Splitsider

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Legendary Comedian Bill Hicks Was Definitely a Legend, but Was He a Comedian?

Unpopular Opinions is a new weekly column in which a writer takes a stand against popular opinion, whether it's asserting the true merit of a supposedly guilty pleasure or dissenting against the universally lauded.

Bill Hicks was undoubtedly a massive influence on contemporary standup comedy. The impact of his confrontational style can be seen in countless comedians today, from David Cross to Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron to Denis Leary. Because of this inarguable influence and the high regard in which others hold him, I’ve attempted on several occasions to appreciate Hicks’s material. Each time I listen to it, I have the same reaction: Yes, I agree with most of what you’re saying, but… Where are the jokes? Where’s the comedy?

After trying time and again to figure out just why everyone respects him, I realized I had made a mistake: I was looking to laugh. Bill Hicks was a smart, impassioned man who used comedy to educate people. But he was not a comedian, and he should not be remembered as such.

For all Hicks’ influence on comedy, the comedians who remember him rarely focus on his actual humor. Richard Pryor called him “an inspired and inspiring truth teller, dangerous and brave and scary, all at once.” Simon Pegg said, “Bill Hicks wasn’t just a comic, he was a crusader against humanity’s relentless capacity to underachieve.” Even non-comedians, those you’d expect to look beyond the craft and simply enjoy the jokes, ignore Hicks’ humor. Fellow iconoclast Tom Waits said Hicks was a “blowtorch, excavator, truthsayer, and brain specialist. He will correct your vision. Others will drive on the road he built.” While many comedians cite Hicks as an influence. few remember him as someone who made them laugh.

Everyone considers Hicks a comedian because of context: He performed in comedy clubs and released comedy albums, and comedians keep his comedic legacy alive. However, by definition, a comedian is a performer whose act is designed to elicit laughs. Let’s check out one of those classic Hicks zingers: “As long as one person lives in darkness then it seems to be a responsibility to tell other people.” Insightful, but certainly not the work of a performer whose goal is to make people laugh.

Not that Hicks tried to claim otherwise. Once heckled by a man who said he didn’t go to comedy shows to think, Hicks responded, “Gee! Where do you go to think? I’ll meet you there!” There’s little comedy in his routine because Hicks didn’t care about being funny. He cared about enlightening others, and he used comedy to do so. Listen to him rail against marketing:

The audience laughs despite Hicks repeating his earnestness. “There’s no joke here whatsoever,” he tells them.

To Hicks, comedy was more than a weapon against the evils of the world; it was a means to enlighten others, like on the possibilities of drug use (starting at 1:29):

Just as Hicks educated his audience about the inhumanity of marketing, here he teaches them about the positive side of drugs. Take away his news story joke structure, and you find Hicks sharing a truly enlightened experience:

“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's no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves.”

Hicks added jokes to make messages like these palatable to a larger audience. As a noted nanny-philosopher once said, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

Bill Hicks died young, forever immortalized as that passionate voice of reason in an otherwise confused and corrupted world. Had Hicks lived on, he might have created his variation of Real Time with Bill Maher, where he could drop the pretense of performing comedy and focus on the issues he valued. Or he might have found a home in podcasts, as Pete Holmes suggested on a recent episode of You Made It Weird, since the free-form medium doesn’t “require a laugh every three to five seconds.” But even if Hicks had instead aged into mediocrity, he would remain an inspiration to comics because he helped destroy preconceived notions of what standup could be. Unlike those he inspired, however, Hicks valued educating his audience over making them laugh. Which makes sense, because he wasn’t really a comedian.

If you have your own Unpopular Opinion you want to make a case for, send a pitch to Jesse David Fox.

Justin Geldzahler considers himself a comedian because one time milk came out his nose and two kids laughed. He has since retired.

Sponsored Content
  • Victor

    He's definitely a comedian, it's a bit absurd to try and say otherwise. I mean, he just is. No, he's not Steve Martin, with gags and silliness aplenty, he's a very different flavour of comedian. But very definitely a comedian. It seems odd to to even have to point that out that. He's a comedian. The fact he doesn't really make YOU laugh does not make that any less so. He's a comedian.

  • Rian

    Groan. I'm not familar with the writer of this article so Im going to make a bold assumption…he likes to hear the sound of his own voice. This article is pure madness starting with the premise and ending with the fact that it does not appear to be very well researched. It's insane to even be having this discussion but Bill Hicks is absolutely a comedian in the truest since of the word. To allow his politically themed jokes and social critisms to overshadow his desire/need to make people laugh is to miss the point entirely. The fact is that Hicks was hilarious and he consisdered himself a comedian. Thats really all that needs to be said. I implore anyone who is unfamilar with Bill Hicks to ignore this article and discover the joy of Hick's comedy for themselves.
    Thank You

  • Brian Shea@facebook

    Thank God someone else thinks this way. He was not a comedian. He was a social commentator pointing out things he found absurd. That doesn't diminish his influence or make someone bad for not finding him funny. I've listened to him many times and almost never laughed. I did think though. That's the gift he had, but it doesn't make him a comedian.

    • http://www.twitter.com/pablogoldstein Pablo Goldstein

      @Brian Shea@facebook "He was a social commentator pointing out things he found absurd." That's a comedian.

  • mduffy

    I have to disagree with this post. To say something like "Take away his news story joke structure" takes away from your point that he is not a comedian. He frames both bits cited in a comedic light, with the repeated glimpses into the mind of a marketer and the new story structure and if the song about the world being one moron lighter isn't an attempt at comedy I'm not sure what is. Even though he doesn't elicit a laugh from you he elicits one from the audience which, as you point out, is the goal of a comedian. The best comedians make us think either about ourselves or the people around and also make us laugh as they take us to this discovery. Take Louis C.K.'s bit about the soldier on the plane. A good portion of the audience discovers a truth about themselves, that they, like Louie, enjoy the mere thought of a good deed while they laugh about it. It's just a story that functions as a thought provoking stroke of comic genius, which is a lot of what Hicks seemed to do.

  • paperbackwriter

    You know, every thought doesn't need to become a blog post. Spending this much time trying to say Bill Hicks wasn't a comedian—when he meets every single requirement of the job description—is tantamount to gazing at someone else's navel and telling us about it. "It isn't a belly button; it's the seal remnants of an umbilicus." "Can't it be both? Aren't they sometimes the same thing?" "It isn't even a button, you know."

  • bremserr

    This is a reach. People laugh when they watch Bill Hicks. I laugh when I watch Bill Hicks. I do not think I am misinterpreting him along with everyone in every theater and nightclub everywhere always (and that you are the only one picking up on the real truth of the matter, which is that this is very serious stuff). Yes, he was nontraditional. Yes, he had serious, non-funny, insightful asides. Yes, he was a comedian. To say otherwise is borderline trolling.

  • Frank Mitchell@facebook

    As with most of comedy, it's all about taste. Freud once wrote that the basic understanding of comedy was in making the meaningless meaningful, and/or making the meaningful meaningless. Can anyone deny that Bill Hicks was the definition of irreverence to just about all we took to be true or 'important'? He seemed to be a propagator of unity and understanding and hated the social and societal constructs we are all born into and never seem to shake. Personally, I feel that the greatest of comedians were philosophers at heart, because the only way to be able to effectively comment on society is to be an active part in it and observe your surroundings. I think that just because you find his mechanics of joke delivery easily dissected, doesn't negate the work that went into it. He was seasoned. He was in clubs every night. He got laughs, not all the time, but he got them. An excerpt in your article reads, "He cared about enlightening others, and he used comedy to do so." That statement could be used to describe many more comics than just the one you're besmirching now. I'm wondering where you found that definition for 'comedian', because it had never occurred to me that was the sole function of a comic. Just to get laughs. By this definition, it would seem that you would have hated George Carlin's last 20-30 years of work.

  • Victor

    He was a social commentator AND a comedian. He worked as a comedian. He was a comedian. Again, him not making a person laugh much, does not mean he isn't a comedian, it just means he's a comedian who doesn't make you laugh much, even whilst you agreed with his points.

    He thought of himself as a comedian, he worked as a comedian, he was a comedian. To try and say anything else is plain silly.

  • paperbackwriter

    I look forward to the follow-up about whether or not Anthony Bourdain is a chef.

  • http://www.nathansmart.com Nathan Smart

    I've always respected Hicks but didn't laugh a bunch at all the material I've heard. But, the clips you posted made me laugh a ton (even though I've heard them before) so thanks! I guess I'll have to go back to that old material again.

  • Ian@twitter

    So he's not your kind of comedian. Got it.

  • http://www.mepreport.com Russ Gooberman

    If you're looking for plain laughs, I would check out BHSM (Bill Hicks Sane Man). As is the case with many of Hicks's successors (Carlin and Louis CK come to mind), these performers felt that they had earned the right to make their acts more preachy and political once their relative levels of funnyness were beyond reproach. Hicks had a faster and funnier rhythm in his early 20s and adopted a more long-form storytelling side later on.

    Reletnless is amazing, but it ain't the funniest Bill Hicks bit out there. Even his last British performance, "Rant in E Minor" outpaces it for funny.

  • swiftswork

    This wasn't the Unpopular Opinion I was hoping for, really. 'Bill Hicks was a smart, impassioned man who used comedy to educate people'; 'an inspired and inspiring truth teller, dangerous and brave and scary, all at once'; 'He will correct your vision.' You keep painting him as a truth-teller, someone who taught people to think clearly, someone who cut through the bullshit, as it were. But his irreverence is confusing and violent; it's destructive. His anger carries with it a brutal arrogance. He believes in the virtue of his own isolation and cynicism (sometimes he comes dangerously close to blind adolescent rebellion). I have laughed at and enjoyed some of his bits, but on the whole the content of them carries either simple messages (x is evil etc) or deliberately false, alienating assertions (the headline bit you quoted is a good example of this). I'm always surprised at his cult popularity; in general, people who hate the world earn the world's contempt, yet somehow people see Bill Hicks as some sort of moral crusader. I suppose those same people think there is some sort of 'natural, good' state to be in that society acts as an obstacle to. I've never discovered a Bill Hicks who realised that life and humanity are much more complicated than that. And that's the point of his stand-up, it's irreverently and furiously moralistic, something which comedy, a great upsetter of truth and belief and fact and clear-sightedness, is usually incompatible with. That's where his originality came from: he made those elements work together. But we shouldn't hold him up as a holder of 'truth' and moral authority: if he ever hated anything well, it was authority.

  • BlueGrin

    This is just plain laughable. If you don't consider Hicks a "comedian" it just implies that you don't know what the word means. Sure, in today's world of hacky twitter punchline jokes, Hicks's material wouldn't work (though, even there, he could school you:

    "Jimi Hendrix died in a pool of his own vomit.

    Do you know how much you have to puke to fill up a pool?")

    But he was able to weave material into laughs by the shared experience and internal leaps that the audience took. The marketing bit? F'n genius. It's subtle, meta, and meaningful. As Seinfeld relates, it’s like an Evel Knievel daredevil jump: You take a leap and hope that the audience lands in the same place on the other side. The fact that Hicks was able to get the audience to land there without making explicit what everyone is thinking? That’s skill.

    He was a master, and there's a very good reason that he was always considered a "comic's comic," the guy all of the other comedians in town went to see. If you just see his material as offensive rants for their own sake, you miss the point. Hell, even Goat Boy (who I always thought was a very weak character of his) manages to get an audience to laugh at what is basically pedophilia. Not "Hey watch me talk about the dirty stuff we all do" but "Watch me act out deep dark thoughts that truly make you uncomfortable without totally revolting you." It's a fine line to walk. The laughter doesn't come from what he's saying. He throws lots of filler in there to let the audience stew in their thoughts. Let the uncomfortable thoughts simmer into nervous laughter. He takes even weak material like that, and works it so that it's funny. That DOES take balls. And a ton of skill to do well.

    But more importantly, You do have to put things in context, and without appreciating the environment of Hicks in the 1980’s, you also probably can't appreciate the true rebelliousness of his work, because you don't have the frame of reference. The conservative base that he pissed off was stronger and more pervasive than what counts as political commentary these days. It's harder to push a boulder than it is to kick a pebble.

    For one thing, he was railing against hypocrisies which were deeply personal to him. There was a depth of honesty in his work that few comics are ever able to approach, because of what he was talking about and the background he came out of. His rants against fundamentalism and drug criminalization are a direct result of the uptight Texas culture which spawned him (and his comedy soul brother, Sam Kinison). Comedy as political activism is one thing, but the social mores which he attacked were far more entrenched than one would come against anywhere outside of 1980's/1990's America. He was subversive in a way that few else even come close to. Only Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor are similar. You probably don't find them funny, either.

    In Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" 1980's, his drug rants were the equivalent of challenging Joe McCarthy in the '50's. To do that you HAVE to rant, you HAVE to proselytize a little bit.

    And if you look at the godsquad influence on our society today, you can see just how ahead of his time he was, in that the things which he criticized that were under everybody's radar 20 years ago are smacking us in the face today. The reason why his jokes seem tame now is that everybody has ripped him off shamelessly since.
    But to make people laugh at it? You have to be a comedian. The material doesn’t have to be just punchlines to be funny, and for people to internally recognize the ludicrous institutions that he was railing against was exactly the point – their ridiculousness were the source of his humor, he was just one of the few able to highlight it.

    The fact that you lack the facilities to appreciate that makes me feel sorry for you, more than anything.

    • Christie Nunley-Littlefield

      Spot on

  • Daniel Hedger@twitter

    See, I always think Bill's comedy was underrated because everyone focuses on the social commentary. He was just funny.

    'I need my sleep. I need about eight hours a day, and about ten at night.'

    'Courtroom for Ted Bundy's trial is packed with women, trying to meet him and give him love letters and wedding-fucking-proposals…and the first thought that enters my mind is, "And I'm not getting laid." What am I doing wrong?'

    'You ever notice that everyone who believes in creationism looks really unevolved? Eyes real close together, big furry hands and feet. "I believe God created me in one day." Yeah, looks like he rushed it.'

    'I just have one of those faces. People come up to me and say, "What's wrong?" Nothing. "Well, it takes more energy to frown than it does to smile." Yeah, you know it takes more energy to point that out than it does to leave me alone?'

  • Steve Austine@twitter

    Would this author consider Stanhope a comedian? If not he should never speak of comedy again and leave it up to the big guys. Hicks was hilarious and Stanhope is even more so. Stanhopes new cd "Before turning the gun on himsel" is a masterpiece.

  • bmmg39

    A "legend" at what, exactly? He wasn't funny as a comedian, and he wasn't insightful as a social commentator. Who were his targets, exactly? Let's see now: big business, President Reagan, pro-lifers, the NRA, religious fundamentalists…in other words, the same, "safe" targets every other "edgy" left-wing comedian has. Want to prove you've got guts? Go after war orphans with pediatric AIDS. I mean, you'd be an A-hole, but, then, you're an A-hole now. At least you'd be an A-hole with a little bit of courage.

  • Chranders

    Hey! I know that guy!

    The writer, not Bill Hicks, whom I don't know personally, but rather J. Geldzahler, who wrote this article, 'Legendary Comedian Bill Hicks Was Definitely a Legend, but Was He a Comedian?', and whom I know.

    And while J. G. sucks and all, I agree with him and all. 'Comedian' doesn't describe Hicks. It isn't a matter of comedic taste, Bluegrin/Ian@twitter/FrankMiller/Victor/EveryoneWhoDidn'tAgreeWithAnUnpopularOpinions article. It's about what's the person's objective, to make someone laugh or prove a point.

    AKA Just how do we define 'comedian' and ultimately 'comedy'?

    AKA The perfect party icebreaker for the cute gal/guy you like who you want to hate.

    Calling him a comedian doesn't work, it puts too much emphasis on humor which the writer, Justin Geldzahler, points out wasn't at the forefront of Hicks mind; it's simply the fastest way for us to sum him up as a critic who's consciously not self-righteous. There's no other word for that. I mean 'satirist' kinda works, but it makes you sound like a tool. And then people don't listen to whatever you're saying about Hicks's legacy on accounta you're such a tool.

    HOWEVER if you don't care about sounding like a tool right about now, read through Provenza's 'Satiristas', and subsequently re-read this quote by Colbert (p. 25). In reference to his comedy reflecting honest passionately held beliefs "that's not my goal and not my definition for success. I'm out for laughs."

    That's a comedian. His objective is comedy.

    *Drops mic*
    *Prat falls*

    • BlueGrin

      @Chranders "It's about what's the person's objective, to make someone laugh or prove a point."

      To argue that 'making people laugh' wasn't Hicks's goal is spectacularly misguided.

      And to throw out Colbert as an example just shows that you don't get it: Of course he's out for laughs, but to pretend that there isn't a viewpoint or an agenda behind every single joke on the Colbert Report makes me question your critical thinking skills.

      You can do both, you know.

  • Anthony Coro

    I dunno, I'm not as well-versed in Hicks as some of the other commenters, but while I've never found him outrageously funny, basically everything I've seen/heard has made me chuckle, but admittedly in a "It's funny 'cause it's true" sort of way. It's not really all that different from late-era George Carlin but Hicks is a lot less abrasive.

  • http://videoshare.tumblr.com Firas Alexander

    I think these unpopular opinions would be better if they were better argued. I'm not in the least bit convinced by this article that Bill Hick's was not a comedian. I wouldn't even agree in a basic manner that the point of comedy is to make people laugh. I think its much more ambiguous than that. Comedy is big enough to encompass a lot of different styles and material, from the basic setup-punchline kind of comedians to the more philosophical and truth seeking that people would associate with a figure like Hicks or as mentioned in posts above Carlin.

  • Colin Perkins

    It's not fair to site the following as an example of Hicks not being a comedian:

    “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's no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves.”

    The reason that isn't fair is because you cut the setup off right before the punchline. Literally, the very next words he speaks are you punchline of that joke. How is that not just carefully picking things out of context?

  • Chranders

    Yes, maybe I should have wrote 'main objective', I'll admit that? The MAIN objective of Hicks wasn't to get a laugh (though he did) or be funny (though he was), but rather to make people think (they did) and stick it to the assholes of the world (oh, man, were they ever).

    I brought up Colbert cause he is one of the best satirists of our time. However, he's a comedian first and foremost because he holds humor ABOVE pushing the envelope or line or whathaveyou. Though it's not like he doesn't push it (pushes it real good in fact), but he wouldn't do so without the laugh being the main goal. Hicks would.

    @BlueGrin did you mean to say "to pretend that there isn't a viewpoint or an agenda behind every single joke on the Colbert Report makes me question your critical thinking skills"? That there are no jokes on that show for the sake of just being dumb? Absolutely no Strangers with Candy type silliness?

    Dramatization:

    Colbert:"Whaddaya got for me today, Smitty?"
    Smitty:"Well what if we–"
    C:"Woops, I was talking to Tall Smitty. Take it away, Tall Smitty."
    Tall Smitty:"Howsabout we introduce Tek Jansen's sidekick, a porpoise named Porpy."
    C:"HA! Haaaa! -Don't get it."
    TS:"But- you laughed?"
    C:"BUT WHY, TALL SMITTY, WHY DID I LAUGH?!"
    TS:"Maybe it's just a simple non-ironic, frivolous yet very funny thing which shouldn't be deconstructed, you know, what with that thing E.B. White said about frogs."
    C:"Not enough agenda, dammit! What else you got?"
    TS: "You eat Bobby? Dance behind Barnie Frank? Do a tumbling act with Dinello and Sedaris?"
    C:"Those all sound hilarious and memorable, but nahhhh."

    UNLESS you were to mean that sometimes the agenda is to make people laugh; then I'd be all like "I agree" this and "no, it's not a cop out" that. What's more is I will say "kudos!" on effortlessly sneaking the phrase 'critical thinking skills' into a conversation that's not about standardized testing or an adult team building retreat. "Kudos!"

    • BlueGrin

      @Chranders
      "That there are no jokes on that show for the sake of just being dumb? Absolutely no Strangers with Candy type silliness?"

      Well, f'n duh. Yes, I will concede that when I said "every single joke has an agenda" there was a bit of hyperbole. But when he spends MONTHS doing an elaborate critique of campaign finance laws through his superpac, there ISN'T an overt agenda? If you missed that then, well, let's add critical analysis tools to the list of buzzwords you will snicker at for lacking.

      Yes, Colbert will do things that are just silly without being serious.

      So did Hicks.

      Hicks did things that were solely for the sake of the message/agenda.

      So does Colbert.

      The primacy of Hicks act was still and always laughter, not agenda. Watch something like Ron Shock's Bill Hicks Chronicles to get a better understanding of the man.

      The composition of each of their acts may be slightly different, but they both did the same thing: comedy while sneaking in (or battering over the head with) their own viewpoints. They're both whores, the only difference is the price.

      To try to pretend otherwise is grasping at straws.

  • carbritokid

    William Melvyn Hicks did go on record once describing himself as being like "Chomsky but with dick jokes"….nothing wrong with you not findng him funny, doesn't mean he wasn't a comedian though.

  • Dmoney

    Enjoyed reading this enlightening perspective. Keep up the good work!

  • Gerry

    His jokes were good enough to make Leary's career. Did you lose a bet or something?

  • Francis Rizzo III@twitter

    I don't agree. Rant in E Minor is hysterical. I admit, I've watched him at times and not laughed, but Rant in E Minor is incredibly funny.

  • Daniel Liddle@twitter

    Regardless of my perspective I love the piece because of the arguments it has inspired in this comment thread. There is already a vexed relationship between comedy and criticism, and the technological acceleration of messages, comic or otherwise, will only serve to highlight the conflation between punctum and punchline in the future.

    Great comments everyone!

    (And also @Chranders I was thinking about the same point in Satiristas! To further support that idea I would also point to Conan O'Brien's answers on 54-55 as a resistance to thinking of comedy through a kind of satirical imperative where criticism and comedy are seen as the same thing. Laughter is the only comic imperative, and I think the White quote does well enough to prove that, as you stated)

    (In other words @Charanders, I am the kind of tool that likes these discussions)

  • Joe Trubbs Again

    I think what the author of this piece is doing what that guy over at The Atlantic does — whip up an obvious falsehood by cherry-picking an argument filled with Swiss cheese, so a bunch of us chumps come over here, eyeball some ads, and fill the comment section with better-quality material. We're doing all the work, and do we get a cut? Anyway, congratulations, maybe you can make a series out of this. Louis CK is not a comedian. Lenny Bruce is not a comedian. THINK OF THE AD TRAFFIC.

  • Cole Lundstrom@facebook

    I think that the author of this article secretly appreciates Bill Hicks for what he was. He may not have been a simple jokey comedian. That is fine by me. He was a man that found a forum for expression and that is quite commendable.

  • http://twitter.com/GerritElzinga Gerrit Elzinga

    "As long as one person lives in darkness then it seems to be a responsibility to tell other people." -

    This isn't from Hicks' stand-up. This section of the argument is null.

  • http://twitter.com/GerritElzinga Gerrit Elzinga

    "As long as one person lives in darkness then it seems to be a responsibility to tell other people"
    This is not part of his stand-up, therefore, that part of your argument is null.

    Any questions?

  • maxzumstein

    It keeps me up at night that so many people think Bill Hicks is a good comedian, or even an "insightful truthteller". He was a blowhard who spewed out vitriolic "free-thinking" cliches and other trite political/philosophical insights, tantamount in novelty to those of a 7th grader with a spiral notebook who just bought his first Rage Against the Machine cd.

    For example, the "today a young man on acid bla bla bla" bit that people romanticize so much as a genius line in comedy. In what way is that insightful? There's no science to support it, there's no truth to the idea that we're all a single consciousness, it's just a made up revelation that sounds cool as a means of supporting a premise to a joke about acid tripping. I wrote a poem in my freshman year of high school called "Reality is Relative", and I thought it was the deepest shit at the time. I get the feeling sometimes that Bill Hicks' main fanbase are kids or young teens in that same phase of their life.

    Of course, every time I express this opinion, his hoards of free-thinking and unique fans will just write me off as some sort of political or religious conservative who is clearly just offended by this comedy messiah's "edge". Or better yet, that I just lack the DEPTH it takes to get the jokes of Bill Hicks. But the truth is simply that so many better comedians have offered all the same insights into the human condition that Bill Hicks has, but with way more tact, subtlety, skill, and more importantly, humor.

    • Cian

      I'm rather inclined to agree. I heard nothing especially profound or intelligent in any of Hicks' routines. I did hear him repeat some of his jokes over an over though (the HBO stand up consisted entirely of material from Relentless). I really think that despite the fact that he's championed as a free thinker, many of his fans ironically do just the opposite and will shoot you down if you so much as question anything the almighty leader says.
      "Yeah Bill, you smoke, we really don't mind, keep it up if it makes you happy." "Really? Weed isn't that bad for you? I'm glad you mentioned, hearing that eleven times a day just wasn't enough. Musicians took loads of drugs? Why was this being kept such a secret? And shitty pop bands are shitty? I think this guy is some kind of prophet!"

  • BitterTruth

    If you think Bill Hicks isn't funny, you're probably just an idiot with a stupid sense of humor.

  • emekaisyourfriend

    Having watched Sane Man, One Night Stand and Relentless over the last few days, I have spent the last hour trawling the interweb looking for an opinion that corroborates my own and I have finally found it. I agree with almost everything Bill Hicks says. It is amusing insofar as it is true but I felt like I was missing something.

    Like I say, I agreed with most of what Bill had to say but what I feel like he merely pointed out the issues with a vitriol that I think did not sit with the peace and love that he talked of.

    Further, in pointing out the issues, I don't think he tells me anything I don't already know. If he really wanted to make people think, instead of telling people in marketing to go and kill themselves, he would understand what it is about the world that compels people to do these jobs in the first place and get people to think about how this consumerist system debases everybody in it, including those at the top and think about how we try and redress that.

    Don't hate the players, hate the game.

  • That guy

    I would think Bill would be offended to hear that he wasn't a comedian. He spent most of his life doing comedy and while he was insightful beyond belief that doesn't make him any less of a comedian. He is funny, more funny than pretty much any other comedian I know. He was funny because he was so truthful, and also because he was just plain good at what he did. In fact, many argue, and I know I'm not alone on this, that he was the BEST at what he did. He did it so elegantly that here you are dazed and confused as to whether he was a comedian or not. I'd say he did a fucking proper job at blurring the lines between entertainment and truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697220597 Nx Doyle

    I laughed. A lot. Still do. He was a comedian, and then some.

  • Taylor92

    I'd leave a comment about how "vitriol" is overused in these comments but if Bill were here he'd tell me it that takes more effort than leaving it the fuck alone…

  • mick

    Bill Hicks is always funny. And the times he isn't making me laugh my ass off, I still love listening to him. I don't think the guy who wrote this listened to much of his stuff…probably just youtube clips.

  • Alex Vuocolo

    What the hell are you talking about? He is a comedian, you goon.

  • Christie Nunley-Littlefield

    Wow Bill was a amazingly funny comic. Just because he added some fucking insight and made you think doesn't mean he wasn't funny. In the words of the great Bill Hicks YOU FUCKING MORON!! KILL YOURSELF! NO REALLY THERE IS NO PUNCHLINE KILL YOURSELF!

  • Unknown

    If Bill Hicks wasn't a comedian, then Elton John isn't gay! Here's your sign.