Other Kinds of Hicks, Bill

I saw a documentary where comedian Bill Hicks described how a heckler once complained to him that he didn’t go to comedy clubs to think. Bill said, “Well, where do you go to think? I’ll meet you there.”

Bill was from Houston, like me, and it seemed to frustrate him that the one place people didn’t go to think about the things he wanted them to think about was Houston. He would play sold out theatres in the UK only to return home to rant at an empty room to a smattering of drunks who didn’t even know his name.

I’d say Houston crowds never liked the local sons, but they sure enough turned out for ZZ Top. Those boys could easily sell-out the Summit three nights in a row. Heck, they could probably sell it out for a month. Bill Hicks tried to show us that everything we know about the world might be wrong—probably is wrong. ZZ Top taught us that many women have legs they enjoy seeing. So different goals and different success rates. When ZZ Top sang about legs, you really believed they meant it. When Bill Hicks flew into a blind rage, you really wanted to get out of the room.

Bill was probably right about everything, though. I mean, you know advertising really does cause a lot of problems, though I don’t know how many marketers killed themselves just because Bill told them to. When he flew into one of his rages, screaming at people to kill themselves, the audience would laugh at first, thinking it was a sort of Sam Kinison kind of thing, but Bill’s screaming never resolved into any kind of punch line. You’d be just as likely to cry as to laugh.

And sometimes he would cry, too. I mean, he was really moved beyond despair by the events at Waco. You might not agree with Branch Davidians, but Bill said he saw ATF setting a bunch of people on fire, which is hard to watch, you know, and you might be moved by it. Bill really was. It’s like when you realise the people in charge might not have your best interest at heart.

Disgusted by most things of the earth, Bill sought higher answers. It isn’t possible to talk directly to the cosmos for most people, so Bill did what many before him did—he turned for help to psychotropic substances. I don’t know whether it made him any wiser, but maybe it gave him some comfort, and I can’t fault him for that. Maybe he knew too much—or not enough—either one seems to bring the same pain. That’s the irony really, isn’t it? People who seek answers are rarely made happier by them, but they still keep seeking them, and really, people rarely say, “I wish I’d never looked into that.”

They just get wiser. And sadder. And that makes life worth living.


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