has organized the disruption.

"These are people who really feel they have to do something. They want Cosby to see us. He's not going to see the outdoor protest, he'll be shielded from that," she said.

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