Friday, March 7, 2014

Bill Hicks: his short and sensational life

Bill Hicks died 20 years ago today. In this obituary, published in the Guardian in 1994, John Lahr reflects on the US comedian's brand of intellectual anarchy

The Guardian obituary of Bill Hicks as it appeared on 9 March 1994
Bill Hicks, one of the most daring American stand-up comedians of his generation, liked to ask for the non-smokers in the audience to identify themselves, then puff away at them while inspecting his cigarette pack. "What's cool is that every pack has a Surgeon General's Warning, isn't that great? Mine says Warning - Smoking May Cause Foetal Injury Or Premature Birth. Found my brand! Just don't get the ones that say Lung Cancer – Shop around. Gimme a carton of Low Birth Weight!"

Last October, Hicks became the first performer since Elvis Presley to be banned from CBS's Ed Sullivan Theatre where the David Letterman Show is in residence and where Hicks had made his 11th appearance. In an outraged 32-page letter Hicks wrote to me, he quoted Noam Chomsky:

"'The responsibility of the intellectual is to tell the truth and expose lies.' While I do not consider myself an intellectual by any stretch of the imagination, his quote, coincidentally is the same way my parents taught me how to live. So in honour of them, I'll continue doing what I'm doing, the best way I can. Then I'll see you all in heaven, were we can really share a great laugh together."

Read the full article - The Guardian

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