American- The Bill Hicks Story

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When I was twenty four and in my first year of university, a tall lanky friend of my rootmate Juma stopped by our apartment and dropped off a comedy CD on our coffee table and said in no uncertain terms, "you gotta hear this guy Bill Hicks". That CD was Rant in E Minor, and that friend was fellow Beams writer TJ Dawe. 

The Bill Hicks (1961-1994) suggestion proved to be a potent one, as he quickly became a central influence on myself and many others around me. Like George Carlin (esp. late career Carlin), Hicks is as much social philosopher as he is comedian. I hold a place pretty close to my heart for Hicks, and am pleased to hear that his unique voice will get another round/level of exposure with the new documentary about his life. For those unfamiliar with Hicks, a word of warning that he's not always the easiest comedian to listen to; but that was kind of the point. Bill Hicks was out to prod and stir and spur, and his comedy crosses many a line in that pursuit. He's also really funny too. Here's the trailer for American: The Bill Hicks Story-


And just for good measure, here's a sampling of Bill Hicks in live peformance on the topic of drugs (there's plenty more videos on youtube). This clip definitely fits the 'not suitable for work' category!

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  • Comment Link Jeremy Johnson Wednesday, 13 April 2011 00:34 posted by Jeremy Johnson

    Thanks for posting this. Hicks is one of the most endearing comedians for me, because of how much he put his heart and soul into his playful bardic work. Great to see he is getting some appreciation!

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Thursday, 14 April 2011 20:05 posted by TJ Dawe

    Something I might write about some day (or you're welcome to run with this, Trevor, if you'd like) is my guess that Hicks was an Enneagram Type Seven.

    He went through every substance there is to the point of overload, going cold turkey on everything at 26. He was also a massive consumer of porn, and smoked fiendishly.

    He was a quick learner, starting stand-up at 16 and headlining, doing 45 minute sets before he was even in his twenties. He was also an excellent baseball player, and had the opportunity to play at a college level. He played guitar decently well. Supposedly he was very good and picking up new skills and becoming proficient at them in a short amount of time.

    He also showed the pattern of Seven going to One under stress, becoming dogmatic and judgmental as his career went on and he saw American culture stooping lower and lower, despite all of his efforts to be a voice of intelligence and clarity. His routines sometimes him calling for the deaths of people he saw as the enemy.

    He was able to integrate his experiences on psychedelics into his philosophy and comedy, preaching a message of compassion and universal affinity between all beings. He had a strong sense of idealism, something Sr. Chela (another Seven) once described as an essential component of that type.

    It's a shame he died. If he were still around I'm sure whatever he'd be doing would make Bill Maher look like Tim Allen.

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