As a young boy in America, I WAS ALWAYS TOLD I COULD GROW UP TO BE ANYTHING I WANTED TO BE. I COULD BE A FIREMAN, A POLICEMAN, A DOCTOR, AND THEN, FOR THE FIRST TIME, SOMETHING CALLED AN ASTRONAUT.— Bill Hicks (“REVELATIONS”)
When I met Bill, he raged atop the club comedy world, and two of his favorite topics of onstage conversation were the freedom to smoke and the United States Constitution. Specifically the First Amendment Rights, under which the right to BURN THE AMERICAN FLAG falls.
1989— When asked if he would stand for the patriotic cigarette lighting portrait, as expected, Bill’s “YES” was immediate. And never missing an opportunity to push a joke, opinion, or social commentary at least one step closer to the edge, he quickly added, “BUT I’D RATHER YOU TAKE A PICTURE OF ME PULLING A KNOTTED FLAG OUT OF MY ASS,” a reference to Robert Mapplethorpe, the New York City, homoerotic photographer/pornographer, whose The Perfect Moment exhibition at the usually staid Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., was the High Society scandal of the day.
1991— 48 (FUNNY) HOURS WITH BILL HICKS
At the height of Bill’s career, just after the release of his second album, Relentless, CBS’ 48 HOURS (news/feature) program featured Bill in a segment, in which they followed Bill as he hopped club to club in New York City, with Letterman’s ignorant, Ivy League talent coordinator, as he prepared, for his next day’s scheduled appearance on Letterman’s Late Night television show. The complete performance, one of Bill’s best of the twelve he did for Letterman, is included at the end of the video.
Bill vs. CBS
After his 12th and final performance on CBS’ Late Night, Bill Hicks likened his association with David Letterman’s show as an “Abusive Relationship,” with him playing the role of the beaten wife.
After the abrupt cancellation Bill called his friend, The New Yorker‘s John Lahr (Bert’s son), and told him the story of his and David Letterman’s 10-year “ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP,” and also wrote Lahr a 32-page, hand-written letter, filled with detail and elaboration.
Impressed by the passion and honesty in Bill telling his story, the intensity in how Bill told it, Lahr took it to his editor, and wrote (“THE GOAT BOY RISES“), for the magazine’s November 1, 1993 issue.
Truth After The Storm In the week following his CBS and David Letterman rejection, Bill revealed more of his deepest, honest feelings about what he called his “abusive relationship” with David Letterman, CBS, television, and the television industry in general.
“Season Of The Witch” b/ Donovan (1968) ((audio))
— The New Yorker (November 1, 1993)
Two of the most enduring documents, and a reminder of who Bill Hicks was, were John Lahr’s profile for The New Yorker, and the bootleg recording of Bill in West Palm Beach,. One week after the rejection, Bill repeats the same (TV-friendly) set that CBS refused, and in telling his home audience how he felt about it, he said how much he respected Letterman, but was honest about how he had always been at odds with network television, leading him to recall his first Late Night appearance, including the last bit, another joke the network “standards and practices” lawyers found objectionable.
With the CBS rejection fresh on his mind, Bill aims his pointed and often pornographic opinion at the corporate culture of American network television that he finds so offensive. In doing so, Hicks recalls (repeats) both his first (1988) and last (1993) Letterman sets.
Double Standards and Practices (( 1.))Bill Hicks’ “Abusive Relationship” with David Letterman
— — Bill Hicks, West Palm Beach (October 7, 1993)
October 7, 1993 — This (bootleg) recording is Bill Hicks at The Comedy Corner in West Palm Beach, Florida, the week after CBS refused to air his twelfth (and last) Late Night with David Letterman performance. Still emotional, on what he had called his home stage for the last two years, Bill does the same set CBS had rejected, and after goes into a long, passionate, and revealing description of what he called a 10-year “abusive relationship” with David Letterman.
Double Standards and Practices (( 1.)) Bill Hicks In The Beginning with David Letterman
— — Bill Hicks, West Palm Beach (October 7, 1993)
The week after his set was pulled from the Letterman Show, Bill was still seething as he took the stage at the Comedy Corner in West Palm Beach. For the past two years Bill had considered the Corner his home club, and where he felt most comfortable onstage. It was an audience filled with friends and who he considered family. The few who knew, at the time of these recordings, that Bill was dying, and what he was revealing was his most heart-felt, feelings, delivered with most vicious honesty. JAY LENO SELLING DORITOS.
“Double Standards and Practices” is part of a recording that more than once has been misidentified. I’ve never seen it identified correctly, so having been there, and having a copy of the original recording, directly from the source, Jim Morin (Miami Herald’s editorial cartoonist at the time), this post is to keep the “Double Standards” record straight. This recording was taped, by Morin, with a hand-held cassette recorder, as he sat with Jim Virga (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel photographer) and me at a table in the back of The Comedy Corner, the small club in West Palm Beach, that for the last two years of his life, Bill had called home.
The two Jims and I were three of the forty who saw this legendary, one-off performance, one of Bill’s last. Four months later, the pancreatic cancer Bill had fought (and performed with) for nearly two years had killed him.
One of America’s most powerful, Left-Leaning Libertarian voices and Viciously Funny Truth Teller commentators had been silenced. Bill was 32 years old when he died.
David Letterman’s apology to Bill Hicks, for having agreed with CBS Standards And Practices decision not air Bill’s twelfth (and last) Late Night performance, was inviting Bill’s mother onto the program, and show her and the 2009 Late Night audience, Bill’s (until then) unseen appearance he had made sixteen years earlier (October 1, 1993).
nBill Hicks vs. CBS — A bootleg (audio) recording of the first performance Bill’s did after the Letterman cancellation. It was recorded at the Comedy Corner in West Palm Beach, in front of Bill’s home audience, in the town where Bill was diagnosed, and received treatment for the last two years of his life. nBill Hicks “UnResurrected” — His criticizing organized religion and corporate advertising always kept Bill out of the mainstream. A (Religion And State) compilation, unearthed and produced for the World’s first Covid-Infected Easter. nBill Hicks vs. War — Bill was virtually alone, the one with the courage to speaking out against America’s first War in Iraq, the War, at the time in 1991, had the support of more than 80 percent of the American people.
FOR THE (HONEST TO GOD) RECORD
Sane Man(1989) — first official video recorded Bill Hicks show at his home club (The Laff Stop) in Houston, Texas.
Dangerous (1990) — first official live recording of Bill in a small-crowd, late night NYC (comedy) club.
One Night Stand (1991) — A 30-minute performance at Chicago’s Vic Theater, recorded and produced by HBO.
Relentless(1992) — In the minds of many fans, friends and believers, Bill’s second album was his best. — The Relentless (video) performance was recorded at the Centaur Theatre, the night after the annual Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Revelations (1992) — Video of a November performance at the Dominion Theatre, London, England.
Arizona Bay (1993) — Filled with his distaste for Los Angeles and the Television Industry, Bill’s third album, featured soft (sometimes sweet) guitar interludes between live, stand up performances.
Rant In E Minor (1993) — With only his family and closest friends knowing his time was short, Bill’s opinions were razor sharp and raw. Notably against long-time ally Jay Leno. Called to ask why Bill was speaking of him so angrily onstage? Hung up, thinking it was Dom Irerra calling as a joke. Jay calls back, saying it was really him. Don’t hang up. Understood that Bill couldn’t not express his feelings about Jay selling Doritos. Always respected David Letterman for never doing an Ad (Super Bowl w/ Jerry Seinfeld?)
Two years later, just months before his death, Bill did his twelfth “Late Night,” which was pulled from the broadcast, after David Letterman (agreeing with the CBS “Standards and Practices” department) deemed it too offensive to air. Sixteen years later, Letterman invited Bill’s mother onto the program, publicly apologized for having pulled the set, and broadcast it then, posthumously.
1988— West Palm Beach Carefree Theater. The Actor’s Rep, Clematis Street. Dale Chihuly and Larry Corning. One Eye, One Arm. Free Press. Palm Beach. Richard Lustig. Bruce Sutka, Dennis Dunn. Dan McDonald, Rebecca Pirto Chris Hunter Lenny Sandy Berger Hawaiian Inn, Washboard Bill, Mary McClain, Pete Gallagher, Erik Hokkannen, Tobacco Road,
LISTEN (If You Dare)
— Bill Hicks (1993) pornographic depiction of Rush Limbaugh,
with Barbara Bush in a role you never imagined.
Where’s Bill Hicks when we need him?
The Realities Of Life and the Peddling Of Lies
Oprah & Donald (peas in the same pod of deception)
WE TV — The Housewives of Whatever City, Hip-Hop Families, Wedding Bootcamp, Teenage Mothers, Mob Wives?, Professional Wrestling, and whatever else might shame a 14-year-old girl about the image of her body, some (not MSNBC) would say the Oprah effect might even be bigger than Mark Zuckerberg’s.
No matter how many right-wing, white supremacists think so. Their misguided worship of Bill is another obvious example of just how stupid members of the “Cult of (evil) Personality” are, and exhibit their ignorance everyday as Donald Trump’s New Klan attacks the United States of America, land that Bill loved.
1992 — Relentless The Conscience Elvis Chicks Dig Jerks
HURRICANE ANDREW (AUG 24, 1992)
1993 — Arizona Bay Dark Days The People Who Hate People Party Empty Meetings People? Virus With Shoes.
1991 — NYC “Teddy’s Sexy Romp” •MTV SPRING BREAK AT THE KENNEDY COMPOUND (4/13/91) — William Kennedy Smith David Letterman Bruce Helander Martin Mull Mick Jones SoHo Opening Mexican Restaurant (Basement/Brown Paper Shades) Colin Quinn Dennis Leary Not Bill Hicks Downtown Late (Closing) Set Tom Ryan … Leaving the next day, knew Tom from West Palm, and he was coincidentally there. Beers after the show, to empty streets, covered with a dusting of (still white) snow. Nice, knowing I’d be heading back to West Palm Beach later that morning. • Palm Beach Babylon (1992) b/ Murray Weiss / Bill Hoffman The scandals that rocked Palm Beach. Fantasy Island, playground to the rich, the obnoxious, the insatiable, and those who are nothing other than criminally selfish and mean. What emerges from Weiss and Hoffman’s well written (and researched) book, is the realization that the salacious and scandalous likes of and Roxanne Pulitzer and William Kennedy Smith have nothing on Henry Flagler, Addison Mizner, and Joseph Kennedy, who frolicked (fucked around) on the small tropical island, generations before Hunter Thompson, drunk, rude, and clutching a tin of cocaine, got thrown out of the Breakers Hotel for threatening his wife in the hallway. We took him (safely away) to the Hilton, downtown WEST Palm Beach. It appears scandals, whether about sex, thievery, or murder, are an old island tradition that Weiss and Hoffman (award-winning New York Post reporters) have documented in a most entertaining way. INQUIRING MINDS NEED TO KNOW The incident began on the evening of Good Friday, March 29, 1991, when Smith, then 30 years old, was in a bar (named Au Bar) in Palm Beach, Florida, with his uncle, SenatorTed Kennedy, and his cousin Patrick J. Kennedy. There Smith met Patricia Bowman, a 29-year-old woman and another young woman at the bar. According to a police affidavit by investigating police officers who interviewed Bowman, Smith asked for a ride back to a nearby house owned by the Kennedy family. Smith and Bowman then walked along the beach…. Bowman told police that Smith then violently raped her. At trial, Smith said that he and Bowman had engaged in sex, but it had been consensual. Although three women, including a law student and a medical student, were willing to testify that Smith had sexually assaulted them in incidents in the 1980s that were not reported to the police, their testimony was excluded on the grounds that the pattern of behavior reported was not similar enough in its details to the Bowman case. Smith was acquitted of all charges.
West Palm Beach
It was at the Comedy Corner in West Palm Beach where I met the best stand up comedians. Comedy clubs were the suburban rage, starting in the mid-1980s, running into the 1990s. Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Sam Kinison, Rita Rudner, Rosie O’Donnell, Paula Poundstone, The Amazing Johnathan, Tom Kenny, Dom Irrera, Rich Jeni, Tommy Davidson, Chris Rock, Colin Quinn, Gilbert Gottfried, Steven Wright, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Julia Sweeny, Kevin Nealon …
The Night Snow Fell in Hell’s Kitchen Sitting in the backseat of a cab, driving from Laguardia (airport) to the Algonquin Hotel at 59 West 44th Street. New York Post Headline (“Teddy’s Sexy Romp”) held by guys standing on the islands separating the lanes of traffic through the toll booth driving into Manhattan. Midtown Manhattan / New York City Bill Hick’s apartment while he was in Chicago, filming his “One Night Stand” (HBO) special. Refrigerator Door (Sweet Onions and Elvis) find picture. Music (Cassette Tapes) “I wonder what’s in this box over here?” King Missile — “The World Would Have to End Without Willie.” Eric Johnson — “Cliff’s Of Dover” Elvis (“Relentless”) Jimi Hendrix Bob Dylan “Did You Know He Sings? Nirvana Rage Against The Machine Eric Johnson John Hiatt Marblehead JohnsonTool Clutch King Missile (Downtown NYC) Hell’s Kitchen (Fresh As The Fallen Snow) Refrigerator, Cassette Tapes, Public Access Porn Bill in Chicago taping his One Night Stand for HBO Dennis Leary Late Set “You’re Not Bill Hicks” Last Bill Hicks & David Letterman Mick Jones (The Clash) Martin MullFM (movie) Martin Mull is an American actor and comedian who has appeared in many television and film roles. He is also a painter and recording artist. As an actor, he first became known in his role on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and its spin-off Fernwood 2 Night. Among his other notable roles are Colonel Mustard in the 1985 film Clue. SOAP — An American sitcom television series that originally ran on ABC from September 13, 1977, until April 20, 1981. The show was created as a night-time parody of daytime soap operas, presented as a weekly half-hour prime time comedy. Similar to a soap opera, the show’s story was presented in a serial format, and featured melodramatic plotlines including alien abduction, demonic possession, extramarital affairs, murder, kidnapping, unknown diseases, amnesia, cults, organized crime warfare, a communist revolution and teacher-student relationships. In 2007 it was listed as one of Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME,” and in 2010, the Tates and the Campbells ranked at number 17 in TV Guide‘s list of “TV’s Top Families.” All That Glitters
1992 — NYC “Teddy’s Sexy Romp” (New York Post Headline) Driving into New York City from Laguardia (International [Third-World] Airport) Bruce Helander — Downstairs Mexican Restaurant, after show dinner with Martin Mull and a dozen of his artist friends, including Bruce Helander, an old, ’68, RISD studio mate, and now the gallery owner showing (representing) the comedian’s serious work as a painter. Bruce Helander Susan Hall (Kiss Army) Dale Chihuly Paul Fisher Duane Hansen Late Night, after opening, Empty gallery, dark, except for lights directed on the Hansen figures, standing still along the walls, in the same spots where they had been while being stared at, their life-like look fascinating, the white wine drinking, privileged attendees. As all of Bruce’s openings. Royalty, Senators, the generally rich. Court Jester. Met when shooting a pictue of a nude sculpture called the “Sphinx,” on its hands and knees, waiting in the front window of his gallery. Not what the Palm Beach “proper” were used to seeing on Worth Avenue. The protest voices were loud, but there were plenty who liked it. Susan Beach Worth Avenue (Gallery) Russian Paper Collage Bright Blue Cowboy Hat and Orange Boots KGB guided Pied Piper, collecting paper for collage. “Dave’s Dilema” In Palm Beach, more a Jester / Hustler “The Salesman” b/ Duane Hansen Selling Ken Noland Exxon CEO Wife and Daughter “250,000, if you’re not selling it.” Palm Beach Cottage Wendy Atlantic Avenue Vintage Coca Cola Wall Dana Gould Carolyn Rae Donna Bollard THE COLES Claudia — Annie Lennox Susan Hall (Kiss Army) Martin Mull Martin Mull (Painter) Mick Jones Opening at Helander’s SoHo Gallery BACK TO NYC Refrigerator — Onion Story Sweet Onion Cassettes — Music Public Access Porn Suicidal Tendencies SoHo Gallery Martin Mull X David Letterman Mick Jones Malcolm X (Leather Jacket) lost picture NYC
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — MC HAMMER • MC HAMMER (12 / 07 / 91) — Kevin Nealon / Nora Dunn / Phil Hartman — Kevin’s wife Linda, (PETA) executive, and other vegetarians at after (SNL) show. John SuNuNu rowing a boat (cartoon) drawing by Kevin Hanging in House.
Bill Hicks — NYC Elvis Jimi Hendrix Bob Dylan – “You know, he sings?” Eric Johnson, John Hiatt, King Missile, Rage Against the Machine Nirvana Tool David Letterman Avoid being seen in warm-up
— dave. / original
Bill Hicks Elvis Nirvana Pearl Jam Singles Rage Against The Machine Tool — 1993 Lollapalooza, Bill opens for Tool Faith No More Red Hot Chili Peppers David Sanborn Night Music Miles Davis Marcus Miller Miles w/ Prince King Missile “The World Would Have To End Without Willie” John Hiatt
BOB — “You know, he sings?”
Lou Reed — New York (Richard Belzer)
Dennis Leary — Empty Room, Curtain drawn Tom Ryan ? — 3AM downtown, empty street, fresh dusting of snow
JUSTE POUR RIRE (Just For Laughts) Montreal Canada David Letterman Mick Jones Martin Mull “Teddy’s Sexy Romp” Bruce Helander — in Letterman line Warm up, not saying I’m from Palm Beach SoHo Gallery Saturday Night Live Kevin Nealon — John Sununu rowing wife Linda After Show, Peta officer/Nora Dunn — Vogue Phil Hartman Hammer — Host and Musical Guest NEXT WEEK: Steve Martin and James Taylor King Missile CBGB
When discussing Stand-Up Comedy, Bill Hicks is often mentioned and compared to Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, as one of the few uncompromising voices, willing to sacrifice a carreer, for always telling the brutally honest Truth, no matter how offensive.
Referred to as “The Dark Poet,” Bill Hicks occupied the #13 position on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the all-time best stand up comedians. He was also atop the “HOT” list (best stand up comedian) in Rolling Stone’s (1989) “Hot” Summer issue.
That same year, Bill is featured (above) in a CBS 48 Hours in Comedy episode, and also records an HBO “One Night Stand” performance at the Vic Theater in Chicago.
September 17, 1996 — Tool released their second full-length album, Ænima (“ON-ima”). The band enlisted the help of producer David Bottrill, who had produced some of King Crimson‘s albums, while Jones collaborated with Cam de Leon to create Ænimas Grammy-nominated artwork. The album was dedicated to stand-up comedian Bill Hicks, who died two and a half years earlier. The band intended to raise awareness about Hicks’s material and ideas, because they felt that Tool and Hicks “were resonating similar concepts.” In particular, Ænima’s final track “Third Eye” is preceded by a clip of Hicks’ performances, and the lenticular casing of the Ænima album packaging as well as the chorus of the title track “Ænema” make reference to a sketch from Hicks’s Arizona Bay, in which he contemplates the idea of a California Earthquake that sends Los Angeles falling into the Pacific Ocean.
Previously Unreleased Bill Hicks Album to Accompany Reissued Catalog
The entire audio and video works of controversial late comedian Bill Hicks, whose darkly acerbic wit and socially conscious observations helped define Generation X comedy in the Nineties, will be reissued beginning next month. In partnership with his estate, the production company Comedy Dynamics will make all of Hicks’ albums and video releases available to digital and VOD retailers on April 28th. Concurrently with the re-release of Hicks’ albums, SiriusXM will play his catalog on its Raw Dog channel.
A DVD box set of his video works will come out on August 18th, and an album of previously unreleased Hicks audio is slated for October 27th.
In addition to the reissues and new releases, a Hicks special is set to air in movie theaters for one night. Comedy Dynamics Presents: Bill Hicks, which comprises footage from his Relentless DVD (filmed at the Montreal International Comedy Festival in 1991) and never-before-seen footage, will play in select theaters on April 27th. Tickets go on sale March 27th via Fathom Events.
“After many months of hard work and dedication, we couldn’t be more humbled to assume control of the Bill Hicks catalog,” Comedy Dynamics President of Production Brian Volk-Weiss said in a statement. “Bill Hicks is one of the most important stand-up comedians to have walked this planet. The duty to expose him to a new generation of comedy fans is a true honor, we’ll do him proud.”
Hicks made waves in comedy before his untimely death of pancreatic cancer at age 32 in 1994. He performed his first gig at age 13 and, by the time of his death he was averaging 250 shows a year. His sets would routinely embrace social taboos from religion to Hitler without mercy. He angered CBS producers with an appearance on Late Show With David Letterman by saying, “If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries,” who censored the bit.
Since his death, he has featured on several lists of the best comedians and his style still echoes in the comedy of Marc Maron, Dave Attell and Patton Oswalt. Alt-metallers Tool are also notable fans, as they hired Hicks to open for them on their 1993 Lollapalooza tour and dedicated their second album, Ænima, to him.