Earlier this year it was announced that Russell ‘Rusty’ Crowe would be directing a film based on the life of Bill Hicks. For fans of the underappreciated (at least in the mainstream) comedian it generated a colossal ‘wahoo!’ Finally we would get to see a dramatisation on one of the greatest comedians to ever grace the stage. For most people though the news brought up one question: ‘Who in the heck is Bill Hicks?’
Born in 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia, he is considered one of the most important modern comedians. Growing up in a conservative family, at 13 Hicks began sneaking out at night to perform stand-up comedy at a local bar with a schoolmate. He went on to have an interesting career: he battled alcohol addiction and found the mainstream success he could never garner in his home country in the UK where he sold out major theatres.
Hicks’ comedy was a blend of social-commentary and political rants, covering everything from advertising to the right wing agenda. He pushed the envelope in terms of expressing philosophical beliefs inside a piece of entertainment, a piece of theatre. He was the first comedian ever censored on the Late Show with David Letterman and is commonly referred to as the comedian’s favourite comedian.
At just 32 Hicks died of liver and pancreatic cancer. He left behind a legacy of some of the most intelligent, thought-provoking and downright hilarious jokes ever recorded. He has gone on to become a cult figure and is no doubt someone Crowe is looking forward to bringing to a wider audience. Our money is on Crowe also being cast in the lead and undergoing a physical transformation that could bring him to the attention of Academy voters. In the meantime, to get familiar with the work of the brilliant Hicks, here are his top 10 jokes.
1. Bill Hicks on British crime
2. Bill Hicks on Ted Bundy
3. Bill Hicks on the war on drugs
“I loved when Bush came out and said, “We are losing the war against drugs.” You know what that implies? There’s a war being fought, and the people on drugs are winning it.”
4. Bill Hicks on abortion and Christian pro-life parents
5. Bills Hicks on gays in the military
6. Bill Hicks on Iraq
“People say, “Uh-Uh, Bill, Iraq had the fourth-largest army in the world.” Yeah, well, maybe, but, you know what? After the first three largest armies there’s a really big fucking drop-off, okay? The Hare Krishnas are the fifth largest army in the world, and they’ve already got all our airports. So, who is the bigger threat?”
7. Bill Hicks on the Rodney King trial
8. Bill Hicks on the Kennedy assassination and Creationism
9. Bill Hicks on marketing
10. Bill Hicks on relationships
“But you know, it’s hard to have a relationship in this business man. It’s gonna take a very special woman . . . or a bunch of average ones.”
Maria Lewis – follow Maria on Twitter here: @moviemazz