Whilst having a gander in the direction of Michael Moore’s New Film about The America, I got to thinking about the late, great Mr Bill Hicks, and how he tore The Gulf War apart in 10 minutes of stand-up comedy, and did it much more effectively than Moore’s admittedly excellent film achieves in two hours.
I got to thinking about how heart-breakingly sad it is, that so many folks never heard of Bill Hicks, and yet own No Cure For Cancer by Dennis Leary, a man who built his career on Bill Hicks routines.
“Bunch a whining fucking maggots.”
That was Bill talking about non-smokers. You may have heard the Leary cover-version.
In fact, once Leary ran out of Hicks routines, he just gave up. You may have heard the show he did where he was reduced to talking about Hanson. Shit, man, the motherfucking controversy.
So anyway, what The Duke would suggest is that you buck up your ideas, man, and go about getting hold of these here items what will illustrate just how amazing this Hicks fella was. This is for the novice, is what, kind of Outlaw Comics For Dummies or whatever, with emphasis on Bill Hicks, the Goatboy.
Bill Hicks – The Essential Motherfucking Audio
Truth be told, there ain’t a damn reason in the world why you shouldn’t be buying all four of Bill’s “lifetime” releases, the albums he actively worked on, even though the last two were released posthumously. I’m going to assume that perhaps you might be the kinda person what doesn’t own any of the damn things, so I’ll recommend these here recordings, two of which are, I guess, “official” albums, and the other one is a live recording released last year.
This is Bill’s second album, and the damn thing is devastatingly funny. Not only does this have the aforementioned War routine, but also Bill’s brilliant yacking with regards the “drugs”, and the fact that if you don’t think drugs ever did anyone any good, then you need to go and chuck out 60% of your record collection.
“Shit, man, the Beatles were so stoned they even let Ringo sing a couple tunes.”
It’s a more political album than the debut, Dangerous, and yet it hasn’t dated a jot, even though it was recorded way back in 1992, when George Bush was president, bombing the fuck out of Iraq for no apparent reason. Seems like a motherfucking lifetime past, is what.
Rant In E-Minor
On his third album, Arizona Bay, Bill decided the thing to do would be to throw in a bunch of his guitar noodlings and so on, courtesy of his band Marble Head Johnson, in-between the stand-up stuff, and that approach is repeated here.
Bill does his entire set from his cancelled Letterman appearance, when the studio heads got all worried about his pontificating with regards the pope, abortion, other stuff.
It also has his rant about The Gideon’s, wondering who the hell these people are, where they come from, how no ones ever laid eyes on one and yet they’re all over the fucking world, leaving bibles in hotel rooms.
The religious stuff generally gets the bulk of the running-time this time around, even though the famous Dinosaurs In The Bible malarkey was on the previous record. Fundamentalist Christians are goaded, well, relentlessly, and listening to this stuff now, it’s amazing those assassinations he mocked up for the end of his performances never actually crossed the line and became actual bloody executions. One can imagine some hardcore cracker pointing a rifle at Bill’s skull as he yacks about the Pope-Mobile and its state-of-the-art bullet-proof protection. “That’s faith in action, right there.”
Shock And Awe – Live At The Oxford Playhouse
This recording, made in Britain in 1992, was released in 2003 to cash in on the anti-war movement, with the cover boasting such warnings as “Contains Anti-War Material” and “Coalition Advisory – Anti-War Content”. Fuck all that opportunistic marketing, though, one gets the feeling Bill would have hated shit like that. You’d be a demented psychopath of some sort, though, to ignore the content. This is easily one of the best Hicks’ shows available, even including the wealth of bootleg material.
It also includes stuff he didn’t do very often, including his musings on snooker, how it takes so long cause every now and again this little guy keeps taking the balls out of the pockets. He gives us his views on Madonna’s Sex book, and also Basic Instinct, whilst finding time to address congress’ definition of Pornography. “No artistic merit, causes sexual thoughts… hmm… sounds like every advert on TV to me.”
Bill Hicks – The Essential Motherfucking Video
Totally Bill Hicks
This here isn’t available on Region 1, but you can get it on PAL Region 2. You American folks never did get Bill anyroad, man.
We British loved the hell out of him though, which is why he’s filmed here playing in the Dominion Theater in London to one of the biggest crowds of his career.
It’s a brilliant performance, but a uniquely uncomfortable one. In the midst of an attempt to give up smoking, Bill is visibly disgruntled, and as the audience are filled with folks who love the hell out of him, he sees fit to rile them up a bit. What the hell fun is there in preaching to the converted?
So, on comes Goatboy, Bill’s demented alter-ego, for twenty minutes of supremely disturbing sex-talk. “Goatboy likes little girls”, he growls. “It’s like a wisp of cotton candy surrounding a paper cut.”
You can hear thousands of seats being nervously adjusted, man.
But there’s also other, more conventional carry-ons, like the brilliant stuff about JFK, and how you can go and see the book emporium, and how it’s really authentic, “cause Oswald’s not there.”
Also on the video is a rather disappointing channel 4 documentary entitled It’s Just A Ride, where Bill’s parents, siblings and friends are invited to share their thoughts on the fella. There’s also some archive footage thrown in, mostly from TV appearances and also from the Sane Man video, which is only available through the Sacred Cow website.
There’s a half-hour HBO special also available on region 2, but this here is the one to go for, man, is what The Duke would suggest.
Bill Hicks – The Essential Motherfucking Literature
At the time of writing, there are only two books devoted to Bill on the market, which is damn well criminal considering there’s a dozen published about Justin Timberlake every motherfucking afternoon. It’s quality, not quantity, though, and these here two volumes should have you wetting your garments in orgasmic delight.
American Scream – The Bill Hicks Story by Cynthia True
This is the official biography, and it’s as comprehensive as anyone could hope for. The tales of a young 13-year-old Bill sneaking out of his bedroom to perform at comedy clubs in the city are filled with pubescent mischief, and the sad fate of “America’s greatest unknown comic” makes for heartbreaking reading.
It’s also kinda freaky, too. Bill was a fond advocate of hallucinogens, and True relates how he noticed a “strange sensation” in his left hand side after his first mushroom trip, how “it felt not right, like something was wrong”. Bill ended up dying of pancreatic cancer. On the left hand side of his torso, man. Freaky shit, is what.
It’s also quite melodramatic at the end, but doesn’t overdo things. True doesn’t need to up the saccharine or anything like that. The image of Bill lying in his parent’s home, too sick to speak to them, as Christmas festivities go on in the surrounding suburb, is painfully poignant enough on its own, thank you very much.
Love All The People
This is a collection of interviews, letters, magazine articles and routines penned by the great man himself. It’s a bit like reading those Kurt Cobain Diaries or whatever, except that most of this was published in his lifetime, so it’s not like we’re stealing the fellas skull-gunk unawares.
It’s a fascinating history of The Duke’s Favourite Comedian Of All Ever, and illustrates amply why he was a master of his craft, and ultimately, why he was so rejected.
As one interviewee states in the aforementioned It’s Just A Ride, Bill didn’t offer any sugar with the medicine. Which is fine by me, man. That medicine was sweet enough on its own, is what.
Bill Hicks – The Essential Motherfucking Bootleg
Bill didn’t live long enough to aquire a gargantuan body of work, and what recordings of his performances exist are basically taken from the same few tours, which means if you own the official stuff, there’s pretty much no real reason to dig much deeper.
Except, of course, for the infamous Loses It show of 1989.
Before an audience of fairly disinterested Chicago punters, Bill appears despondent, jaded. There are numerous hecklers in the audience, and one woman makes the mistake of hollering “You Suck” at our hero.
Bill giggles to himself for a second, takes a breath, and then lets out a devastating holler about “Fuck you, you cunt! Oh, I can shout at the performer cause I’m drunk and I got a cunt! I want you to get a fucking soul!”
Shit, man, I ain’t never heard Carrot Top yell at his audience about “Drunk Cunt!” and “Go see something good! Go see fucking Madonna!”
It’s nasty for sure, but immediately afterwards Bill seems genuinely remorseful. “I’m sorry folks”, he sighs. “I just don’t like having ‘you suck’ shouted at me.”
For a fella so calm and effortlessly cool in most of the available recordings, it’s something of a shock to see him explode so spectacularly. The show becomes a slagging match between performer and audience, with Bill threatening to leave on several occasions and staying put only because the crowd seem to support his decision.
It’s a fairly scary performance, for sure, but one of those “car-crash” spectacles that a motherfucker can’t help but be fascinated by.
You also might try and get hold of Ninja Bachelor Party, Bill’s kung-fu spoof, and also the pilot for the never-commissioned British TV show, Counts Of The Netherworld.
Well, folks, that should keep you fairly busy this next while, is what, so I don’t wanna hear a damn word out of you, or no motherfucking supper is gonna be the outcome.
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando