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Bill Hicks Tribute
February 16, 2004 6:58 PM   Subscribe

A very good tribute from the Guardian regarding the life and legacy of philosopher-comedian Bill Hicks.

It is compelling and significant that the final words on Hicks's last record, Rant In E-Minor, are a prayer: "Lift me up out of this illusion, Lord. Heal my perception, so that I may know only reality."
posted by moonbird (93 comments total)

 
Good read! I wish Bill were around, I'd love to hear his take on Dubya-- though his Bush the Elder rants are still apropos.

"Terrible weapons. Horrible."
"Well, how do you know?"

"We checked the receipt. As soon as that check clears, we're going in!"

posted by keswick at 7:09 PM on February 16, 2004


I heard about Hicks after seeing so many Hicks quotes ins assorted signature files. I snarfed a metric assload of files from #{some_evil_p2p_app} and was quite pleased.

But, often, he comes off as a demented Andy Rooney (yes, that's possibly redundant), full of piss and vinegar but without any real insight.

I haven't listen to him in a while, so maybe I'll go dig up the MP3 CD and give it another listen. Beats most of the shit now showing on Comedy Central
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:12 PM on February 16, 2004



But, often, he comes off as a demented Andy Rooney (yes, that's possibly redundant), full of piss and vinegar but without any real insight.


He also comes across as more smug than funny. No matter what his fans might say about how "challenging" he is, he was really more about congratulating himself and his audience on how right thinking and cool they were. In short he was preaching to the choir. Yawn.
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on February 16, 2004


...And this is different from MeFi how?
posted by keswick at 7:47 PM on February 16, 2004


And this is different from MeFi how?

You had to pay to see Hicks perform. We perform for free.
posted by kindall at 7:49 PM on February 16, 2004


...and I'm better looking.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on February 16, 2004


so what was the letterman deal?
posted by damnitkage at 8:01 PM on February 16, 2004


He was edited out of the show.
posted by dabitch at 8:03 PM on February 16, 2004


Well, at least we have Denis Leary carrying on Bill's work.
posted by TedW at 8:05 PM on February 16, 2004


Here's another article, also by John Lahr (author of the Guardian piece linked above), with extended quotes from the performance that was cut from the Letterman show.
posted by Zonker at 8:15 PM on February 16, 2004


Go back and listen to Rant in E Minor again.

There was no one talking then about where "it" was all headed and Hicks did it in insightful fashion. And then he was gone. And it all came out like he said it would.

Rampant commercialism, Reality TV, The Iraq mess. That was pretty remarkable talent insight.

Everything is snarkbait on Mefi.
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:17 PM on February 16, 2004


argh, what is the name of that radio talk show host that interviews naked ladies and has a female side-kick? Anyway, Bill Hicks was on his show (call-in) the day after the Letterman and you can find that interview on them evil p2p networks. Stern? Howard?
posted by dabitch at 8:26 PM on February 16, 2004


That was very moving. Bill Hicks is one of many people or subjects of which or whom I'd never heard before I joined MetaFilter.

*I take it jonmc didn't bother to read the link before he hit the keyboard.
posted by y2karl at 8:33 PM on February 16, 2004


I gain more respect for Hicks the more I listen to his stuff, particularly the bootlegs. That said, he did suck pretty bad sometimes. But then again, we all do.

jonmc, you're utterly wrong about Hicks. But that's in line your frequent repetition of how little respect you have for anyone who actually believes anything with any degree of passion, and speaks of those beliefs. One things Hicks most certainly did was loathe stupidity and complacence, and one thing he most certainly didn't do was to 'congratulate himself and his audience on how right thinking and cool they were'. Your assertion is so laughably wrong as to lead me to think you're talking about someone else entirely.

Hicks hated, with, ironically, not enough humour to effectively leaven that hate, and that's what killed him, perhaps.

Dennis Leary is a speck of fly shit by comparison, I must say. Occasionally amusing, but nowhere near in the same league.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:45 PM on February 16, 2004


dabitch, that Howard Stern/Bill Hicks interview is at Dark Times. Says the clips are down, but they seem to be downloading fine.
posted by luminol at 9:00 PM on February 16, 2004


Question for someone who knows better -- I have only had the opportunity to hear "Arizona Bay." Do all of his albums devolve into shitty country-rock interludes right when he starts to really get going?
posted by britain at 9:00 PM on February 16, 2004


jonmc, you're utterly wrong about Hicks. But that's in line your frequent repetition of how little respect you have for anyone who actually believes anything with any degree of passion, and speaks of those beliefs.

Please. I read the article and I've heard his routines. He may have rattled the cages of some conservatives, but I doubt they'd be in attendance at any of his shows. So what was he doing then? Spewing tired cliches and rhetoric, and I might add not being funny, which is what we pay comedians for; stow the polemics and make with the laff-laff, Bill. And besides, people may not want to hear it, but ideologues, "spokespeople," self-proclaimed artists and most of all philosophers of any ideological stripe are all useless blowhards.

Your assertion is so laughably wrong as to lead me to think you're talking about someone else entirely.

Hey I've heard Hick's stuff and that's what I get out of it. Sounds more like your just upset that I don't dig someone who you (and many other mefites) do. And I said so. That's challenging complacency. Otherwise this read would be a lotta "wasn't Bill Hicks the all-knowing messiah?" I hate that hero-worship bullshit, no matter who's being worshipped.
posted by jonmc at 9:32 PM on February 16, 2004


Bill was funny. YMMV.

And nihilism is a philosophy, too, Jon.
posted by Vidiot at 9:38 PM on February 16, 2004


Stav, you're golden. I remember watching both Denis Leary and Bill Hicks back in 1990 and liking them both for certain reasons. Leary always sort of struck me as the thinking man's Andrew Dice Clay. As time wore on he just got so utterly fucking unfunny. Seeing him on talk shows was just a major disappointment because he had lost his edge. Listening to Bill Hicks now, talking about Iraq, it's almost eerie how dead on he was.

Jon. If you ever heard his gym-sock routine maybe you'd have a change of heart?

And Britain, no, they do not. I never liked that either. Thank god for the fast forward button.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:39 PM on February 16, 2004


I don't dig him that much. I've dissed him here before. But your take on him is truly bizarre, I reckon. If that's your considered opinion, well, okey-doke, but it's got me scratching my head.

I don't actually think, particularly when he was bellowing at the crowd about how much he loathed them (don't know if any of that made it to his albums), that he was a comedian at all, really. He was a wounded beast. He was angry, and he despised the lowing herd of morons he saw around him, whether or not he was right to do so. That's got nothing to do with the kind of thing you're talking about : ideology, group-belonging, spokespeople for belief systems. He wasn't political, he was consumed with resentment at how worthless and stupid so much of being human has become in this glorious modern world. Although at the end of his life he tried to recross bridges he'd burned, apparently, and good on him for trying, he invented himself as someone who was at the other end of the spectrum entirely from those you condemn as 'useless blowhards'.

Still, just my opinion. And you're entitled to yours. But you're still wrong. Heh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:41 PM on February 16, 2004 [1 favorite]


Er, on preview, that last's a response to what jon was saying...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:42 PM on February 16, 2004


And nihilism is a philosophy, too, Jon.

You know me well enough to know that I'm only nihilistic when it comes to politics and culture, vidiot. Well, that and that supposed "gourmet cheese counter" we were at the other night. I mean where the fuck was the velveeta?

he invented himself as someone who was at the other end of the spectrum entirely from those you condemn as 'useless blowhards'....He wasn't political, he was consumed with resentment at how worthless and stupid so much of being human has become in this glorious modern world.

He liked to think he was. But he positioned him self as someone superior to the "worthless and stupid" human race, which puts him directly in the blowhard category to me. See what I mean by "congratulating himself" now?
posted by jonmc at 9:45 PM on February 16, 2004


Further, 'cause now I'm on a caffeine-fueled jag, I note that a lot of great and not-so-great comic are fueled by rage as by ha-ha that's funny.

Hicks, or Lenny Bruce or George Carlin for example. Both Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinnison, both of whom I loathed, were all about rage and hatred, although in their cases it was directed at women, mostly. Or self-directed, in some involuted fear of their own natures, maybe. They flamed out, consumed by their own anger - their 'comedy' couldn't transcend the rage. Carlin, after he quit smoking so much dope and post-7-words, was also angry - furiously angry at the hypocrisy he saw all around him, but even as he was shouting 'fuck you', he had a love for people that sustained him, a good hear that tempered the anger and made it something pure and powerful. I love Carlin. Even Dennis Leary, weak as his schtick has become, presents hmiself as an angry man. I like him mostly because of his story about his father dying, during the 'No Cure For Cancer' show, I think it was, which may have been contrived, but felt real enough to me. We never got the chance to see if Hicks' rage would have consumed him, or if he could have mastered it and turned it into art.

Sure, here are comics, great ones even, who aren't so clearly angry - Robin Williams? Cosby when he was on song? - but it's often enough true to be worth thinking about. It's probably also obvious and trite to note it, too. But I think dismissing Hicks as some kind of groupthink extremist misses a point both about him and about what it is for all of us to live lives as true as possible to the things we believe. Angry, or not.

For what it's worth.

On preview : one person's blowhard is another person's saint. Love or hate, someone's gonna hate you for what you say, if you say what you truly believe. That Jesus guy was one heck of a blowhard too†.

not saying Hicks was a saint. Just reductio ad absurduming a bit...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:01 PM on February 16, 2004


C'mon Jon. We all took the whole Gallagher not performing thing pretty hard but this is no way to take it out.

Just kidding!

I see your point. What would be a good example of a comedian who didn't position himself as a blowhard or superior to the rest of the world?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:02 PM on February 16, 2004


(Sorry about all the typos...off to class in a few minutes, and that was a bit rushed.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:03 PM on February 16, 2004


Further, 'cause now I'm on a caffeine-fueled jag, I note that a lot of great and not-so-great comic are fueled by rage as by ha-ha that's funny.

Agreed, but even if you're angry, job #1 for a comic is still to be funny and I just didn't find Hicks funny, and without the humor, hearing someone rant is just hearing somone lecture and that's like being forced to sit in the principal's office, Or if you happen to agree with what the person is saying, you get a warm feeling or whatever, but there's that "preaching to the choir," again.

Hicks, or Lenny Bruce or George Carlin for example. Both Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Kinnison, both of whom I loathed, were all about rage and hatred, although in their cases it was directed at women, mostly.

Lenny Bruce and Carlin were brilliant and mocked the pieties of everyone mercilessly and also made you belly laugh while doing it. To me the mark of a great comic is if he makes you laugh even if you violently disagree with what he says. That inner conflict may make you squirm a bit but that can be productive.

Clay was basically moderately amusing 8th grade toilet humor, but Kinison could be brilliant and side-splitting as well. Yeah, he had some ugly feelings about women and minorities but those ugly feelings like it or not are a part of life and they are in all of us. To deny and repress them is far more dangerous than to reduce them to something laughable in my opinion. And you forgot to mention Richard Pryor, who reduces all four of the aforementioned comics and Hicks to dwarf size.
posted by jonmc at 10:14 PM on February 16, 2004


Pryor, sure. Angry as hell. Although I don't agree with the dwarfing thing, exactly, that can be chalked up to taste, perhaps.

I would like to compare and contrast this that you said of Hicks, though, jon "he positioned himself as someone superior to the "worthless and stupid" human race" with what I said "he was consumed with resentment at how worthless and stupid so much of being human has become".

It may be pedantry, but I think there's a world of difference in meaning and implication between those phrases, and, taste aside, I think the gap between the two descriptions is where the core of our disagreement about Hicks (and many other things) lies.

Raging against the wrongs of the world does not imply that one necessrily puts oneself above them, or either the people who commit them or suffer them. Forgive me, but you seem to assume that this is the case, and that's not inevitably so.

It's a fool's game to be angry at humanity without remembering that you're human too, and neck deep in the filth with everyone else.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:32 PM on February 16, 2004


...and that's not inevitably so.

To be clear, I meant to say I believe that that's not inevitably so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:33 PM on February 16, 2004


Raging against the wrongs of the world does not imply that one necessrily puts oneself above them, or either the people who commit them or suffer them.

Hear, hear.

Jesus, jon, this someone superior to the "worthless and stupid" human race is a constant theme with you. You know, you're not the only person here who didn't finish college. I didn't. And I don't have a continent sized anti-intellectual chip on my shoulder about it, either.

Sounds more like your just upset that I don't dig someone who you (and many other mefites) do. And I said so. That's challenging complacency. Otherwise this read would be a lotta "wasn't Bill Hicks the all-knowing messiah?" I hate that hero-worship bullshit, no matter who's being worshipped.

I, myself, dislike people who drop turds in the punchbowl and then turn a thread into a referendum on their "superior" taste.

And besides, people may not want to hear it, but ideologues, "spokespeople," self-proclaimed artists and most of all philosophers of any ideological stripe are all useless blowhards.

Yeah, well, carbonized cooking utensil meet carbonized cooking utensil on that one here, pal.
posted by y2karl at 10:57 PM on February 16, 2004


Jon, count me as another person who thinks you've misheard what Hicks was talking about. What I've always heard when listening to his albums was someone who was incredibly perceptive and hopeful, but extremely frustrated with, above all, hypocrisy and lies. He insulted people in order to help other people get their heads out of their asses. As someone said up there, your mileage may vary, but I do urge a reconsideration.

He may have rattled the cages of some conservatives, but I doubt they'd be in attendance at any of his shows.

This much, at least, is demonstrably false. Remember, he was a comedian for more than a decade, and was only moderately famous for a couple years. Most of his fame was posthumous. For the vast majority of his career he played small comedy clubs on regular circuits. I forget which on which album he refers to his "UFO Tour" of small towns in the south. Certainly, he didn't play to a stacked audience, probably more like a hostile audience most of the time.
posted by Hildago at 11:31 PM on February 16, 2004


guys, jon doesn't like it. Let him, ignore and move on.

Thanks for refreshing my memory luminol, I got the interview.. I got possibly every recording Bill ever made.. ;) Bought every CD I could find to a level of getting 'different prints', videos, bootlegs and more. Still can't get enough. The porn rant in vegas at the porn-oscars nearly kills me. ANd yes, his Bush Sr rants are eerie today.
posted by dabitch at 2:37 AM on February 17, 2004


I guess then, that this choir is the only one I've ever been in. And Reverend Hicks is my shepherd. Or some biblical words.

For anyone interested, Sacred Cow are helping to organize tribute events on Feb 26th (the 10-year anniversary of Hicks' passing). And for anyone who has never heard of him, you can check out video and audio clips on that same site (most probably NSFW).
posted by Rattmouth at 4:22 AM on February 17, 2004


I guess then, that this choir is the only one I've ever been in. And Reverend Hicks is my shepherd.


comedian hailed as prophet by fans - film at eleven.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:00 AM on February 17, 2004


I can't stand stand-up. Hicks is one of very few comedians I've ever enjoyed. His anger just sounded cooler than other people's anger, and that's good enough for me. (Much the same goes for Pryor).
posted by liam at 6:23 AM on February 17, 2004


Also, anybody going to SXSW Interactive: there's a panel on "The Life and Times of Bill Hicks", featuring Cynthia True, author of American Scream, and Bruce Hills, COO of the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival.

And jon: preaching to the choir? Only in Chicago, New York, Austin, or Houston. Everywhere else, Hicks was the third nobody without a sitcom on the bill at the Laff Hut down the strip mall, playing a week in the hinterlands for the greater part of his career. The guy played to everybody. The confrontational aspects of his comedy may have rubbed you the wrong way, but there's some real love for humanity behind the vitriol. Hicks' ultimate goal was the evolution of humanity, spiritually and physically.

That and dick jokes.
posted by shecky57 at 6:26 AM on February 17, 2004


I, myself, dislike people who drop turds in the punchbowl and then turn a thread into a referendum on their "superior" taste.... You know, you're not the only person here who didn't finish college. I didn't. And I don't have a continent sized anti-intellectual chip on my shoulder about it, either.

Sometimes the punchbowl could use a few turds, if for no other reason than to have a dissenting opinion. And just for the record it wasn't Hick's views or his intellectualism that turned me off, I just found his delivery grating. It was like being trapped in an elevator with an insufferable know-it-all, which is a demonstrably different thing than an intellectual. Again, YMMV.

And y2karl, when I want you to pyschoanalyze me, I'll have my insurance company call you, OK?

The confrontational aspects of his comedy may have rubbed you the wrong way, but there's some real love for humanity behind the vitriol. Hicks' ultimate goal was the evolution of humanity, spiritually and physically.

and shecky, I have no problem with confrontational humor; like I said, I love Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Sam Kinison and others who make Hicks look like a meek choirboy. He just didn't make me laugh, he merely annoyed.
posted by jonmc at 6:42 AM on February 17, 2004


Okay, jonmc, I think you got your point across that you don't like Hicks. Will you please let the rest of us talk about Hicks and enjoy ourselves now?

I think my favorite bit was when he told all marketing and salespeople in the audience to do us all a favor and kill themselves.
posted by beth at 6:52 AM on February 17, 2004


I am talking about Hicks, Beth. Is there some new MeFi bylaw that we can only flatter celebrities that Mefites like> Many people have expressed that Hicks didn't get the success he was due. I'm offering my explanation. And smug, self-satisfied lines like the one you quoted are the epitome of why.

I mean, hell, I was a sales person, my dad is a salesperson. I don't know who the hell Hicks thought was selling his records, Benedictine monks? But hey, we don't meet St. Bill's test of ideological purity, but maybe we thought paying the rent was a higher priority. Lotta "love for humanity" in that joke, huh? Smug self-rigteous little rubberneck.
posted by jonmc at 7:03 AM on February 17, 2004


How many times and in how many different ways do you need to express and discuss your disgust for Hicks? This thread has turned into "jonmc vs. the Hicks-admirers".

We get it, you don't like him. Message received. I'm not suggesting that differences of opinion aren't welcome on mefi - clearly they are. But at what point does expressing your dislike of the topic of a thread turn into shitting on the thead? After six comments? Sixteen? Sixty?

Do you really need to assail him and his style of comedy each and every time one of us mentions something we admired about Hicks?
posted by beth at 7:22 AM on February 17, 2004


yes , admire hicks all you want , please dont talk like him though.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:34 AM on February 17, 2004


I knew Bill, and he was one of the grooviest people, on and off the stage. I saw a lot of his live performances, and he really was fighting the audience, a whole lot of the time. There was a great resistance to what he said, and there were times when he would just jump right across the line of good taste...believing that there must be something he could do to snap people out of the soma induced complacency of consumerism.

Bill wanted people to think. He didn't care if people agreed with him...what he wanted was the neurons firing in people's heads...he was, for all intents and purposes, a blunt instrument trying to be a neural hacker. His capacity for memetics was astounding.

You don't have to like Bill's routines, that's fine...most people don't. He wouldn't have cared, and neither, really, do I. I do care that he's gone. I wish that he were around to give us his take on where we find ourselves now. He was charming, and friendly, and wonderful to talk to...and I wish everyone who likes his material had had a chance to experience the raw energy of watching him do his act.
posted by dejah420 at 8:11 AM on February 17, 2004 [1 favorite]


sgt: no worries, I won't. Else I'd have to ask my colleagues to kill themselves every day. Oh wait.. I do... drats.
posted by dabitch at 8:11 AM on February 17, 2004


Sorry to get in on this so late, but I have to support jonmc on this. Hicks was an ordinary comic, about on the level of Carrot Top and Gallagher, whose gimmick was left-wing preaching, and reinforcing his audience's political prejudices. In a lifetime of reading and mostly enjoying left-wing rants, I never found Hicks' to be particularly clever or original or any better than what you could hear from your friends. He was ordinary, with the ordinary mind of his generation. His "truth" is are the same tired, ritualistic anti-establishment cliches we've been hearing for the past 100 years. What you people need to do is go out and buy Lenny Bruce recordings. You'll make an amazing discovery. Lenny Bruce also sucked. One minute of Sam Kinison's inspired mania, Richard Pryor's brilliant "rambling", or Jay Leno's solid professionalism is worth the entire life's work of Hicks and Bruce combined.
posted by Faze at 8:11 AM on February 17, 2004


Oh, you're Jay Leno man. That explains everything.

Say, isn't Joey Lawrence going to be on Leno next week?
posted by keswick at 8:41 AM on February 17, 2004


hehehe...
posted by dabitch at 8:53 AM on February 17, 2004


Oooh, what a zinger, keswick. The mefi hipsters don't think Faze is cool enough for them. I'll bet he loses tons of sleep.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 AM on February 17, 2004


That was a Bill Hicks joke that Keswick just said. FYI, jonmc. I get it, you don't fancy Hicks. That's okay.
posted by dabitch at 8:57 AM on February 17, 2004


theres a whole lotta love in this room......i'm coming over to the other side of the argument now , dabitch might let me snuggle up to her , i'm SO shallow .

I love you, bill hicks.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2004


Actually, I am a Leno man. Leno is a genuine outsider. A working-class kid from Boston (like the characters in "Mystic River") with a thick New England accent (most of which is gone now). You would have had to have known him when he was young to realize how utterly out of left field he comes, how he was possibly the most unlikely person you would ever expect to achieve success as a stand up -- much less take over the tonight show. Unlike some radical crybaby, Leno went out and got the gigs, from the earliest age, working the Combat Zone, the Elks' Clubs -- all at a time when stand up was virtually dead in America, and all his friends who were in rock bands were razzing him for wanting to join Shecky, Henny and Jackie in in Catskill land. To this day, Leno plays towns and places you and I wouldn't even get out of the car to pee in. And the high irony of it all is that this interesting, unusual man (look into the rest of his professional biography) is dismissed as an "establishment" comic, while Hicks, who has coasted his whole career on the backs of a political cohort, and who can blame all his career failures on the fact that he's too "out there" and radical and "dangerous" for the masses, rather than the fact that he's just so-so funny, is lionized for his "bravery." You want to know brave, you go do a set in a strip club in the Combat Zone, circa 1973, or work as hard and consistently as Leno has done all his life, with no safety net, and nothing to fall back upon but his own talent, belief in himself, and determination to succeed.
posted by Faze at 9:40 AM on February 17, 2004


Yeah, too bad he isn't that funny.

Geez, airline food sure is bad! Criminals sure are dumb!
posted by Vidiot at 9:58 AM on February 17, 2004


As opposed to:

Golly, the president's dumb! Look at those idiot zombies shopping at the mall! Dumb rednecks! Christians are stupid & uptight!

Different audience, but the same approach.
posted by jonmc at 10:03 AM on February 17, 2004


But at what point does expressing your dislike of the topic of a thread turn into shitting on the thread?

Which is what got my goat. Someone comes in a thread to trash the object of attention with great vehemence, then when called on over the top harshness of it, comes back to trash and retrash, each time harsher and harsher. More callouts ensue. The trashing then proceeds from the object of attention to those--the popular kids, the big phonies, the mindless herd, the intalleckshuls, the mefi hipsters--paying the attention. Then later they play poor misunderstood rebel me and can't understand what got everyone so upset.

When the ego gets involved, sheep turn into wolves and wolves into werewolves.

How glorious it is and also how painful to be an exception!
posted by y2karl at 10:08 AM on February 17, 2004


Hey, y2karl, I'll let the grade school taunting slide. But I don't think my thrashing was that over the top at all. I criticized Hicks and everyone acted like I just kicked their pet puppy, which (along with the fact that he's constantly quoted and lionized around here) tells me that some people consider him some kinda untouchable oatron saint. Well, get over it. Besides, anybody put up on that kinda pedestal needs to be knocked down a peg. If you don't like that, that's your problem.
posted by jonmc at 10:15 AM on February 17, 2004


Yeah, Bill has been coasting for the past eleven years, that lazy fucker.
posted by keswick at 10:32 AM on February 17, 2004


Hicks himself, I don't find that funny per se--but, as stavro noted he had his moments. I just don't care for endless tone deaf obligatos of derision. Faze is a past master of this--I was disappointed in seeing you, jonmc, at it. You at least go to the bother of making posts about what you like and can at least imagine what it's like to have some self-proclaimed iconoclast come in and derail the discussion by trashing what you like.

A lot of people here like Bill Hicks--so what? A lot of people here like the Beatles. Or hip hop or any number of things other people here can't stand. If we all ran around knocking every object of attention off their pedestals and then stuck around to smite the philistines for the whole thread, what a load of fun that would be.

You turned this thread into a thread about you from your first comment on. You made your point--Hicks sucks and people who liked him were self-congratulating phonies--and quite understandably, given the nature of the link and the comments preceding, people took offense. Nobody particularly cares for being told they're a mindless fool over and over and over, you know.
posted by y2karl at 10:49 AM on February 17, 2004


You at least go to the bother of making posts about what you like and can at least imagine what it's like to have some self-proclaimed iconoclast come in and derail the discussion by trashing what you like.

I don't have to imagine it, it happens all the time. It's an aesthetic discussion. If I post about something I like, I fully expect someone to pop up and say it sucks. My response will depend on whether they can give me a good reason why they think it sucks or whether their just fulla gas.
posted by jonmc at 11:06 AM on February 17, 2004


y2karl, The Bill Hicks canonization express is leaving the station, and jonmc's trying to slow it down by throwing himself onto the tracks. It's depressing to see an artist with only slender talents lionized for his political beliefs -- which in Hicks' case were not extraordinarily insightful or cleverly put. It's more than a matter of taste, like liking the Beatles. It's the repulsive spectacle of unfunny political pandering -- the same thing that makes people hate Dennis Miller.
posted by Faze at 11:24 AM on February 17, 2004


Some very good bare knuckle posting going on here , Karl had the upper hand there against a weakening jon but now faze has stepped back into the ring , Karl may have some problems.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2004


I'm way too late to this party, but Bill wasn't your standard scream-and-smash comic. I heard him talk about things I'd never heard anyone discuss, not in comedy, not in books, not anywhere. Some of it was downright stupid, some of it was disgusting or obviously intended to provoke, and most of it was from another planet, intellectually.

All of it, even the dick jokes, makes me think about stuff in a different way than I'd been trained to do. Or rather, after hearing him talk about politics and sex and organized religion elevation of consciousness, I realized how trained my thought processes had been up to then.

I'm a better person for having heard Bill Hicks. I can't say that about Gallagher or Kinison or Cosby or Leno. Carlin & Pryor, maybe. But that list is short. And anyone who can get on it adds their value to the universe, and if you're not on that list, then what are you doing with your life?

I could have done without the country music interludes, too, though.
posted by chicobangs at 11:36 AM on February 17, 2004


If I post about something I like, I fully expect someone to pop up and say it sucks.

Isn't that the number one rule of the internet?
posted by Cyrano at 11:39 AM on February 17, 2004


Exactly, cyrano. Anyone who wets their pants over someone knocking what they like needs to find a new hobby, like macrame or some shit.
posted by jonmc at 11:44 AM on February 17, 2004


If I post about something I like, I fully expect someone to pop up and say it sucks.

At a certain point it becomes about the someone saying so and not about what sucks. That point was passed here long ago.
posted by y2karl at 11:47 AM on February 17, 2004


jonmc - "No matter what his fans might say about how "challenging" he is, he was really more about congratulating himself and his audience on how right thinking and cool they were."

John Lar [from the article] - "Among the daring lessons that Hicks's comedy taught Stewart and other comedians of the next generation was "to walk the room" - if Hicks didn't think that the room was worthy of him, he would "walk it"; that is, drive his comedy further than even he might normally think of doing. "The audience's apathy spurred him on," says Stewart."

jonmc - "It's an aesthetic discussion. If I post about something I like, I fully expect someone to pop up and say it sucks."

But would you expect them to self-importantly piss all over the tribute, to prove how right they are? After reading the article and this thread, my impression of Bill Hicks was enhanced, my impression of jonmc, diminished.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:58 AM on February 17, 2004


Well, there goes my night's sleep, Blue Stone.

NTM, that quote makes Hicks sound more self-important than ever.
posted by jonmc at 12:02 PM on February 17, 2004


Hicks isn't the one coming across as self-important in this thread, jonmc.

So what if a few Mefi'ers want to remember a particular comedian fondly? Knock off the pouting and posturing and leave 'em to it.
posted by clever sheep at 12:17 PM on February 17, 2004


Jon, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here. I take it you think the Hicks fans in this thread are a cult of unthinking sheep, bowing mindlessly down to our overhyped, self-aggrandizing, tortured martyred master and lashing out at anyone who questions his godlike status.

If that's the case, and let's pretend we actually are that dumb (certainly, I may just be), you're more like what I took Bill to have been than you'd ever let yourself admit. In fact, I bet you'd have gotten along famously with him.

And you know, no one told a better dick joke than Bill. (After all that heavy confrontational shit, he had to be able to rock a dick joke, just to get out of the Comedy Pouch in Possum Ridge, Arkansas, alive.)
posted by chicobangs at 12:18 PM on February 17, 2004


Another dead hero.
posted by whoshotwho at 12:49 PM on February 17, 2004


jonmc, thread topic aside, you're looking scared here. What's riding you to make the same point a dozen times in one thread. You seem frantically defensive... but of what? He was just a comedian; cool your jets.
posted by squirrel at 12:53 PM on February 17, 2004


You seem frantically defensive... but of what?

I make a criticism of somebody, the Hicks Fan Club comes out of the woodwork to tear me apart (and engage in half-assed armchair psychoanalysis rather than just accept what I'm saying at face value), and you're calling me defensive?
posted by jonmc at 1:07 PM on February 17, 2004


The proof is in the pudding.
posted by y2karl at 1:12 PM on February 17, 2004


jonmc, do you seriously fail to recognize a difference between a) "making a criticism of somebody" and b) doing so over and over and over and over and over and OVER again?

The first registers an opinion. The second makes you an ass.
posted by clever sheep at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2004


The second makes you an ass.

Or someone defending his point of view. Is that only a crime if it's somebody you don't like? If that makes me an "ass," in your eyes, so be it. I guess we won't be exchanging christmas cards.
posted by jonmc at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2004


You seem frantically defensive... but of what?

The dozen or so people who keep asking him what his problem is, perhaps?
posted by yerfatma at 1:32 PM on February 17, 2004


Jon, I had to go back through 7 of your comments in this thread since you actually addressed the topic. (There was one aside about self-importance, but aside from that, nothing.)

Enough with the self-flagellation, man. Please.

A quote from Jay Leno (whom Bill Hicks hated almost beyond words for selling out and 'going safe'):
"He really wasn't a comedian when I met him, he was, starting to be a comedian, I mean I knew him, god, twelve, thirteen years, he was still a kid, he was in high school, and I was playing in Austin, and he would come and listen, you know, when you're a comedian, you've been on TV, inevitably, the comedy club owner always says, oh, there's a group of people in the city, would you talk to them about comedy? Okay, so, one of the afternoons, you go down, you talk to them about comedy, I think he had a comedy workshop at this club, and ah... I always find when you're teaching comedy, the one who sort of gets up in disgust and leaves and thinks you're a jerk is usually the best comedian in the room."
posted by chicobangs at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2004


jonmc, your derision was becoming repetitive and self-indulgent, and that kind of performance is unbecoming no matter who's doing the whapping. Re: both the thread and the snark, it's not about you, m'kay?

And lest I start bolloxing the thread too, I'm going to get back to my macrame.
posted by clever sheep at 1:50 PM on February 17, 2004


Well really jon does have a point , i mean , philosopher - comedian ?
His radiant comic light had burned for 32 years, two months and 10 days.
You're telling me that doesnt have tones of beatification in it ?
Was there no one at the scene with a stopwatch to figure out the minutes as well ?
The startling revelation that he ate ragu ?
Having said that i liked reading about how the man lived his life with honesty and integrity theres not exactly a lot of comedians that call america on its bullshit.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2004


Well really jon does have a point...

That's right, sarge: one point in 15 posts.
posted by squirrel at 3:48 PM on February 17, 2004


The beatification is present. That's what happens when you die before your creative powers begin to decline. People look at what you've done, and extrapolate that you could have done infinitely more if only you'd been given the time. This is pretty common. John Keats, Nick Drake, Jon Cazale, and John Toole are some examples. Talent gets overstated by mortality. Bill Hicks was not a prophet or a messiah.

He was, however, insightful, authentic, and surprisingly prescient. Jon is trying to argue that he was an elitist with a schtick and a niche market, that he was pretty much valueless, that his contributions were worthless. This doesn't ring true, because many, many people do find his comedy meaningful, even if Jon doesn't.

So, on the spectrum between Second Coming of Christ and Just Some Asshole, Bill Hicks, like everybody, falls somewhere in between. Yes, his greatness is overstated by many, but it's also understated by Jonmc and others, probably (I intuit) in large part as a reaction to the perception that the rest of us are at the other end of the spectrum, at deification.

Which I don't think is true. I certainly don't think so.

Anyway, comedy is subjective, and Jon, you know that. I have no idea why you feel like you have to come in here and tell us we're naive and .. what.. snobbish? Well, scratch that, I could see it happening once, but you keep doing it, as though we weren't allowed to disagree. Nobody who's read the thread has any doubts about where you stand, so if clarification is the issue, consider it moot. And yes, people have been equally catty to you, but in point of fact you did start it, and then doggedly pursue it.
posted by Hildago at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2004


Hey, cats and dogs!
posted by Hildago at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2004


What Would Bill Do? [about this thread?]
posted by moonbird at 3:58 PM on February 17, 2004


WWBHD
posted by squirrel at 4:03 PM on February 17, 2004


While Mr. Hicks has his detractors, his succinct diatribes are reminders to think; either out loud with others, or just for yourself. Summarizing a society and extrapolating possible directions is easy, doing it humorously and accurately is rare. I think he did it well enough to be put in the company of such worthy curmudgeons as Mencken, Orwell, and Twain.

You have people that want to hear comedy where they don't have to think about anything. To me they are missing the point. They say, 'I just want to escape from reality.' No you don't. You want to escape from illusion. In television, people had at their fingertips a magical box with an unprecedented power to inform and illuminate; but it had fallen into the hands of accountants, demographics analysts, and marketing experts whose intent was to deceive - for money alone. -- Bill Hicks
posted by oldmanyoung at 4:23 PM on February 17, 2004


*holds sides*
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:34 PM on February 17, 2004


I really enjoyed the section of the (original) article where it talked about his last days. I had always wondered about those days, but figured that if I did not know then I probably should not know. It is really nice to read that he handled something as frightening as his own mortality so well.
posted by Rattmouth at 4:57 PM on February 17, 2004


Looking back, I did go a bit overboard in making my point, such as it was. Sorry, I'll try to restrain my big yap more when I'm in a mood. It's a character defect I gotta work on.
posted by jonmc at 5:54 PM on February 17, 2004


*seals envelope on Jon's christmas card*

Mensch.
posted by clever sheep at 6:33 PM on February 17, 2004


Character defect is a bit too strong a description for feeling cranky--which is certainly something we all have to work on. Post in haste, repent in leisure.
posted by y2karl at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2004


Now: we hug.
posted by Hildago at 7:46 PM on February 17, 2004


Get your hand off my ass, hildago.

Character defect is a bit too strong a description for feeling cranky


Not when you do it as consistently as I do, and in the real world, too. But thanks.
posted by jonmc at 8:01 PM on February 17, 2004


I'm not hugging jon until someone gives me some tequila. He smells funny.

I criticized Hicks and everyone acted like I just kicked their pet puppy

Well, I attempted to engage you in a discussion, and you just struck a pose. So poop on you.

Now where's that tequila?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:59 PM on February 17, 2004


The lesson of the thread is an old one: criticize the post, not its author.
posted by NortonDC at 9:48 PM on February 17, 2004


*gives stav a lovely big bottle of tequila*
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:50 AM on February 18, 2004


Thanks. NortonDC, I've been sweating this one out!
posted by moonbird at 4:12 AM on February 18, 2004


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