The Joker's Wild
It's been ten years since comedian Bill Hicks died. Today, at Flak magazine, Dennis Perrin -- author of Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue -- recalls Hicks's work.
When Bill Hicks took a nightclub stage, it became occupied territory. He'd stalk across it, stop, flash a sharp glance at the audience, light a cigarette, run a hand through his hair, stalk a bit more, all the while telling the crowd how worthless they were, how weary he was ("Excuse me while I plaster on a fake smile and plow through this shit one more time," he was fond of saying), that he didn't know or care what town he was in, that he was quitting comedy altogether. Then, without warning, Hicks would launch into the first of countless observations, bam bam bam, and if you didn't keep pace, your fucking loss.
Bill Hicks, who died 10 years ago today, was the finest comedian of his generation, easily in the same league as Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. Like them, he demolished the standard "Didya ever notice... ?" approach so beloved by stand-ups groveling for sitcoms, talk shows and bit parts in films. Hicks had no time for that. He hated the use of comedy for commercial enhancement, savaging such shills as Jay Leno for urging "bovine America" to cram more Doritos down its fat throat. He regularly pleaded with ad and marketing people to kill themselves for the good of the species.