Friday, 18 August 2006

What Would Bill Hicks Do?

The Guardian takes a look at why Bill Hicks is still as popular today, perhaps moreso, as when he died.

Apparently there's a Edinburgh Fringe show, Bill Hicks: Slight Return, in which Hicks is brought back to life in 2006 by writer and actor Chas Early. The main question here being why don't they just hire Denis Leary and be done with it.

As someone who has probably started too many sentences with "It's just like that Bill Hicks bit..." this looks all good to me. Though they do bring up whether Bill would like all the dead Bill worship:
Given this provocateur persona, wouldn't Hicks have been dismayed by the cult that now surrounds him? Early's play asks that very question. "And I think he'd say, 'What is it with dead comedians? Haven't you got enough live ones to go around? Why isn't anyone moving the story on?' I think he would be annoyed."

Early also points out that Hicks could be prickly:
"It's become easy to turn him into a saint," says Early, despite there being "elements of his comedy that were difficult and in many cases unappealing". Some audiences inevitably felt hectored by Hicks's vehemence, and the fainthearted struggled with the more lurid sexual content.

Though, for me, that is part of the appeal. There's a video of Bill losing it with a heckler or two at a show in Chicago that's difficult and almost scary to watch. It's also very funny, rude and possibly the most visceral stand-up you'll ever see. You do get a sense that there's something like that in him in the available CDs and DVDs, too. That some nights he'll just push an audience to see how far they'll let him go and also to see how far he could go and still keep most of them with him.

One problem I do have with Hicks is not really a problem with him as such. The superficial message of his comedy is "do drugs and watch for UFOs and the world will be a better place", which is, no doubt, a large part of his appeal to a certain section of his audience. I don't think he believed anything so simple and would probably be derisive of those who looked for answers in his comedy. He seriously believed we should all just get along, but I doubt he had any concrete ideas on how to make that happen.

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