Monday, April 14, 2008

Bill Hicks "Chomsky with dick jokes"

Bill Hicks was born on 16 December 1961 in Georgia. His family moved a lot around America and when he was seven they settled down in Houston, Texas. His comedian talents began to emerge in the midst of a strong protestant education, which was in vain as he was against the “valuable morals” of the Church and preferred to use his school years to develop his sense of humour. He was already qualified by a pupil as “the funniest thing he had ever seen”. The Church reverend also commented to his parents: “He is very funny but you should look at how you raise him”. His philosophy was mainly based on making fun of the contradictions of morality.

In 1978 he started his comedian career with some friends (Dwight Slade, Kevin Booth) in the Comedy Workshop in Houston, attending Stratford High School at the same time. Thanks to his success, he began to develop his improvisational skills.

After his graduation in 1980, he went to Los Angeles and performed at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. The same year, he also acted in a sitcom called Bulba.

Back to Houston in 1982, he founded with his friend Kevin Booth the Absolute Creative Entertainment (ACE) Production Company, which then became the Sacred Cow Productions and made small documentaries about current social issues.

In 1983, he fell into alcoholism and hard drugs. In his comedy, he continued to ridicule the American Dream and the opinion of his contemporaries. His still increasing success allowed him to appear many times on the Late Night talk show presented by David Letterman. In 1986, despite being broke and physically and mentally destroyed by his hard consummation of drugs and alcohol, he nevertheless managed to continue performing in many shows. Soon after, he claimed to have stopped drinking and using drugs.

Throughout his career as a comedian, he also tried to break into the musical world. It was only in 1990 that his first album, Dangerous, was released. He was very successful and his second album, Relentless, came out in 1991. One year later he met Colleen McGarr who became his fiancée. During a tour in the UK, he recorded a show for Channel 4 in which he appeared to be less hostile towards the audience, thus contrasting with his attitude in America. The Rolling Stone Magazine even claimed that he was the “Hot Standup Comic” of 1992.

Back to the USA, he got in touch with the band Tool and opened some of their concerts. This experience led Tool to include some aspects of his philosophy in their 1996 album Ænima.

In 1993, he discovered he had pancreatic cancer. However, he went on recording his album Arizona Bay with his friend Kevin Booth. Later in the year, he was supposed to appear again on David Letterman’s Late Show but his performance was censored. This explains his refusal to appear on this show ever again.

He played his last show in the beginning of 1994 and then returned to his parents’ house. There, he stopped speaking and died twelve days later, on February 26. His two albums, Arizona Bay and Rant in E-minor, were released posthumously in 1997. In 2005, he was ranked 13th on the “Top 20 Greatest Comedy Acts Ever”.

Coralie, Mathilde & François-Xavier

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