Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution."


William Melvin "Bill" Hicks (1961 ~ 1994) was, in my not-so-humble opinion, the greatest comedian of all time. One of my best friends introduced me to Hicks on the day we met and I've been hooked ever since. Hicks passed away 15 years ago today after battling pancreatic cancer, so in the grand tradition of Off-Topic Tuesday Thursday I'm going to share some of my favorite Hicks material with you.

First, here's a little background: Hicks (who liked to call himself "Noam Chomsky with dick jokes") was born in Valdosta, Georgia on December 16th, 1961 and moved to Houston when he was seven years old. He appeared on Letterman a total of twelve times; his last appearance on the show (October 1st,1993) was cut from the show-- the only time a comic's entire routine was deleted after taping. On January 30th, 2009, David Letterman not only interviewed Hick's mother (Mary Reese Hicks) on his show, but aired Hick's banned comedy segment from fifteen years earlier. Hicks fans all over the globe just about shrieked with glee. You can view the interview here, here, and here. It's epic on many levels, and Mrs. Hicks is quite funny herself.

Now: "Let's do some comedy. I always like to add some comedy to my show." (Rant in E-Minor) Here we go:

From Arizona Bay (1992; possibly my all-time favorite Hicks album):
- "Boy, I love talkin' about the Kennedy Assassination, man. That's my favorite
topic. You know why? . . . Because for me it's a great archetypal example of how the totalitarian government who rules this planet partitions out information in such a way that we, the masses, are forced to base our conclusions on erroneous-
Oh, I'm sorry, wrong meeting. I thought this was the meeting uh . . . at the docks, no? Oh, shit. That's tomorrow night...."
"... everyone followed that, that's the frightening fuckin' thing! God damn it, are we that fucking cynical? 'Yes, we are. We can take any blow you give us, GO! We, too, will be at the meeting at the docks, you fucker!'"
- "I saw footage over there [in London] of the Rodney King trial. I think I figured out why the L.A. riots occurred. Did you guys see these cops testifyin', man? Did these guys have balls, or what, man? These guys carry their balls in a wheelbarrow, man. . . . And I watch all the news reports, you know.
'Today Officer Coon, Officer Nigger Hater and Officer Keep Darkie Down were acquitted on all racist charges. Here's Tom with the weather.'
'Hi, Susie, it's 420 degrees Fahrenheit here in South Central L.A. right now. Probably a good time to get outta the fuckin' city, Susie. There's a gust of lead coming up Sunset.'"
- Another great thing about Hicks is that he was so far ahead of his time-- and even though most of his material is at least 15-20 years old, it could very well be relevant today. On the night of the election, I listened to this...and even though it was recorded in 1991, it perfectly described how every far-lefter in America was feeling on that night in 2008. Likewise, I often joke that I'm overjoyed that Obama is in the White House, yet I'm not used to having a president who isn't automatic joke fodder...and then, just today, I found this. I originally wanted to link it for "George Bush is gone, and along with him.....half of my fuckin' act;" but keep listening: it can easily describe America's political situation between November 2008 and...well... this afternoon. IT'S AWESOME.

From Rant in E-Minor (also 1992; my second favorite):
- "Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to No Sympathy Night. Welcome to You're Wrong Night."
- Billy Ray Cyrus was popular at the time this was recored; today Hannah Montana is at the top of the pop scene. Thus, this still feels entirely relevant.
- "I was over in Australia during Easter, which was interesting. Interesting to note they celebrate Easter the same way we do, commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus . . . by telling our children a giant bunny rabbit . . . left chocolate eggs in the night. I wonder why we're fucked up as a race."
- "'We're pro-life.'" 'Gee, you look it.' 'We're pro-life.' 'God, I wanna hang with you and PLAY TWISTER!'"

- Then comes the kicker: Say the alphabet — backwards. 'Well, shoot, you got me. I'm not drunk, but I'm obviously too stupid to be driving, God damn it.' This appears on Sane Man ('89) and in Love, Laughter, and Truth; you can hear the full skit here, and IT RULES (I've made many of my dancer buddies listen to this, and all of them have laughedvery hard ).
- "'God put [dinosaur fossils] here to test our faith!'... I think God put you here to test my faith, dude. Does that bother anybody else, the idea that GOD might be fucking with our heads? I have trouble sleeping with that knowledge." (Revelations, '93)
- Possibly my all-time favorite: "There are dick jokes on the way, ladies and gentleman, please relax...Here's the deal: I editorialize for 40 minutes, the last 10 minutes, we pull our 'chutes and float down to Dick Joke Island together, okay? And we will rest our weary heads against the thick-veined trunks of dick jokes while we sit in our cushy bean-bag scrotum chairs and giggle away the dawn like any good American comedy-club audiences."

I could go on for DAYS, but this post is already quite lengthy and my butt needs to get to the studio. I'll leave you with this: Hick's last words on the Rant In E- Minor are a prayer...and when I found out that Rant happened to be the last album he recorded, I now cry every time I listen to this. Here it is, your moment of Zen for today (and here's more, if you want it):
"Oh my God! Lift me up out of this illusion, Lord. Heal my perception that I may know only reality and only you . . .”

Rest in peace, Bill. We love you. Have yourself a damn spiffy eternity.

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