Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BILL HICKS (plus a bionic panda)

William Melvin (Bill) Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994)

If you’ve never heard or seen Bill Hicks your life is not complete (at least not comedywise) He has been the inspiration for hundreds, maybe thousands of comedians, his unfettered caustic honesty and anti-establishment attitude was unique and as far as I can see unreplicated, OK, OK, I know there are many great comedians out there that are anti-establishment but correct me if I’m wrong (I often am) they all seem just angry and fail to quite hit the mark in the way that Hicks did.

He was controversial and thought-provoking in his performances, and came across to me like he was trying desperately to open peoples minds,
make them think beyond the boundaries placed by our cultures. I believe he achieved this with ease, his angsty delivery made you listen like a naive child being told that what your parents said to you about playing with fire was just propaganda and then being handed a box of matches and given the task to burn an effigy of Bush.

Bill Hicks with cynicism angst, quick-fire retorts that made hecklers cower like small rodents cowering from a rather large and fierce predator, combined with a somewhat contradictory charm and devishly good looks reminds me all too vividly of a soft toy I had as a child, a once cute panda, mutilated by my brothers (inspired by the six million dollar man) one eye removed and replaced with wires and a rusty washer, a square of fur on his chest removed and a broken circuit board inserted, he was never quite the same again. On a quick peripheral glance a cute fluffly black and white reproductively challenged mammal, on closer inspection a bionic bear with attitude that could have your eye out in seconds.

Hicks was undoubtedly renowned for his drug & alcohol abuse (in his case he never exhaled) and sadly it was his undoing in the end when he died from cancer at the untimely age of 32. You rarely saw Hicks without a cigarette in his hand and it became part of his rogue image and even part of his material. You write about what you know, you reflect on the life you lead, almost it seems comedians are on a journey of self-help therapy, exercising demons, making sense of the world in the only way they know how to.

There is most definitely a little Bill Hicks in me screaming to get out, would I choose the road of political satire I’m sure my currently subdued angst would reveal itself, though I never consider myself to be politically savvy enough to venture down that road.

One of my biggest regrets is that I never got to see this man perform live, alas I never shall, at least not without the assistance of a very good medium and an Ouija board with added expletives. My desire to see him live is not for the thrill of being in the same room, you understand, but akin to seeing a band perform live, you experience an essence of them lost in recordings, stage charisma and presence count for an awful lot, not to mention the humanness of adlibbing and heckler retorts that often (all too often in my book) get scrapped before it goes to DVD.

The question is if I had conclusive proof that a spirit world existed and Bill Hicks was gigging on the other side, would I consider topping myself?....nah mate.

That all said and done, Channel 4 ran a poll for the Top 100 Comedians of All Time. Hicks was voted 6th.

I’ll swing with that.

Official Website: http://www.billhicks.com/

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