Friday, September 11, 2015

Paste Magazine: 10 Jokes that Prove Bill Hicks was the Best Comic of His Time

Out tomorrow, Bill Hicks: The Complete Collection features every album and special the comedian ever released, along with more than ten hours of previously unreleased material and a photo book, spread out across 12 CDs and 6 DVDs. There’s no denying Hicks’s talent now, but it took American audiences a while to catch on in the early 1990s. Hicks defied classification because he was an entirely different sort of comic. He elevated stand-up comedy with his long think-piece jokes that pushed away from uproarious punch lines and instead approached life’s more frustrating developments with a philosophical air tinged with humor.

Hicks wasn’t afraid to call bullshit on many a problem arising in the political, cultural or social arenas. Talking about the injustice of John Lennon’s murder when Barry Manilow lived on suffocating the world with his sound, Hicks said, “If you’re going to kill someone, have some fucking taste.” It’s a stance that would be hard to imagine any comic taking today, least of which because the media fallout would be so intense. He was more than an irreverent comic, though; he was himself a deep thinker attuned to the inane and insane. If he pushed buttons, he did so in order to awaken people to the world around them.

In many ways, Hicks’s comedy had a prescient quality. Talking about everything from the news cycles on CNN Headline News to mounting anti-intellectualism, he covered topics that still ring pertinent today. The names in his jokes may have changed, but the issues haven’t. One can easily imagine him attacking Miley Cyrus instead of Debbie Gibson, Donald Trump instead of George Bush.

Here are ten jokes that prove Bill Hicks was the best stand-up comic of his time, and an eerily farsighted one, too. They don’t make comics like him anymore.

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