Monday, July 23, 2007

The Comedy of Bill Hicks

And now for something completely different from S.O.L.

Someone mentioned Bill Hicks on a message board I read today and it got me going back to my Bill Hicks stash for another listen. I'm glad I did. The thing about Bill Hicks his that is brand of funny hasn't gone out of style. I hope it never does.

Hicks was the Georgia-born, acid-tongued, straight-talking, audience-smacking comedian who was about to hit the big time when he died -- at age 32 -- of pancreatic cancer. He made his last recording in 1993 (preserved on CD) and it and most of his other work remains eerily prescient even today.

I've uploaded his rant about flag burning HERE on my Vox site.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones who got to see Hicks perform in person. The first and only time I did was the first time I'd ever heard his name, which made the whole experience even more exhilarating. It was probably back in 1989 or 1990 in a small comedy club in Washington, D.C. where I went with one of the pop culture critics of the paper where I was working.
I'll never forget the way I felt walking out of that club that night. I really thought I'd been in the presence of an asshole, a freaking genius of an asshole. It's hard to imagine me ever laughing as hard as I did that night -- but I admit most of the laughing was done hours later when I was thinking about what he'd said and realizing it was so freaking funny.

I think about Hicks a lot. As crazy as he was, as crass as he could be, he spoke truths and he stuck to his guns and had no sacred cows -- everybody was fair game. I always felt he lived the life of an artist in a really brave way and whenever I hold myself up to him, I always feel a little small.

Lucky for us his comedy lives on. We still need to hear it.


Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks for this, S.O.L. There is no one out there like Hicks.

Movies about comedians are a dicey proposition, but I always thought this guy could make for a good drama.

S.O.L. said...

undercover black man said ...

Movies about comedians are a dicey proposition, but I always thought this guy could make for a good drama.

Smart minds ... I actually outlined a film based on his life a few years ago just for the hell of it. Then I heard a movie was being made about Andy Kaufman and I figured that's one too many comedian trips, so I shelved it. Though I gather it might be tough to get the rights to his story from his family, I'd still like to give it a try someday.

His life has such a natural arc (out of the darkness, comes a fucked up genius). You could have a lot of fun with the scenes of him doing stand up. Be a gas to find an actor who really wanted to play the part and see if he could get the rights to it. I think this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime roles.

Undercover Black Man said...

It could be like "Lenny."