Today would have been the 50th birthday of Bill Hicks. Some of you have never heard the name so let me tell you who Bill Hicks is for me.
I first happened upon his stand-up some time in high school. I’ve always loved stand-up comedy and used to watch various specials. Something about Bill stuck out though. He wasn’t just trying to make me laugh or entertain me; he was also trying to make me think.
Throughout college, I caught more of his stuff, some on TV and some on CD. I hadn’t been hip to him for very long before his untimely passing in 1994. Bill died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. He was stolen from us. That’s what it felt like.
I continued to find any new recordings of Bill’s I could and would just listen to them over and over. My favorite CD is still Rant in E Minor (which can be found on YouTube in its entirety). What became apparent as the years wore on is how relevant Bill continued to be. He talked of the first Gulf War of 1991 and the politics of his time but just swap out the names of the players and it’s still the Truth. Bill was a lightning rod of Truth.
Throughout Bill’s career, his scathing wit and unwillingness to cater to the masses kept him from becoming a household name. His last performance on David Letterman was not even aired until 2009 (you can find it at this link — http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/02/03/david-letterman/ ). Bill just didn’t understand the need to alter his message. He trusted his audience was smart enough to get it even if the rest of mainstream media did not. And if they didn’t get it… whatever. He was just here doing his thing and nothing more.
He did find success across the pond to some degree and he paved the way for other comedians to talk about more than relationships and other mundane topics. He took his role as court jester very seriously and he was not shy about pointing out over and over again the emperor has no clothes.
Bill was truly a one of a kind and the world is better because he was in it. Bill took a squeegee to my third eye, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Thank you, Bill.
Bill’s off on his Flying Saucer Tour of the Universe now.
P.S. On February 7th, 1994, Bill wrote his last words to the world:
I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always “awake,” I guess you’d say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place.
All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who’ve helped me. I’d read these words and off I went – dreaming my own imaginative dreams. Exercising them at will, eventually to form bands, comedy, more bands, movies, anything creative. This is the coin of the realm I use in my words – Vision.
On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having “liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas.” One of life’s weirdest and worst jokes imaginable. I’d been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realizing my dreams that it just stood me on my head for a while. “Why me!?” I would cry out, and “Why now!?”
Well, I know now there may never be any answers to those particular questions, but maybe in telling a little about myself, we can find some other answers to other questions. That might help our way down our own particular paths, towards realizing my dream of New Hope and New Happiness. Amen.
I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.