Bill Cosby received a standing ovation at the end of his first live performance in Canada.

The TV entertainer was kicking off his one man show when the sex scandal first broke. Ten dates on his North American stand-up tour, as well as some scheduled TV appearances, were cancelled following the initial allegations which surfaced last autumn. He last appeared in Melbourne, Florida on 21 November 2014.

The 77-year-old has been accused of historical sexual assault and rape by 15 women. Three more victims came forward on Wednesday.

The show in Kitchener, Ontario was the first of a three-date tour in Canada. At the end of the performance he told the Ontario audience he had had "a wonderful time".

In a statement released after the Ontario show, Cosby said: "Dear Fans: I would like to personally thank you for giving me the opportunity to bring laughter back into your lives tonight. Also, I would like to applaud all of you and give you a standing ovation for respecting yourselves, the theatre and the event organisers that produced a spectacular show for the Kitchener Community."

More than a dozen protesters gathered outside the Centre in the Square bearing placards stating 'rape is no joke'. The protestors attempted to block the entrance to the venue, before being asked to move by security. Some ticket-holders had said they would boycott the performance. The 2,000-seat venue was about two-thirds full.

Cosby already faces more than 25 historic accusations of sexual assault and rape, with some of the complaints made by high profile women such as supermodels Janice Dickenson and Vogue cover girl Beverley Johnson.

Fans attending the show expressed their doubts at the legitimacy of the accusations. "Why are 20 women coming out now when it's 20, 30 years ago?" said one.

"Innocent until proven guilty. I'm hoping it's not true and until I know, otherwise I love him to death," said another.

Protestor Aaron Cornish commented that Cosby "can't hide from the 27 women" who have come forward by using "publicity and fames and jokes". "People going inside are ignoring that," he said.

The actor is scheduled to appear at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario on Thursday and at the Hamilton Place Theatre, Hamilton on Friday.

Cosby played the much-loved Dr Heathcliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992. His screen wife in the show, Phylicia Rashad, has said allegations of historical sex offences against her former co-star are part of a campaign to keep him off TV.

His on screen daughter Keshia Knight Pulliam said while she could not comment on the alleged experiences of his accusers, she knew him as a wonderful, kind and philanthropic man.

The star, who has not been charged, has denied previous claims, calling them "fantastical" and "uncorroborated".