Bill Hicks

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William Melvin "Bill" Hicks (December 16, 1961 February 26, 1994) was a seminal American stand-up comedian and social critic. His humor challenged mainstream beliefs, aiming to "enlighten people to think for themselves." Hicks used a ribald approach to express his material, describing himself as "Chomsky with dick jokes." His jokes included general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy and personal issues. Hicks' material was often deliberately controversial and steeped in black comedy. In both his stand-up performances, and during interviews, he often criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity and banality within the media and popular culture, describing them as oppressive tools of the ruling class, meant to "keep people stupid and apathetic." For many years, Hicks was friends with fellow comedian Denis Leary. However, in 1993, Hicks was angered upon hearing Leary's album No Cure for Cancer. While he had laughed off similarities between the two comedians before, the parallels between the album and Hicks' material (including jokes about smoking, Jim Fixx, and Judas Priest) and tone were clear. Reportedly, upon hearing the album, "Bill was furious. All these years, aside from the occasional jibe, he had pretty much shrugged off Leary's lifting. Comedians borrowed, stole stuff and even bought bits from one another. Milton Berle and Robin Williams were famous for it. This was different. Leary had, practically line for line, taken huge chunks of Bill's act and recorded it." The friendship ended abruptly as a result. At least three stand-up comedians have gone on the record stating they believe Leary stole Hicks' material as well as his persona and attitude. In an interview, when Hicks was asked why he had quit smoking, he answered, "I just wanted to see if Denis would, too." In another interview, Hicks famously told an interviewer: "I have a scoop for you. I stole his (Leary's) act. I camouflaged it with punchlines, and to really throw people off, I did it before he did." In April 1993, while touring in Australia, Hicks started complaining of pains in his side, and on June 16 of that year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver. After being diagnosed with cancer, Hicks would often joke openly at performances exclaiming it would be his last. Hicks performed the actual final show of his career at Caroline's in New York on January 6, 1994. He moved back to his parents' house in Little Rock, Arkansas, shortly thereafter. He spent time with his parents, playing them the music he loved and showing them documentaries about his interests. He died of cancer in the presence of his parents at 11:20 p.m. on February 26, 1994. Hicks was buried in the family plot in Leakesville, Mississippi. A film about Hicks' life and career, rumored to be directed by Ron Howard, is said to be in pre-production. Russell Crowe has been mentioned as one of the producers and may portray Hicks as well. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS ADULT HUMOR AND SUBJECT MATTER





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