“Good evening, my name is Bill Hicks. I’ve been on the road now doing comedy 12 years, so, uh, bear with me while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit one more time. … I’m kinda tired of traveling, kinda tired of doing comedy, kinda tired of staring out at your blank faces looking back at me, wanting me to fill your empty lives with humor you couldn’t possibly think of yourselves.”
Today would have Bill Hicks’ 50th Birthday if hadn’t died age 32 from pancreatic cancer in 1994. The world is a poorer place without him. Bill, for those who don’t know was a comedian the likes of which we don’t see today. He was not a gag merchant, he was not afraid to swim against the tide of popular opinion whilst his contemporaries were all about hinting their maybe something wrong with 90’s corporate America or the Gulf War, Bill told it like it was. This brand of home-truth was new to the majority of America and effected his popularity on home shores. The British however lapped it up.
“Amazing, you’re not gonna believe this it’s true, the last show I did. Belfast, Ireland, never been to Belfast Ireland, played to 900 screaming adoring fans at a turn of the century theatre that Oscar Wilde performed in. Only to come back to America, a country I’ve toured ceaselessly for fifteen years. To play Adolf’s comedy bunker in Idaho. And find twenty five apathetic people, strangers one and all, staring at me like a dog that has just been shown a card trick.” Bill on his return to the states.
I was 14 when Bill died, and up until that point I hadn’t (like most of America) seen much of his act. But subsequently I have made up for this by watching and re-watching anything I can get my hands on that Hicks had the vaguest connection with. (Because of this I have seen everything Denis Leary did too) I wish Bill was still alive, a lot of the concerns he had and expressed so well in the late 80’s early 90’s have been proved to be more than justified. I would love to hear Bill’s thoughts on X-Factor, Glee, Apple, Afghanistan, “The War on Terror” and so many other things.
The world still needs Bill Hicks, I still need Bill Hicks. I have a printout of the “Just a Ride” speech on my desk at work. It gets me through. Thank you Bill for making my ride a little more bearable.