Friday, June 4, 2010

Take the Edge Off with Bill Hicks

Although this was only a four day week, I have to say it pretty much sucked. I spent the whole time coming down from my move over Memorial Day Weekend, which wasn't helped by the fact that it takes me a while to get used to sleeping in a new place. Plus, my douche bag of a cat, Floyd, has decided that a closed bedroom door is no match for his power to meow and headbutt the fucking thing until I completely snap. So I've spent the last few days pissed at the world, and I've found that there are few better cures for being pissed off than watching someone else who is even more pissed off. Enter Mr. Bill Hicks.

I'm actually surprised at how few people of my generation are familiar with Bill Hicks, but I guess it's understandable considering he died of cancer when people my age were only 10 years old. I hadn't ever even heard of him until I was in college and I stumbled on to a clip of his act online. I consider myself lucky to have found him, though, because he presents a very rare combination of liberal, humanist ideology and Southern style. Usually, when you see a guy come out on stage wearing a cowboy hat and boots, you can probably look forward to a night of fag jokes and observations about how Barack Hussein Obama and Saddam Hussein are related. Not to say that everyone in real life who dresses like a cowboy is a homophobic racist, but I think we can all agree that the folks in the entertainment community like to stick with conventional wisdom (aka cliche stereotypes) when creating a persona. So when Bill Hicks comes on stage, with his Georgian twang and "fuck you" swagger, it's fascinating to see that attitude pointed at fundamentalist Christians.

Part of what makes Hicks so interesting to watch is the sincerity of his anger with the world. He actually used to be friends with another ranting comic, Denis Leary, until Hicks got pissed at Leary for stealing his material. Now I'm a fan of Denis Leary, but you do get a sense that his ranting and raving is amped up to promote his "angry guy" image. Most of the time it works, but you can tell he's doing it deliberately for effect. When Hicks get rolling, however, it seems to be coming from place that's much more genuine.

Hicks actually gets to a place where he doesn't even seem to know the audience is there. He's not trying to impress people by crafting a witty rant. Hell, eventually he just starts screaming. In my opinion he even starts to risk losing the audience, getting to that point where, if he was just your friend or someone you were listening to at a party, you'd tell him to calm the fuck down and go take a time out for a few minutes. But at the same time, you have to admire that kind of earnest feeling from an entertainer.

That earnest sense of righteousness and his mission to cut through the world's bullshit is what makes Bill Hicks' legacy. It's even the topic of a new documentary coming out on him, which judging by the trailer is pushing a little heavy on the angle of Hicks as the revolutionary voice of his generation. That may be, but first and foremost Hicks was a comedian. He was there to make people laugh, and when he wasn't working himself into a frothing lunatic he was just a goofy, funny dude.

So, if you find yourself in a funk where you've just had enough of dealing with the stupidity life throws your way, remember that there was a guy who had to deal with it on a whole different level. Just do what I do. Hop on to YouTube, type Bill Hicks into the search box, and just pick a video at random and let Bill get pissed off so that you don't have to anymore. I leave you with Bill Hicks' bit from the Late Show, the only bit that David Letterman ever chose to completely cut from the on-air broadcast due to content.


  1. whatever. i meant to post the below comment here!

  2. Well, J_Fellenbaum's inability to comment on the right post aside, I've fixed the last YouTube clip so that you can actually watch it. My mistake.