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Bill Hicks
Bill Hicks image.jpg
Birth name William Melvin Hicks
Born December 16, 1961(1961-12-16)
Valdosta, Georgia, U.S.
Died February 26, 1994 (aged 32)
Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Medium Stand-up, music
Nationality American
Years active 1978-1994
Genres Black comedy, observational comedy, satire/political satire
Subject(s) American culture, American politics, current events, pop culture, human sexuality, philosophy, religion, spirituality, recreational drug use, entheogens, conspiracy theories, consumerism
Influences Woody Allen, George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, Sam Kinison, Terence McKenna, Noam Chomsky
Influenced Denis Leary, Doug Stanhope, Lewis Black, Ron White, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Dave Attell, Andy Andrist, Joe Rogan, Tool
Website billhicks.com

William Melvin "Bill" Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian and social critic. His humor challenged mainstream beliefs, aiming to "enlighten people to think for themselves."[1] Hicks used a ribald approach to express his material, describing himself as "Chomsky with dick jokes."[1] His jokes included general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy and personal issues. Hicks' material was often deliberately controversial and steeped in dark comedy. In both his stand-up performances, and during interviews, he often criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity and banality within the media and popular culture, describing them as oppressive tools of the ruling class, meant to "keep people stupid and apathetic."[2]

Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. In the years after his death, his work and legacy achieved significant admiration and acclaim, of numerous comedians, fans, writers and musicians alike. He was listed as the 19th greatest stand-up comedian of all time by Comedy Central in 2004 and the 6th greatest by the British Channel 4 in 2007.

Contents

Early life

Born in Valdosta, Georgia, Bill Hicks was the son of Jim and Mary (Reese) Hicks, and had two elder siblings, Steve and Lynn. The family lived in Florida, Alabama and New Jersey, before settling in Houston, Texas, when Hicks was seven. He was raised in the Southern Baptist faith, where he first began performing as a comedian to other children at Sunday School.[3]

He was drawn to comedy at an early age, emulating Woody Allen and Richard Pryor, and writing routines with his friend Dwight Slade. Worried about his behavior, his parents took him to a psychoanalyst at age 17 but, according to Hicks, after one session the psychoanalyst informed him that "...it's them, not you."[3]

In 1978, Hicks, along with friends Slade, Ben Dunn, John S. and Kevin Booth, began performing at the Comedy Workshop in Houston. At first, Hicks was unable to drive to venues independently and was so young that he needed a special work permit to perform. By the autumn of 1978 he had worked his way up to performing once every Tuesday night, while still attending Stratford High School. He was well-received and started developing his improvisational skills, although his act at the time was limited.

California and New York

In 1986, Hicks found himself broke, but his career received another upturn as he appeared on Rodney Dangerfield's Young Comedians Special, in 1987. The same year, he moved to New York City, and for the next five years he did about 300 performances a year. On the album Relentless, he jokes that he quit using drugs because "once you've been taken aboard a UFO, it's kind of hard to top that", although in his performances, he continued to extol the virtues of LSD, marijuana, and psychedelic mushrooms.[4] He fell back to chain-smoking,[5] a theme that would figure heavily in his performances from then on.

In 1988 Hicks signed on with his first professional business manager, Jack Mondrus. Throughout 1989, Mondrus worked to convince many clubs to book Hicks, promising that the wild drug- and alcohol-induced behavior was behind him. Among the club managers hiring the newly sober Hicks was Colleen McGarr, who would become his girlfriend and fiancée in later years.

In 1989 he released his first video, Sane Man.[6] It was reissued in 2006.

Early fame

In 1990, Hicks released his first album, Dangerous, performed on the HBO special One Night Stand, and performed at Montreal's Just for Laughs festival.[7] He was also part of a group of American stand-up comedians performing in London's West End in November (or December[8]). Hicks was a huge hit in the UK and Ireland and continued touring there throughout 1991. That year, he returned to the Just for Laughs festival and recorded his second album, Relentless.

Hicks made a brief detour into musical recording with the eponymous Marble Head Johnson album in 1992. In November (or December[9]), he toured the UK, where he recorded the Revelations video for Channel 4. He closed the show with "It's Just a Ride", one of his most famous and life-affirming philosophies. Also in that tour he recorded the stand-up performance released in its entirety on a double CD titled Salvation. Hicks was voted "Hot Standup Comic" by Rolling Stone magazine. He moved to Los Angeles in early 1993.

Censorship and aftermath

On October 1, 1993, about five months before his death, Hicks was scheduled to appear on Late Show with David Letterman, his twelfth appearance on a Letterman late night show (his prior 11 appearances having been on Late Night with David Letterman), but his entire performance was removed from the broadcast — then the only occasion where a comedian's entire routine was cut after taping. Hicks' stand-up routine was removed from the show allegedly because Letterman and his producer were nervous about Hicks' religious jokes. Hicks said he believed it was due to a pro-life commercial aired during a commercial break.[10] Both the show's producers and CBS denied responsibility. Hicks expressed his feelings of betrayal in a letter to John Lahr of The New Yorker.[11][12] Although Letterman later expressed regret at the way Hicks had been handled, Hicks did not appear on the show again. The full account of this incident was featured in a New Yorker profile by Lahr[11], which was later published as a chapter in Lahr's book, Light Fantastic.[13]

Hicks' mother, Mary, appeared on the January 30, 2009, episode of Late Show. Letterman played Hicks' routine in its entirety. Letterman took full responsibility for the original censorship and apologized to Mrs. Hicks. Letterman also declared he did not know what he was thinking when he pulled the routine from the original show in 1993. Letterman said, "It says more about me as a guy than it says about Bill because there was absolutely nothing wrong with it."[14][15]

Cancer diagnosis and death

In April 1993, while touring in Australia, Hicks started complaining of pains in his side, and on June 16 of that year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver.[16] He started receiving weekly chemotherapy, while still touring and also recording his album, Arizona Bay, with Kevin Booth. He was also working with comedian Fallon Woodland on a pilot episode of a new talk show, titled Counts of the Netherworld for Channel 4 at the time of his death. The budget and concept had been approved, and a pilot was filmed. The Counts of the Netherworld pilot was shown at the various Tenth Anniversary Tribute Night events around the world on February 26, 2004.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Hicks would often joke openly at performances exclaiming it would be his last. Hicks performed the actual final show of his career at Caroline's in New York on January 6, 1994. He moved back to his parents' house in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly thereafter. He called his friends to say goodbye, before he stopped speaking on February 14[citation needed], and re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.[17] He spent time with his parents, playing them the music he loved and showing them documentaries about his interests. He died of cancer in the presence of his parents at 11:20 p.m. on February 26, 1994.[18] Hicks was buried in the family plot in Leakesville, Mississippi.

On February 7, 1994, after his diagnosis with cancer, Hicks authored a short prayer on his perspective, wishes and thanks of his of life, to be released after his death as his "last word",[16] ending with the words:

I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.

The Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife Rehabilitation, dedicated to Hicks in tribute to his love of animals, rescues and rehabilitates injured wildlife in the Texas Hill Country.[19]

Comic style

Bill Hicks's style was a play on his audience's emotions. He expressed anger, disgust and apathy while addressing the audience in a casual and personal manner, often making eye contact with individual audience members in smaller venues.

Hicks' material was less focused on the everyday banalities of life and placed greater emphasis on philosophical themes of existence. He would invite his audiences to challenge authority and the existential nature of "accepted truth." One such message, which he often used in his shows, was delivered in the style of a news report:

Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration — that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death; life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... Here's Tom with the weather! [20]

Another of Hicks' most famous quotes was delivered during a gig in Chicago in 1989 (later released as the bootleg I'm Sorry, Folks). After a heckler repeatedly shouted "Free Bird", Hicks screamed that "Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever!" Hicks followed this remark with a misanthropic tirade calling for unbiased genocide against the whole of humanity.[21]

Much of Hicks' routine involved direct attacks on mainstream society, religion, politics, and consumerism. Asked in a BBC interview why he cannot do a routine that appeals "to everyone", he said that such an act was impossible. He responded by repeating a comment an audience member once made to him, "We don't come to comedy to think!", to which he replied, "Gee! Where do you go to think? I'll meet you there!" In the same interview, he also said: "My way is half-way between: this is a night-club, and these are adults." [22]

Hicks often discussed conspiracy theories in his performances, most notably the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He mocked the Warren Report and the official version of Lee Harvey Oswald as a "lone nut assassin." He also questioned the guilt of David Koresh and the Branch Davidian compound during the Waco Siege.

Hicks would end some of his shows — and especially those being recorded in front of larger audiences as albums — with a mock "assassination" of himself on stage, making gunshot sound effects into the microphone and falling to the ground.

Hicks and Denis Leary

For many years, Hicks was friends with fellow comedian Denis Leary. However, in 1993, Hicks was angered upon hearing Leary's album No Cure for Cancer.[23] While he had laughed off similarities between the two comedians before, the parallels between the album and Hicks' material (including jokes about smoking, Jim Fixx, and Judas Priest) and tone were clear. Reportedly, upon hearing the album, "Bill was furious. All these years, aside from the occasional jibe, he had pretty much shrugged off Leary's lifting. Comedians borrowed, stole stuff, and even bought bits from one another. Milton Berle and Robin Williams were famous for it. This was different. Leary had, practically line for line, taken huge chunks of Bill's act and recorded it."[24]

The friendship ended abruptly as a result.[25] At least three stand-up comedians have gone on the record stating they believe Leary stole Hicks' material as well as his persona and attitude.[26][27][28] In an interview, when Hicks was asked why he had quit smoking, he answered, "I just wanted to see if Denis would, too."[29] In another interview, Hicks famously told an interviewer: "I have a scoop for you. I stole his [Leary's] act. I camouflaged it with punchlines, and to really throw people off, I did it before he did."[30]

The controversy surrounding plagiarism is also mentioned in American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story, by Cynthia True:

Leary was in Montreal hosting the "Nasty Show" at Club Soda, and Colleen [McGarr?] was coordinating the talent so she stood backstage and overheard Leary doing material incredibly similar to old Hicks riffs, including his perennial Jim Fixx joke: ("Keith Richards outlived Jim Fixx, the runner and health nut dude. The plot thickens."). When Leary came offstage, Colleen, more stunned than angry, said, "Hey, you know that's Bill Hicks' material! Do you know that's his material?" Leary stood there, stared at her without saying a word, and briskly left the dressing room.[24]

During a 2003 roast of Denis Leary, comedian Lenny Clarke, a friend of Leary's, said there was a carton of cigarettes backstage from Bill Hicks with the message, "Wish I had gotten these to you sooner." This joke was cut from the final broadcast.[31]

In a 2008 interview, Leary said "It wouldn’t have been an issue, I think, if Bill had lived. It’s just that people look at a tragedy and they look at that circumstance and they go, oh, this must be how we can explain this."[32]

Hicks and Tool

Alternate version of the Tool's Ænima artwork shows a dedication to Bill Hicks as "another dead hero".

The progressive metal band Tool invited Hicks to open a number of concerts for them on their 1993 Lollapalooza appearances, where Hicks once famously asked the audience to look for a contact lens he'd lost. Thousands of people complied.[33] Tool singer Maynard James Keenan so enjoyed this joke that he repeated it on a number of occasions. Keenan, who worked as a comedian in Los Angeles prior to Tool, met and befriended Hicks through mutual friends and performing at the same venues.

Tool dedicated their triple-platinum [34] album Ænima (1996) to Bill Hicks. The band intended to raise awareness about Hicks's material and ideas, because they felt that Tool and Hicks "were resonating similar concepts".[35] In particular, Ænima's final track Third Eye is preceded by a clip of Hicks' performances, and both the lenticular casing of the Ænima album packaging as well as the chorus of the title track "Ænema" make reference to a sketch from Hicks' Arizona Bay philosophy, in which he contemplates the idea of Los Angeles falling into the Pacific Ocean. The closing track "Third Eye" contains samples from Hicks' Dangerous and Relentless ,[35][36] An alternate version of the Ænima artwork shows a painting of Bill Hicks and mentions of Hicks are found both in the liner notes and on record.

Legacy

Arizona Bay and Rant in E-Minor were released posthumously in 1997 on the Voices imprint of the Rykodisc label. Dangerous and Relentless were also re-released by Rykodisc on the same date.

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, fellow comedians and comedy insiders voted Hicks #13 on their list of "The Top 20 Greatest Comedy Acts Ever". Likewise, in "Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time" (2004), Hicks was ranked at #19. In March 2007, Channel 4 ran a poll, "The Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time," in which Hicks was voted #6.[37]

Devotees of Hicks have incorporated his words, image, and attitude into their own creations. Because of audio sampling, fragments of Hicks' rants, diatribes, social criticisms, and philosophies have found their way into many musical works, such as the live version of Super Furry Animals' "Man Don't Give A Fuck". His influence on Tool is well documented; he "appears" on the Fila Brazillia album Maim That Tune (1996) and on SPA's self titled album SPA (1997), which are both dedicated to Hicks; the British band Radiohead's second album The Bends (1995) is also dedicated to his memory. Singer/songwriter Tom Waits listed Rant in E Minor as one of his 20 most cherished albums of all time.[38] The UK band Shack released an album in August 2003 quoting a Bill Hicks routine in the title: Here's Tom With the Weather. The album also included other Bill Hicks quotes in the liner notes. English breakbeat artist Adam Freeland sampled Revelations for his track "We Want Your Soul." Welsh punk rock band Mclusky reference a Hicks routine in the lyrics to their song "To Hell With Good Intentions". Punk cabaret musician Amanda Palmer says, "I have my new Bill Hicks CD" in the song "Another Year" on her 2008 album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. The Swedish indie pop singer/songwriter Jens Lekman has written a song called "People who Hate People Come Together" after the same Hicks quote. The last track of The Kleptones album Yoshimi Battles the Hip-Hop Robots, Last Words (A Tribute), includes his "It's just a ride" in its entirety.[citation needed]

Hamell On Trial's 1999 album Choochtown includes the song "Bill Hicks," featuring the lyric "I wish Billl Hicks was alive/I wish Bill Hicks had survived," as well at the instrumental tribute "Bill Hicks (Ascension)."

Rappers Adil Omar and Vinnie Paz have also cited Hicks as an influence to their work; contemporary comedians David Cross and Russell Brand have stated that they were inspired by Hicks.[39][40] Irish Independent columnist Ian O'Doherty is also a great admirer of Hicks.

On their 2009 Album 'There Is No Enemy' Built To Spill released the song 'Planting Seeds' with the lyrics "I've heard that they'll sell anything and I think they might...I think Bill Hicks was right...about what they should do." referring to his stand up routine which asks marketers to kill themselves. The song title refers to a bit in the same routine when Bill explains, "Just planting seeds here, folks.".

The British film Human Traffic referred to him as the "late prophet Bill Hicks," and portrays the main character, Jip, watching Hicks' stand-up before going out to "remind me not to take life too seriously". Hicks even appears in the comic book Preacher, in which he is an important influence on the protagonist, Rev. Jesse Custer. His opening voice-over to the 1991 Revelations live show is also quoted in Preacher's last issue.[citation needed]

The British actor Chas Early portrayed Hicks in the one-man stage show Bill Hicks: Slight Return, which premiered in 2005.

On February 25, 2004, British MP Stephen Pound tabled an early day motion titled "Anniversary of the Death of Bill Hicks" (EDM 678 of the 2003-04 session), the text of which was as follows:

That this House notes with sadness the 10th anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks, on 26th February 1994, at the age of 32; recalls his assertion that his words would be a bullet in the heart of consumerism, capitalism and the American Dream; and mourns the passing of one of the few people who may be mentioned as being worth [sic] of inclusion with Lenny Bruce and George Carlin in any list of unflinching and painfully honest political philosophers.[41]

Film and documentary

A film about Hicks' life and career, rumored to be directed by Ron Howard, is said to be in pre-production. Russell Crowe has been mentioned as one of the producers and may portray Hicks as well.[42]

A documentary entitled 'American: The Bill Hicks Story,' based on interviews with his family and friends, premiered on March 12, 2010, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.[43]

Discography

References

Notes

  1. ^ a b Shugart, Karen. "Bill Hicks: 'Chomsky with Dick Jokes". Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. http://web.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/coveringideas/jokes.asp. Retrieved 2009-11-10. 
  2. ^ See Vide.Google.com, Bill Hicks on David Letterman Censorship
  3. ^ a b Bill Hicks: Love all the people(Constable, 2004)
  4. ^ See Sane Man and Rant in E Minor.
  5. ^ Allmusic.com
  6. ^ Bill Hicks: Sane Man (1989) at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Outhwaite, Paul. Bill Hicks biography.
  8. ^ My diary.
  9. ^ My diary.
  10. ^ CapZeyeZ. Austin Public Access, Austin, TX. 1993-10-24.
  11. ^ a b John Lahr. "The Goat Boy Rises". The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1993/11/01/1993_11_01_113_TNY_CARDS_000365503. 
  12. ^ "Bill Hicks Biography". http://www.billhicks.com/bio.html. 
  13. ^ Lahr, John. Light Fantastic. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. ISBN 978-0747530794. http://www.johnlahr.com/light.html. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  14. ^ [|steve hpc] (February 3, 2009), David Letterman Airs the 'Lost' Bill Hick's Routine, Entertainment Weekly, http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/02/03/david-letterman/, retrieved January 15, 2009} 
  15. ^ Crosbie, Lynn (February 3, 2009). "The Globe Review Column; Pop Rocks; A Pop-Culture Epiphany; David Letterman's Apology to Mary Hicks". The Globe and Mail. p. R1. 
  16. ^ a b Bill Hicks. "Last Word". BillHicks.com. Bill Hicks. http://www.billhicks.com/last-word.html. Retrieved 2007-06-05. 
  17. ^ "Liner notes for "Philosophy: The Best of Bill Hicks"". Rykodisc. http://www.billhicks.com/phil-contents.html. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  18. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (2004-02-23). "Bill Hicks: Why the fuss, exactly?". BBC News (BBC). Archived from the original on 2004-02-25. http://web.archive.org/web/20040225020806/http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3513475.stm. Retrieved 2006-03-03. 
  19. ^ BillHicks.org
  20. ^ Extract from Revelations, London, 1993. The extract is part of the concluding track to the album, called "It's Just a Ride", in which he essentially outlines his world view.
  21. ^ Freebird! at YouTube. Retrieved on 2009-12-23. Quote: "Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever."
  22. ^ Bill Hicks Interview BBC2 1992 at YouTube from the episode A Question of Taste, part the BBC's "Funny Business" series. Retrieved on 2009-12-23.
  23. ^ Outhwaite, Paul (November 2003). One Consciousness: An Analysis of Bill Hicks's Comedy, 3rd edition, D.M. Productions. ISBN 0-9537461-3-5.
  24. ^ a b Cynthia True (2002). American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story. Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 0-380-80377-1. 
  25. ^ Kevin Booth and Michael Bertin (2005). Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-719829-9. 
  26. ^ Joe Rogan (2005). "Carlos Mencia is a weak minded joke thief". JoeRogan.net. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. http://web.archive.org/web/20070607224107/http://blog.joerogan.net/archives/92. Retrieved 2006-10-28. 
  27. ^ Rogan, Joe. Interview. Playboy Magazine. October 2003.
  28. ^ Tim McIntire (1998). "Dark Times: Bill Hicks: Frequently Asked Questions". BillHicks.com. Archived from the original on 2006-10-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20060320081614/http://www.billhicks.com/darktimes/other/darktimes20/faq/faq.html. Retrieved 2006-10-28. 
  29. ^ Sabrina Jalees (2006-10-17). "Nothing funny about joke thieves". The Star. 
  30. ^ Doug Stern (April 1993). "Profile: Bill Hicks". Austin Comedy News. http://www.gavinsblog.com/probill.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-22. 
  31. ^ "Roasting a Comic They Turn Up the Flames Gently". Boston Globe. 2003-08-10. Archived from the original on 2003-08-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20030811054820/http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/222/living/Roasting_a_comic_they_turn_up_the_flames_gently+.shtml.  (Dead link as of at least March 26, 2009.)
  32. ^ Bullz-Eye.com
  33. ^ "It's Only a Ride: Bill Hicks". interview with Kevin Booth. Fade To Black. http://www.fadetoblack.com/interviews/billhicks/13.html. Retrieved 2006-03-03. 
  34. ^ Theiner, Manny (2006-09-28). "Concert Review: Tool's prog pleases populace". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06271/725443-42.stm. "...from its triple-platinum 1996 release, "Ænima."" 
  35. ^ a b Langer, Andy (May 1997). "Another Dead Hero". The Austin Chronicle. 
  36. ^ Zwick, John (February 25, 2004). "Dead 10 years, Hicks still makes us laugh". University of Colorado Denver Advocate. Archived from the original on October 7, 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071007091109/http://www.ucdadvocate.com/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticle&ustory_id=f13de017-3fd8-4f74-9abd-9f3f54482961. Retrieved April 9, 2007. 
  37. ^ "100 Greatest Comedy Stand-ups vote from channel4.com". Channel 4. http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/C/comedy_standups/. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  38. ^ Tom Waits (2005-03-20). "What the stars are listening to: 'It's perfect madness'". The Observer (The Guardian). http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2005/mar/20/popandrock1. Retrieved 2009-12-23. "Bill Hicks, blowtorch, excavator, truthsayer and brain specialist, like a reverend waving a gun around." 
  39. ^ SimonGuilford.com
  40. ^ VanityFair.com
  41. ^ "Anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks". Parliamentary Information Management Services. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=25411. Retrieved 2006-03-03. 
  42. ^ "Rusty relaxes as film takes leaf of absence". The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/news/people/rusty-relaxes-as-film-takes-leaf-of-absence/2008/08/16/1218307309396.html. 
  43. ^ American: The Bill Hicks Story

Further reading

  • Booth, Kevin; Michael Bertin (March 2005). Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution. New York, New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-719829-9. 
  • Hicks, Bill (2004). Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines. ISBN 1-84119-878-1 (UK edition), ISBN 1-932360-65-4 (US edition). 
  • Kaufman, Will (1997). Comedian As Confidence Man: Studies in Irony Fatigue. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2657-9. 
  • Mack, Ben; Kristin Pulkkinen (October 2005). What Would Bill Hicks Say?. ISBN 1-933368-01-2. 
  • Newfield, Jack (2003). American Rebels. New York, NY: Nation books. ISBN 1-56025-543-9. 
  • Outhwaite, Paul (November 2003). One Consciousness: An Analysis of Bill Hicks' Comedy (3rd edition ed.). D.M. Productions. ISBN 0-9537461-3-5. 
  • True, Cynthia (2002). American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story. New York, NY: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-380-80377-1. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

William Melvin Hicks, better known as Bill Hicks (1961-12-161994-02-26), was an American stand-up comedian, satirist and social critic.

Contents

Sourced

  • The idea of getting a, you know, syringe full of heroin and shooting it in the vein under my cock right now seems like almost a productive act.
    • I'm Sorry Folks (1989)
  • [Someone in the crowd yells "Freebird."] Please quit yelling that. It's not funny, it's not clever; it's stupid, it's repetitive, why the fuck would you continue to yell that? I'm serious. [The same man yells something back.] "Kevin Matthews"; Okay, what does that mean now? Now what does it mean? I understand where it comes from, so do you, now what does it all mean? What is the culmination of yelling that? [The same man yells back again.] Jimmy Shorts: he's not here, he's not gonna be here. Now what? Now where are we? We're here at you interrupting me again, you fucking idiot. That's you. You see, we are here at the same point again where you, the fucking peon masses, can once again ruin anyone who tries to do anything because you don't know how to do it on your own! That's where we're fucking at! Once again the useless wastes of fucking flesh that has ruined everything good in this goddamn world! That's where we're at. Hitler had the right idea! he was just an underachiever! Kill' em all, Adolf! All of 'em! Jew, Mexican, American, White, kill 'em all! Start over! The experiment didn't work! Rain forty days, please fucking rain to wash these turds off my fucking life! Wash these wastes of human flesh and bone off this planet! I pray to you, God, to kill these fucking people! [Someone yells out "Freebird" once more.] Freebird. [falls back] And in the beginning there was the word, Freebird. And Freebird would be yelled throughout the centuries. Freebird, the mantra of the moron.
    • I'm Sorry Folks (1989)
  • I loved when Bush came out and said, "We are losing the war against drugs." You know what that implies? There's a war being fought, and the people on drugs are winning it.
    • Queens Theatre Late Show (1993)
  • All governments are lying cocksuckers.
    • The Best of Bill Hicks: "Philosophy" (2001)

Sane Man (1989)

  • You never see a positive drug story on the news. They always have the same LSD story. You've all seen it: "Today a young man on acid...thought he could fly...jumped out of a building...what a tragedy!" What a dick. He's an idiot. If he thought he could fly why didn't he take off from the ground first? Check it out? You don't see geese lined up to catch elevators to fly south; they fly from the fucking ground. He's an idiot. He's dead. Good! We lost a moron. Fucking celebrate. There's one less moron in the world.
  • Wouldn't you like to see a positive LSD story on the news? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition?, perhaps? Wouldn't that be interesting? Just for once?

    "Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration – that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There's no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather."

  • Then comes the kicker: Say the alphabet – backwards. "Well, shoot, you got me. I'm not drunk, but I'm obviously too stupid to be driving, God damn it."
    • Regarding field sobriety tests to catch drunk drivers
  • Keith Richards outlived Jim Fixx, the runner and health nut. The plot thickens. You remember Jim Fixx? This human cipher used to write books on jogging. Now, what do you fucking write about jogging? "Right foot, left foot, faster, faster, oh hell, I dunno, go home, shower." Pretty much covers the jogging experience, I do believe. Then this doofus goes out and has a heart attack and dies … while jogging. There is a God. "Right foot, left foot, hemorrhage."
  • Rick Astley? Have you seen this banal incubus at work? Boy, if this guy isn't heralding Satan's imminent approach to Earth, huh. "Don't ever wanna make you cry, never wanna make you sigh … never gonna break your heart" … oh, I wouldn't worry about that without a dick, buddy. You got a corn nut! You got a clit! You're not even a guy! You're an AIDS germ that got off a slide! They're puttin' music to AIDS germs, they're puttin' a drum machine behind them in a metronome beat and Ted Turner's colorizing 'em, God damn it!

Dangerous (1990)

  • Anybody can be a bum; all it takes is the right girl, the right bar and the right friends, and you are well … your buddies will see you off. They'll christen your dumpster for you.
  • … We live in a world where John Lennon was murdered, yet Barry Manilow continues to put out fucking albums. God-dammit! If you're gonna kill somebody, have some fucking taste, I'll drive you to Kenny Rogers' house.
  • One time me and three friends dropped acid and drove around in my dad's car. He has one of those talking cars, we're tripping, and the car goes, "The door is ajar." We pulled over and thought about that for 12 hours. "How can a door be a jar?" … "Why would they put a jar on a car?" … "Oh man, the freeway's melting" … "Put it in the jar."
  • I've noticed a certain anti-intellectualism going around this country; since about 1980, oddly enough. … I was in Nashville, Tennessee, and after the show I went to a Waffle House. I'm not proud of it, but I was hungry. And I'm sitting there eating and reading a book. I don't know anybody, I'm alone, so I'm reading a book. The waitress comes over to me like, [gum smacking] "What'chu readin' for?" I had never been asked that. Not "What am I reading?", but "What am I reading for?" Goddangit, you stumped me. Hmm, why do I read? I suppose I read for a lot of reasons, one of the main ones being so I don't end up being a fucking waffle waitress.
  • There's some serious pockets of humanity in this country. Go to any of these truck stops in the middle of nowhere, you meet some serious folk, man. Order coffee, the guy behind the counter goes, "You want the 32-ounce or the large?" Geez, how big is that large? "You'll wanna pull your car around back. I'll start the pump."

Dark Poet (1991)

  • Good evening, my name is Bill Hicks. I've been on the road now doing comedy twelve years, so, uh, bear with me while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit one more time. … I'm kinda tired of traveling, kinda tired of doing comedy, kinda tired of staring out at your blank faces looking back at me, wanting me to fill your empty lives with humor you couldn't possibly think of yourselves.
  • They proved that if you quit smoking, it will prolong your life. What they haven't proved is that a prolonged life is a good thing. I haven't seen the stats on that yet.
  • I was in a cab in New York. The cab had a sign, "Please do not smoke, Christ is our unseen guest." This guy was reaching. I figure, if He could overcome being nailed to a cross, I don't think a Marlboro Light's gonna faze Him that much.
  • People pay lip service to saving the planet, but they don't – they fail to make the big leap that if you want to save the planet, kill your fucking self. The planet will be saved without you. And what a delightful place it'll be. Welcome. It's a new thing I'm working on, called "The Comedy of Hate". Join in.
  • I am available for children's parties, by the way.

Chicago '91 (1991)

  • Not all drugs are good, alright? Some of them...are great.
  • Why is pot against the law? It wouldn't be because anyone can grow it, and therefore you can't make a profit off it, would it?
  • Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally on our planet, serves a thousand different functions, all of them positive. To make marijuana against the law is like saying that God made a mistake. Like on the seventh day God looked down, "There it is. My Creation; perfect and holy in all ways. Now I can rest. [Gives shocked expression] Oh, my, Me! I left fuckin' pot everywhere. I should never have smoked that joint on the third day. Hehe, that was the day I created opossums. If I leave pot everywhere that's gonna give people the impression they're supposed to...use it. Now I have to create Republicans." "...And God wept", I believe is the next part of that story.
  • They tell us "Rock'n'roll is the devil's music." Well, let's say we know that rock is the the devil's music, and we know that it is, for sure... At least he fuckin' jams! If it's a choice between eternal Hell and good tunes, and eternal Heaven and New Kids on the fuckin' Block...I'm gonna be surfin' on the lake of fire, rockin' out.
  • This needs to be said: there never was a war. "How can you say that, Bill?" Well, a war is when two armies are fighting. So you can see, right there, there never was a war.... People say to me, "Hey, Bill, the war made us feel better about ourselves." Really? What kind of people are these with such low self-esteem that they need a war to feel better about themselves? May I suggest, instead of a war to feel better about yourself, perhaps...sit-ups? Maybe a fruit cup? Eight glasses of water a day?

Relentless (1992)

  • I just have one of those faces. People come up to me and say, "What's wrong?" "Nothing." "Well, it takes more energy to frown than it does to smile." "Yeah, you know it takes more energy to point that out than it does to leave me alone?"
  • See, I know you entertain some kind of eternal life fantasy because you've chosen not to smoke; let me be the first to pop that fucking bubble and send you hurtling back to reality – because you're dead too. And you know what doctors say: "Shit, if only you'd smoked, we'd have the technology to help you. It's you people dying from nothing who are screwed."
  • And I'll tell you something too. That's starting to annoy me about UFOs, the fact that they cross galaxies or universes to visit us, and always end up in places like … Fyffe fucking Alabama. Maybe these aren't super-intelligent beings, you know what I mean?
  • You see, I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don't believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. 'Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that's enhanced your lives throughout the years were rrreal fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.
  • They're putting the cart before the horse on this pornography issue. Playboy doesn't cause sexual thoughts. Sexual thoughts exist and, therefore, there is Playboy. Do you see? … You know what causes sexual thoughts? I'm gonna clear the air for you tonight. I'm gonna end this debate, hopefully once and for all while on this planet, 'cause outer space awaits our presence, we are better and more unique creatures than this and all eternity is our playground, so let me go ahead and clear this one issue up once and for all and let's move on to real issues. Can we? Great.

    Here's what causes sexual thoughts: having a dick.

Shock and Awe (November 11, 1992 – Oxford Playhouse)

  • People often ask me where I stand politically. It's not that I disagree with Bush's economic policy or his foreign policy, it's that I believe he was a child of Satan sent here to destroy the planet Earth. Little to the left.
  • I was walking through Central Park, and I saw an old man smoking. Nothing makes a smoker happier than to see an old person smoking. This guy was ancient, bent over a walker, puffing away. I'm like, "Duuude, you're my hero! Guy your age smoking, man, it's great." He goes, "What? I'm 28."
  • I wish I could meet a Christian who would proselytize to me, but they keep running away from me. I wanna talk to you all.
  • I think it's interesting the two drugs that are legal, alcohol and cigarettes, two drugs that do absolutely nothing for you at all; and the drugs that might open your mind up to realize how badly you're being fucked every day of your life? … Those drugs are against the law. He-heh, coincidence?
  • I'm glad mushrooms are against the law, because I took them one time, and you know what happened to me? I laid in a field of green grass for four hours going, "My God! I love everything." Yeah, now if that isn't a hazard to our country … how are we gonna keep building nuclear weapons, you know what I mean? What's gonna happen to the arms industry when we realize that we're all one?!

Revelations (1993)

  • You know we armed Iraq. I wondered about that too, you know. During the Persian Gulf war, those intelligence reports would come out: "Iraq: incredible weapons – incredible weapons." "How do you know that?" "Uh, well … we looked at the receipts. But as soon as that check clears, we're goin' in. What time's the bank open? Eight? We're going in at nine. We're going in for God and country and democracy and here's a fetus and he's a Hitler. Whatever you fucking need, let's go. Get motivated behind this, let's go!"
  • "God put [dinosaur fossils] here to test our faith!" … I think God put you here to test my faith, dude. Does that bother anybody else, the idea that God might be fucking with our heads? I have trouble sleeping with that knowledge, some prankster god runnin' around, [pantomimes digging] "We'll see who believes in me now."
  • They lie about marijuana. Tell you pot-smoking makes you unmotivated. Lie! When you're high, you can do everything you normally do just as well – you just realize that it's not worth the fucking effort. There is a difference.
  • Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here. Here's American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up. Go back to bed, America. Here is American Gladiators. Here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go, America! You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!
  • The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud, and it's fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, "Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, "Hey, don't worry; don't be afraid, ever. Because this is just a ride." And we...kill those people. "Shut him up! I've got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real." It's just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok? But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, not work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.

Filling Up the Hump (1993)

  • You ever look at their faces? "We're pro-life." Don't they look it? Don't they just exude joie de vivre?
  • "I believe that the Bible is the literal word of God." And I say no, it's not, Dad. "Well, I believe that it is." Well, you know, some people believe they're Napoleon. That's fine. Beliefs are neat. Cherish them, but don't share them like they're the truth.
  • I was over in Australia during Easter, which was really interesting. You know, they celebrate Easter the exact same way we do, commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus by telling our children that a giant bunny rabbit … left chocolate eggs in the night. Now … I wonder why we're fucked up as a race. I've read the Bible. I can't find the word "bunny" or "chocolate" anywhere in the fucking book.
  • Speaking of Satan, I was watching Rush Limbaugh the other day. Doesn't Rush Limbaugh remind you of one of those gay guys that like to lie in a tub while other guys pee on him?
  • Folks, it's time to evolve. That's why we're troubled. You know why our institutions are failing us, the church, the state, everything's failing? It's because, um – they're no longer relevant. We're supposed to keep evolving. Evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs. You do know that, right? There's another 90 percent of our brains that we have to illuminate.

Arizona Bay (1997)

  • L.A. is a nightmare place, man. You'll always meet this one guy out in L.A, you always — this real smarmy guy. He always says this: "Yeah, I love calling back east January 1. 'What are all you doin'? Snowed in, huh? Bummer. Me? I'm out by the pool! Ha ha ha haaa!'" What a dick this guy is. It's why I used to love to call L.A. when I lived in New York: "What are y'all doin'? Talking to TV producers, huh? Bummer. Me? I'm reading a book! Yeah, we're thinkin' back East. Yeah, we're evolving. Is that the Big One I hear in the background? Bye, you lizard scum! Bye!" [whoosh] Ha ha ha ha! It's gone, it's gone, it's gone. It's gone. All the shitty shows are gone, all the idiots screamin' in the fuckin' wind are dead, I love it. Leaving nothing but a cool, beautiful serenity called... Arizona Bay. Ha ha ha! That's right. When L.A. falls in the fuckin' ocean and is flushed away, all it will leave is Arizona Bay.
  • During the LA riots English people were trying to sympathize with me, "Oh Bill, crime is horrible. If it's any consolation, crime is awful here, too." Shut up. This is Hobbiton and I'm Bill-bo Hicks... You gotta see English crime. It's hilarious. You don't know if you're reading the front page or the comic section over there. I swear to God. I read an article front page of the paper one day, in England: "Yesterday, some hooligans knocked over a dustbin in Shaftesbury." … Wooooo. The hooligans are loose! The hooligans are loose! … What if they become ruffians? I would hate to be a dustbin in Shaftesbury tonight. [to the tune of "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who] "No one knows what it's like … to be a dustbin … in Shaftesbury … with hooligans …"
  • You ever notice that everyone who believes in creationism looks really unevolved? Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet. "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, looks like He rushed it.
  • People say to me, "Bill, quit bringing up Kennedy, man. Let it go. It was a long time ago. Just forget about it." All right, then don't bring up Jesus to me. I mean, as long as we're talking shelf-life here. "You know, Bill, Jesus died for you …" Yeah, it was a long time ago. Forget about it. How about this: get Pilate to release the fuckin' files. Quit washing your hands, Pilate, and release the files. Who else was on that grassy Golgotha that day?
  • How many people, when you watched the LA riots on the news, were like me, watching the people getting hauled out of their cars and beaten half to death? How many people were like me seeing this and thinking "Step on the fucking gas, man. They're on foot, you're in a truck … I think I see a way outta this."

Rant in E-Minor (1997)

  • People suck, and that's my contention. I can prove it on a scratch of paper with a pen. Give me a fucking Etch-a-sketch, I'll do it in three minutes. The proof, the fact, the factorum. I'll show my work, case closed. I'm tired of this back-slapping "Aren't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are.
  • I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking." "Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!" "Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control. Here's Love Connection. Watch this and get fat and stupid. By the way, keep drinking beer, you fucking morons."
  • There's a new party being born: The People Who Hate People Party. People who hate people, come together! "No!" We're kind of having trouble getting off the boards, you know. Come to our meeting! "Are you gonna be there?" Yeah. "Then I ain't fucking coming." But you're our strongest member! "Fuck you!" That's what I'm talking about, you asshole! Fuck off! Damn, we almost had a meeting going. It's so hard to get my people together.
  • The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love. That's the message we're brought up with, isn't it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options.
  • Oh, there's a threat to America! Yeah, yeah, yeah … back to that fucking COPS show. 'Cause I'll tell you who the threat to freedom … no, no, not to freedom. I'll tell you who the threat to the status quo is in this country: it's us. That's why they show you shows like fucking COPS. So you know that state power will win and we'll bust your house down and we'll fuckin' bust you anytime we want. That's the message.

Flying Saucer Tour, vol. I (2002)

  • I've been on what I call my UFO Tour, which means, like UFOs, I too have been appearing in small southern towns in front of a handful of hillbillies lately. I've been doubting my own existence.
  • How much do you smoke, sir? Two packs a day, is that right? Pussy. I go through two lighters a day. That's right, two lighters! You're a health nut compared to me. You're like the Jack LaLanne of smokers compared to me.
    • "Smoking"
  • I know this is not a very popular idea. You don't hear it too often any more … but it's the truth. I have taken drugs before and … I had a real good time. Sorry. Didn't murder anybody, didn't rape anybody, didn't rob anybody, didn't beat anybody, didn't lose – hm – one fucking job, laughed my ass off, and went about my day. Sorry. Now, where's my commercial?
    • "Great Times on Drugs"
  • That's what I hate about the war on drugs. All day long we see those commercials: "Here's your brain, here's your brain on drugs", "Just Say No", "Why do you think they call it dope?" … And then the next commercial is [singing] "This Bud's for yooouuuu." C'mon, everybody, let's be hypocritical bastards. It's okay to drink your drug. We meant those other drugs. Those untaxed drugs. Those are the ones that are bad for you.
  • Pot is a better drug than alcohol. Fact! … I'll prove it to you. If you're at a ball game or a concert and someone's really violent and aggressive and obnoxious, are they drunk or are they smoking pot? [The crowd answers "Drunk."] Wow! We all know the truth.

Salvation (2005)

  • That's why my girlfriend and I broke up: she wanted kids, and I … well, she wanted kids. [laughs] I had no idea her philosophy was that flawed. She goes, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a kid? To have this fresh, clean slate which we could fill. A little clean spirit, innocent, and to fill it with good ideas." Yeah, yeah, how about this? If you're so fucking altruistic, why don't you leave the little clean spirit wherever it is right now? Okay? Horrible act, childbirth. Nightmare. Bringing … I would never bring a kid to this fucking planet.
  • [on New Kids on the Block, Rick Astley, George Michaels, et al] People say to me, "Oh, Bill, leave them alone. They're so good, and so clean-cut, and they're such a good image for the children." Fuck that! When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children listening to people who fucking rocked! I don't care if they died in pools of their own vomit! I want someone who plays from his fucking heart! "Mommy, the man Bill told me to listen to has a blood bubble on his nose." SHUT UP AND LISTEN TO HIM PLAY!

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

William 'Bill' Hicks (born 1961, died 1994) was an American stand up comedian famous for his controversial act which made fun of religion and politics amongst other areas. He died of Pancreatic cancer in 1994 and since he died many other stand up comedians in the USA and UK have said they have been very influenced by his work, which is still very popular today.

References

True, Cynthia (2002). American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story. New York, NY: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-380-80377-1.








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