Fortunately it’s never too late for discovering new passions, philosophies, religions, bands… I’m glad to admit my absolute fascination by a new personal (anti-) hero, Bill Hicks, the stand-up comedian.
The influence of this outlaw, barely had any sort of impact here in Spain, due to the so shameful sound barriers. Not that I despise my mother tongue, do not misunderstand me, what I strongly criticize and disagree with, is the fact that English or any other foreign language have been considered a burden, rather than been enhanced as to extend knowledge to overseas culture. I already mentioned that yesterday, 40 years of dictatorship regime has stigmatized us forever.
See? It’s even taken me almost 34 years to get properly acquainted with this monster of spoken word. Well, perhaps there’s a valid reason for that. The conception of stand-up comedy I wrongly had, was based on Spanish performances. Once again, we are not ready for that, with the exception of Pepe Rubianes, and someone else, comedy is based on keeping on the line of well manners and non offensive humor. Thus this style has eventually turn obsolete, and the new trends, attempting to adapt the American stand-up comedy , are too forced, and failing to deliver good stuff.
Current stand-up comedians in Spain are mostly comedy actors performing following a script written by, they are acting, thus, the stories lack of nerve and naturalness, and one feature common to all these actors, whatever they do results overacted. There are some good scripts though, but the style and tendency is the same, and the stylist devices are too repetitive. I still have to check on some people I’ve been recommended anyway, hoping I’ll find someone brilliant so I’ll have to swallow my words. Of course, this is only my humble opinion…
My interest for American stand-up comedy started thanks to Eddie Murphy, Richard Prior and Andrew Dice Clay. I love that nasty kind of humor, beyond the limits of correctness and what’s socially acceptable.
I had heard of Hicks because of the band Tool. The album AEnima, which I used to listen compulsively for long time, was dedicated to the comedian. Not only that, an illustration named Another Dead Hero was included in the artwork of the special edition, and several excerpts from Dangerous and Relentless albums featured the song Third Eye.
I wasn’t mentally ready for Hicks, and took me many years to pay him proper attention, despite some strong recommendations. There’s a time for anything, and my time is now. Months ago, via Tumblr, I started to read incredible quotations completely valid in the current times we’re trying to make our living. Rough statements for tough times coming from the mouth of a comedian were something I couldn’t comprehend. A comedian? Talking about porn, religion, drugs, TV, politics and freedom of speech? WTF?
At this point I remembered that there was a biography available, American Scream The Bill Hicks Story, by Cynthia True, and thus, my quest for knowledge started.
There’s a quote in particular I feel very identified with. I’ve already told you about it:
I’m Running Out Of Time
It might not be really meaningful to you, as the passing of time is something that affects us all, regardless of gender, nationality or social status, but when you start getting acquainted with Hicks, his intense life and career, and his early death, at age 32, caused by pancreatic cancer, such statement makes complete sense and brings out some deep thinking. In my case is that I have to enjoy and approach everything coming to the max, because here today, gone tomorrow, and you can’t take things for granted.
Truth is that, his life timeline was totally atypical, characterized by a demolishing intensity, very few can equal him. He started performing at age 16, experienced with drugs, meditation, was an alcoholic to rehab afterwards…too many events and experiences, always on the road, till he couldn’t do it anymore due to the stage of his fatal illness.
Hicks was the wild side in his field, the ultimate rockstar in comedy, but because his discourse and jokes, were beyond the typical contents, although audience adored him, he suffered the terrible blow of the media censorship, especially and more painfully coming from David Letterman. I remember him telling he was full of regret regarding Hicks’ last period, feeling like he owed him not only an apology but something else.
The double moral standard in the US was something Hicks was really concerned. As he put it, if you mentioned Jesus, some Christian would raise his finger against you, regardless. He considered his audience intelligent enough as to realize what kind of manipulation US citizens are submitted too, especially by TV, but being tricked by one of his personal heroes was something that really affected Hicks. Freedom of speech resulted a total failure.
Basically, my feeling for Hicks is that he used comedy as a perfect device to awake America from this lethargy encouraged by politicians, and react against the establishment, always for a reason: people have the right to think for themselves and express their opinion. So many laws, exaggerate restrictions and law enforcement controlling absolutely everything, cannot be tolerated. At the end of the day, he was a thinker and a critic.
Most likely if he hadn’t passed away so early, he’d have led some kind of reactionary movement, as people were starting to pay attention. Hicks’ legacy, quite extense, thanks to live performances recorded, spoken word albums such as Relentless, Dangerous or Rant in E-Minor, TV guest appearances, documentaries….is still valid. The comedian struggled to reach as many citizens as possible, so they could discover the truth and act consequently. It is now your time, to see if what he said, suits you or not.