As his classic Arizona Bay is rereleased, does the late standup myth still have something important and amusing to say?
In 1993, when Bill Hicks registered Arizona Bay, he was at the pinnacle of his superpowers. He had taken the UK by hurricane, playing two sell-out nationwide tours the previous year alone. He had experienced the dubious honour of being censored by CBS for a procedure on the David Letterman prove, simply to subsequently rework that procedure into a stumbled HBO special. He was the subject of a lengthy chart in the New Yorkerwhich shed him as a unique expression in America, an prohibit in the culture. Within six months hed fucking dead, at persons under the age of 32.
The pancreatic cancer that took Hickss life had already been diagnosed before he finished Arizona Bay, an hour-long album that was originally exhausted posthumously in 1997 and gets an expanded rerelease on Friday. In the valedictory statement he exhausted shortly before his death, Hicks writes to seeing how the diagnosis seemed one of lifes weirdest and worst puns imaginable. He sustained, Id been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realising my nightmares that it merely sit me on my head for a while. Why me !?
For those of us who were fans of Hicks during his lifetime, his death was as definitive as that of John Lennon or Kurt Cobain. In one of those recognitions whose ethic lies in reminding you how much of an moronic you are, I passed up the chance to see Hicks on his Relentless tour in 92. To make it worse, I did so because Id merely paid to see Dennis Leary act his No Cure For Cancer prove ,~ ATAGEND a routine that is widely held to be a straight slam of Hickss material. No trouble, I reasoned, hed be back again soon enough. He wasnt, and what was left were the cassettes of Hickss establishes, registered off late-night TV, committed to remembering and, on occasion, adopted as maxims for living.
One such appears on track 22 of Arizona Bay.
Oh by the room, if someone here is in market or promote, kill yourself.
[ laughter ]
No joke there, Im merely planting the seed, see if it flourishes, who is familiar with But earnestly, be killed.[ overcome] Now
[ more laughter ]
No earnestly, theres no rationalisation for what you do, youre Satans little helpers, be killed. OK , now back to the show.
[ more laughter ]
[ more laughter ]
Anyway. You know what flaw me about doing stuff like that, is that I know every market being here is going: Yep, Bill is trying to get that anti-marketing dollar, thats a huge market. [ Comes close to mic ] Not everything is a fucking market. Stop putting a dollar sign on every fucking act in the world! [ away from mic ] Ooh, the righteous fury dollar, enormous market. Very smart of Bill.
It goes on, get by turns both more indignant and more ridiculous. Its perhaps the most renowned fragment of Hickss material( though there are certainly others ). It likewise proves off why he was a lord humorist, how the upwards of 200 proves he played a year from persons under the age of 17 had afforded him technological restrict of his craft.
You cant hear the cadence from the record( the diffident room in which he gives the first, killer route ), but you can see the pauses, the room he allows people to roll the idea around their pates at the same occasion as theyre laughable( quite maybe in collapse ). The room he plucks the joke back, as if to carry on( Now ), but then reels back in and gives the pierce again.
By the third time hes extemporising, jazzing it up, something common to this indicate and increasingly where Hicks was heading with his achievement. Ultimately, after expertly milking four contests of laughter from one route, he gives the actual joke: that marketeers can find a chance for making money in anything .
Its not easy to get a sense of how important a comic Hicks remains in 2015. Hes went good Google juice, with over 22 m pages indexed under his figure. But by oppose, another amusing Bill, Bill Murray, has 176 m. Hicks was always an alternative headache in the US. But the late-night medium that received his substance too hot for TV even then is now dominated by song-and-dance guys.
Meanwhile, in the UK, beyond the greying fleshes of Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, theres a strong client to be made that the nations most prominent sarcastic comic is Russell Howard( catch his Good News at 10 pm on Thursdays on BBC2 ).
A lot of information materials on Arizona Bay proves its age very. Hickss fascination with the Kennedy assassination may have reverberated in 1993, but its confined to the past now. You can hear the awkwardness in the area when Hicks talks about his porn wont( Video activities and porno films, I please we are able to combination the two, Id have a high rating on Clam Lappers by now ), but in 2015 the thing that offends the most is that he had to go to something called a video accumulation to get it. And as for all the stuff about inhaling the determining people then seemed with Hickss defiantly self-destructive practice( hed cease by this phase, to the disappointment of at the least one gathering member who screams nooo at the revelation) is nowadays a enjoy that dare not are talking about name.
To suggest that Hicks is out of sync with the modern age, however, is not the same act as saying hes irrelevant. First off, its impossible to listen to Hickss act specially the sex stuff without discovering the performance ring, and quite frankly diluted, in the standup of Louis CK. Furthermore, do those masterful pauses and restatements, the abrupt substitutions of flavor, the imagined interlocutions do they not form the structure of the one American comic who has consistently expressed actuality to ability these past 15 times, Jon Stewart? Hickss influence may not be obvious, but its there.
And while the culture has moved on, it doesnt means that Hickss way of thinking is no longer helpful. Listen to a gentleman delivers a procedure on the LA riots that both castigates the police as prejudiceds, but likewise supports( white-hot) truck driver to run over( black) rioters and it was better carries a charge in 2015, but it comes from a most varied home. In 92 the risk received from calling out the police, in 15 its from saying something thats not PC. Its possible it is now time shoot Hicks as a gentleman of white-hot privilege, calling out whatever took his fancy. But its evenly possible to listen to Hicks and feel that someone moral but unconstrained is exactly what we need right now. And a bit of righteous fury wouldnt go amiss neither.
Hicks told the New Yorker: The best act I do is make connects. I connect everything . I miss that. I likewise miss a person who talks about hifalutin ideas in low-slung expression. Someone who talks soiled to make a phase about universal enjoy. Perhaps most revolutionary, I miss a person who has in an age where consumerism is perhaps our defining dogma repudiates putting a dollar sign on every fucking thing.
Read more: www.theguardian.com