Wednesday marked the twentieth anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks. More than just about any other comedian, Hicks retains a cult – even cultish – following, as the quote above from a Guardian reader testifies. The trouble was that far from being a purveyor of The Truth (whatever the hell that is), Hicks was preaching to the prejudices of his audience, delivering sarcastic commonplaces while being, for the most part, resolutely unfunny.
Of course, humour really is a matter of taste. What one person thinks is hilarious may leave another person cold. (The continued popularity of Miranda Hart is a case in point, in my humble opinion.) Yet as one commentator has noted, fans of Hicks tend not to mention how funny he was. They like to talk about how he cut through the ‘bullshit’ to tell it how it was, barely bothering with humour. That’s because he was, for the most part, a ranting barroom bore.
His acts were just one angry lecture about the stupidity of just about everything: Christians, rednecks, corporations, single mothers, Republicans.
Bill Hicks was God. As in, a gratuitously belligerent asshole whose tantrums have been set down as Scripture by his fanatical followers.