Twenty years after his death, Bill Hicks is as relevant as ever

Wow. Lots of articles about great men who have the anniversaries of their deaths in February, eh? First Hunter Thompson, now Bill Hicks. HST was an institution very early in my life, but Bill Hicks I had only heard of sparingly until I really sunk my teeth into him about 6-7 years ago. Obviously, when I heard him speak, I latched onto Bill’s words like a baby monkey to its mother’s back – Desperately and with full confidence that he would take me where I wanted to go. Of course Hicks, like Thompson hits all the right notes to make any decently-educated, suburban white male’s ears perk up. “Whoa, he’s talking about drugs, he’s anti-establishment, right on, man.” Like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hicks hid his intellectualism in plain sight. Whether or not his audience picked up on that was another thing. But now, twenty years after his death, we lack a voice as damning or lyrical as Hicks’. Yes, we need him, but luckily he’s still able to live on through quarter-century old stand up acts placed on YouTube and Wikiquote.

Kinda crazy how this is all about a moderately popular stand up comedian, huh? For those of you who are uninitiated, let’s go back to 1993, friends. With Bill Hicks’ “Positive Drug Story.” For the Bill Hicks fans, you know this one. Light up a cigarette (don’t) and let’s have a chuckle. 

Wouldn’t you like to see a positive LSD story on the news? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition? Perhaps? Wouldn’t that be interesting? Just for once? “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 is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”

More after the jump.

I’m 31-years-old right now. The fact that Bill Hicks was only thirty-two when he died of pancreatic cancer feels like a softball-sized tumor upside the head. Maybe, Hicks simply didn’t need to live past 32. That explanation feels entirely too otherworldly for a guy like Hicks, but maybe not? Hicks would probably be the first person to admit that he’s wrong about everything. We’re all just making this up as we go along, right? We are the imaginations of ourselves and our important thoughts appear from the ether like a welcome fart.

Some people don’t like Bill Hicks because he’s “mean.” I subscribe to his dogma, thoroughly, and I don’t really think he’s being mean so much as being honest. He won’t suffer a fool. Life is too short for that nonsense. There’s no need to be polite when you can get down to the brass tacks in a sharp sentence.

I’ve noticed a certain anti-intellectualism going around this country; since about 1980, coincidentally enough. … I was in Nashville, Tennessee, and after the show I went to a Waffle House. I’m not proud of it, but I was hungry. And I’m sitting there eating and reading a book. I don’t know anybody, I’m alone, so I’m reading a book. The waitress comes over to me like, [gum smacking] “What’chu readin’ for?” I had never been asked that. Not “What am Ireading?”, but “What am I reading for?” Goddammit, you stumped me. Hmm, why do I read? I suppose I read for a lot of reasons, one of the main ones being so I don’t end up being a fucking waffle waitress.

You could never read a book in your life and keep yourself from becoming a waitress though, Bill.

Somehow Bill Hicks is as fresh as ever in 2014, and with the comical level of branding and pimping of one’s self even at a molecular level nowadays, we become marketing agents as soon as we learn to read and write. Imagine a six-year-old retweeting Barney or whatever is popular to kids this week? The first person to be raised from birth on social media has been born. What would Bill say about this? Probably the same thing he was saying two decades ago:

Hey, at least twenty years ago we didn’t know McDonald’s was made of plastic yoga mats. It must’ve been much easier to sleep back then. These days you know what you’re selling, and you still have to do it with a smile. That’s a whole new level of evil.

Even though Bill Hicks has been off this planet for twenty years, there’s still many things we can learn. Mostly, **** Denis Leary. Never forget that Leary ripped off Hicks, took his smoking ‘schtick’ for his own and then decided to yell into the microphone when it behooved his untalented ass. Line by line sometimes. Hey look, it’s Joe Rogan!

We can also learn the greatest lesson of all, and this is before the age of the internet commenter (I love you all) – People will ruin everything. Any person who has the gall enough to make something from themselves and present it to the public will inevitably have it torn to shreds by the masses. I’ve come to grips with this. Bill Hicks never did. We can all be more like him.

In the end, Bill always spoke the truth, and the truth is scary, the truth hurts and the truth is funny. That’s why Bill will always be an everlasting figure in the world of comedy, even if he arguably wasn’t even that funny. Bill Hicks is the epitome of stand up comedy. He’s someone who can take pain, the core and centralized base of ‘funny’ and take it from being located primarily in the rectum and move it to your brain and open your eyes. Of course, when you open them, you’ll be so terrified all you can do is laugh. Let’s honor Bill Hicks in that way, and let’s end this totally self-serving and meandering article with his performance on Letterman that was banned by Dave himself twenty years ago.

Published on February 27, 2014 at 11:33 pm
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