Or to give him his full and correct title;
William Hicks, unwilling Erisian Prophet, willing swallower of dose heroic and invocator of the pan-demos ‘Goat Boy’.
Back in the days before the internets friends of mine would swap tapes of comedians. There was a bloke called Dennis Leary who did one called “No cure for cancer”. In it he donned the persona of an tough no nonsense ‘tell it like it is’ type of guy. At first we didn’t realise that the material he was doing was exactly copied, at points word for word, from the act of a genuinely subversive voice, Bill Hicks.
I remember a slightly cooler member of our social circle introduced me to Hicks’s material with the sort of arrogance you can only have when you realise someone is a fan of Dennis Leary but has never heard of his superior muse.
The first time I heard him it was a shock to realise that there was someone who had such a similar perspective on life to me. His talent, I think, is to say all the things his audience had thought themselves but had never quite managed to articulate. If Hicks’s material is shocking that’s where the current lies.
There’s a film of his life coming out soon, I watched a trailer for it recently in a little independent theatre me and my girlfriend sometimes go to. Bearing in mind how closely I agree with him, it was weird to recall how genuinely subversive his ideas are and to hear a few gasps in the audience alongside the laughs.
The tricky thing with someone like Bill Hicks is that over the years I’ve watched his material so often it has become part of my soul. I lose track of where his opinions begin and mine end. Robert Anton Wilson believed that was how reincarnation worked. You absorb the ideas of people who are no longer around and then to give voice to them to your contemporaries.
I guess that’s the point of this blog entry. Go google him and watch his work for yourself. Then pass it on. I’ll review the film of his life here once I’ve seen it.