BILL HICKS, AN AMERICAN HERO

Something that caught my eye recently when flicking through the listings guides was not one, but two, events commemorating one of the greatest comedians of all-time, Bill Hicks.

If you know about Bill Hicks, no doubt you will have already opened up a new window to find youtube clips of him.

If you don’t know about Bill Hicks, google him. It will be the best thing you do today.

I first found out about Bill Hicks during the summer of 2002, purely by fluke.

I was sitting at home, channel hopping in the hope of finding something good. I clicked onto the Paramount Comedy channel, thinking that, as I like comedy, I might see something I like.

The show just starting was ‘Bill Hicks : One Night Stand’. I’d never heard of him, but I thought i’d give it a try. By the time the first ad break came, I was in stitches, trying to store his one-liners in my memory bank, so that I could shamelessly steal and use them at an appropriate moment.

I was instantly in love with his sense of humour. As soon as possible, I went to HMV in the City Centre. I knew they had a section for audio CDs, so I thought i’d give it a try. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw all of his CDs for £5. I bought three of them, took them home and gave them a listen.

And what a decision it was, laugh after laugh, and one-liner after one-liner.

By this point, it was now my hope and dream that he would do a date in Belfast. That night, I logged onto the internet to find out more about him.

After typing ‘Bill Hicks’ into google, I reached his official website, then it just hit me, like a kick in the you know wheres.

I got to the homepage, and it said ‘WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF BILL HICKS, 1961-1994’. Gutted. The comedian I had just found out about, whose routines I fell in love with, and whose live show I wanted to see, had been dead for 8 years. Just gutted.

I consoled myself with the fact that I had a collection of CDs which Bill had recorded, that I could listen to. The best thing about Bill Hicks was that you didn’t know which direction the routine would go. One minute, he is talking of going on a killing spree, taking out Debbie Gibson, NKOTB and Kenny Rodgers, then joking about starting a career as a children’s entertainer called ‘Beelzebozo’, before sharing us his thoughts on American politics.

For those who know about Bill Hicks, the name Dwight Slade will be familiar. Slade was the best friend of Bill Hicks and a funny comedian in his own right. I saw him perform live in 2003. Very funny indeed.

You can’t help but think what sort of jokes Hicks would have come up with in the 15 years since his death, especially with Bill Clinton’s tomfoolery with Monica Lewinsky and George W Bush, being …….., George W Bush.

Many comedians have done funny jokes about such subject matters, but Hicks would have blown them away. The tragedy is, we never got a chance to hear it.

Hicks was a smoker, and proud of it. One of his famous lines was “I’d quit smoking if I didn’t think i’d become a non-smoker”. A man with his stored-up rage having his favourite pastime taken away from him by legislation would have been comic gold.

No point moping about what we didn’t get to hear, but rather celebrate what we did get to hear.

Looking forward to the showing of one of his live performances as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and the screening of The Bill Hicks Story, at the QFT

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