30 for 30 – as I reach my fourth decade of being, I’m writing about some of the things that made the three that came before what they were. 30 – mostly trivial – things that have been a part of 30 – mostly trivial – years.
18. BILL HICKS
I love the comedy of the late Bill Hicks, the politics he stood for, the way he tried to live his life, and his awesome array of dick jokes.
Good evening, my name is Bill Hicks. I’ve been on the road now doing comedy for 12 years, so, uh, bear with me while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit one more time.
I discovered Bill Hicks the same way all my friends discovered Bill Hicks – the Tool album Aenima. Everyone had that record and in the booklet was this guy – Bill Hicks.
There was no other way he would have come into my life if not for that album. I never spent any time in the ‘comedy’ section of the record shop. There was no YouTube, and there was no way to see him on Australian TV. So thank you Tool for scaring the shit out of me with your film clips and introducing me to Bill Hicks.
My relationship with Hicks, made up of many nights with my discman on in my teenage bed, was with his 5 Rykodisc albums. One best of – ‘Philosophy’, and 4 albums. They cover his career arc; bratty, shocking upstart to confident preacher to fiery nihilist.
I listened to those albums a lot, and so did many of my friends. I learnt all the lines. My interest, as usual, spiraled into obsession – bootleg DVDs, website downloads, several biographies, more albums, anything and everything.
The nice thing about this obsession was the world grew with me. Hick’s humour seemed more relevant in the GWB years. He is more famous now than when he was alive, or when I discovered him. There was always new stuff coming out. That legendary Letterman footage would emerge. Someone would find a tape of a new show in Oxford. A new box set and theatrically released doco came out ths year. His stature is still growing.
I want to see a well-laid Ted Turner newscast: “Hey, it’s all going to work out. Here’s sports.”
His best of on Ryko is called ‘Philosophy’. It’s a word that has lost it’s meaning in popular culture, but Hicks definitely has a philosophy. He has a strong world view, and would scream about it.
Poor Bill. I wonder what he would think of the world today. If anything, that celebrity culture he hated so much has covered the world. Fashion beat art. War has never stopped. Censorship and the right wing continues to grow. Pot is still illegal. Handguns are still legal. People are still stupid. I am sort of glad he’s not here to see it. And this was 20 years ago.
20 years ago!! I look at the world and see all the shit I hate, and I think Hicks would hate it too. And it’s the culmination of 20 years of bullshit. And no one’s doing anything about it now.
I can imagine what Hicks would say about Glee and crap like that. IT IS SHIT. Why be nice about it? Why be forgiving about it? The people behind that show should be killed for lowering our standards.
Did Hicks fail? Or did his audience just do what Richard Linklater call “withdrawal in digust”? Because there is a lot of us. And we’re growing. One day we will rise up and rip Lady Gaga’s arms off and beat her to death with them.
For me, I see it as my civic duty to play Bill Hicks to anyone under 20 that I meet. If not earlier. I hope kids are trading his mp3s all around the net. You gotta hear this stuff.
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.
Bill Hick’s influence is everywhere. Frankie Boyle calls him his favourite comedian. Dennis Leary pretty much stole his act. There’d be no South Park or Family Guy without him. Every comedian, really, loves him.
And he was a true comedian. He wasn’t in it for a TV pilot or a slot on a game show. His hated Jay Leno and the like, who sold themselves out.
It might seem odd now, in an era where nothing is taboo. But it was Hicks that knocked that wall down. Heck, people steal his jokes wholesale.
I don’t listen to him too much these days. He only really had variations of 4 or 5 shows – and I really do know the jokes too well. It is exciting to see others discover him, but I think at my age, I’m worried about repeating myself, and trying to find new things. I put Hicks solidly in a box called Early 20s.
If you have not heard Bill Hicks, then just start with ‘Philosophy’. Or look him up on youtube. So much to fall in love with.
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 agree with most of Hick’s philosophy. His view on politics (don’t vote with your wallets) etc. Some of my views have softened – especially when it comes to children.
I went through a pretty intense period of listening and worshipping Bill Hicks when I was around 23. I would smoke too much and get angry at things. But there was this beautiful postivity to what he was trying to say.
He wasn’t an atheist – he went on about Jesus and Satan in every show. But he believed in a world bigger than our own, a universe that is able to humble us, if we care to notice it. It is an idea that is at the core of how I feel about life, the universe and everything.
For a man so cynical, when I hear him spouting his gospel, I feel like we are going to be ok. It’s the power (and dangers) or preachers. But if I have to have one, I choose Bill Hicks.
I wrote a song for Hicks. It’s called “Carlights, Like Fireflies”, and I lifted a couple of his lines – especially the idea that life is just a ride.
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.