The life and art of Bill Hicks (2005)

“This house notes with sadness the 10th anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks, on February 26, 1994, at the age of 33; recalls his assertion that his words would be a bullet in the heart of consumerism, capitalism and the American dream; and mourns the passing of one of the few people who may be mentioned as being worthy of inclusion with Lenny Bruce in any list of unflinching and painfully honest political philosophers.”
– Stephen Pound, British MP, 2004.

I’m watching a ghost – and a damn funny one as far as ghosts go. A pudgy-faced Texan, comic Bill Hicks puffs on a cigarette and paces the stage, launching into a tirade against his nation. Outrage building, the black-garbed comic berates his US audience for their inferior grade eight education, and spits venom about the Oz-like public relations machinery that fronted for the “fascist” Ronald Reagan.

Much of Bill Hicks’s late eighties and early nineties material has an eerie relevance today. “You know we armed Iraq,” he told the audience in a 1992 routine preserved on the CD Revelations. “I wondered about that too, you know during the Persian Gulf war those intelligence reports would come out: “Iraq: incredible weapons – incredible weapons.” How do you know that? “Uh, well…we looked at the receipts.”

“I’ll show you politics in America,” he added. “Here it is, right here. ‘I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.’ ‘I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.’ ‘Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!’ ”

Once describing himself as “Chomsky with dick jokes,” the motormouth Texan reviled comics who blunted their edge to become court jesters for the throne of commercialism. He hated the sell-outs who offered the rubes inoffensive humour about airline flights, cats and McDonald’s. Shills like Jay Leno came under his withering attack for urging

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