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The Last Word
Bill Hicks, even on network television, pushed the boundaries of acceptability, and always skated near the edge of what so many would consider “bad taste.” No matter, Bill was always viciously funny, which is why David Letterman sites Bill as one of his all-time favorite stand-up comedians. It is also why he refused to air Bill’s 12th (and final) Late Night performance on the day it had been recorded (October 1, 1993).
Four months later, Bill succumbed to the pancreatic cancer that was attacking him at the time of this performance … but it wasn’t until January 30, 2009 (more than 15 years after his death) that Letterman invited Bill’s mother Mary onto Late Night, aired the unbroadcast set, and publicly apologized for refusing to air what wound up being Bill’s last network television performance.
Fellow comedian Richard Belzer, New Yorker writer John Lahr, and David Letterman discuss CBS’ refusal to air Bill’s last “Late Night” w/David Letterman.