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Who was Bill Hicks?

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--- Quote ---Yes it would be silly to do that. My ideas about how Hicks generally responds to audiences comes from other gigs I've seen where he makes very clear his awareness of the audience's lack of response.
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Which?!  If you look at Dark Poet, then it's really quite a depressing show, he's ill, and the Montreal audience just aren't digging him.  He doesn't rant though, he does every damn thing he can to try and please them and win them over.  Sorry, have to rush this as BB is starting.  The truth of how he responds to audiences is probably somewhere between "Dark Poet" and "I'm Sorry Folks" though.

Peking O:

--- Quote from: "thatmuch" ---Even when you were a bald avuncular jew!
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Oh, that was Neil was it? I'm terribly slow on these kind of things.



--- Quote from: "Neil" ---Funny Firm, yeah.   What people like thatmuch, who have only seen clips, have to bear in mind is just how much the audience were baiting him before he eventually exploded.  As far as I can remember, they were all interrupting his gig by shouting out "Free Bird!" and he dealt with it fairly placidly, until the woman shouted out that he "sucked" which was the straw that etc.
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It's a great show but is almost ruined by the contsant heckling by people who clearly didn't like Hick's or his material. The way he dealt with the audience was great, he shut them up and came out with some funny lines along the way, "Hitler had the right idea", etc. To be fair he tried to save the show several times along the way, eventually managing to do his usual routine for a bit until that 'Freebird!' prick popped back up.

Although I've not heard Dark Poet yet, that's the only time I've seen him lose it with an audience, on all the other occasions he's been heckled he's made a joke about it or moved on. Sure he always does his bit's on stage about extinguising fags on non-smoker's faces and letting kids walk out of planes, etc. but from reading some of the anecdotes and interviews his personal friends have given since his death he was a warm, loving guy and nothing like his on stage persona.

Well said Lewis...I'll repost this as I know you'll have missed it when it was posted before.  Fallon Woodland posted it to the Hicks newsgroup years ago to drum some sense into the more idiotic fans who believed he was really the sort of chap who would shout at a waffle waitress:

--- Quote ---
My Friend, Willie Hicks

by Fallon Woodland

Fallon Woodland is a former standup comedian and was a close friend of Bill
Hicks. He was Hicks¹ partner in his last project, a BBC Television series
entitled ³Counts of the Netherworld.² The series never happened, but there
is one pilot tape floating around in cyberspace. Fallon retired from comedy
soon after Hicks¹ death and lives somewhere in the American midwest. One
comedian told us that he ³disappeared² but that¹s not quite how Fallon sees
it: he moved on.


I will not eulogize Bill in some squishy fashion that I know he would
ridicule me for, and I do not lie.

So here is the truth, and in Bill's grand way of announcing one of his many
truths (drum roll).......... I do not miss Bill.

That is right.

I do not miss Bill and I am not grieving as the 26th nears.

Now Bill would say, "now hear me out."

I am not some cold bastard, nor am I some new-age mystic carrying around his
essence in a crystal in my pocket. The fact of the matter is I do not need
to miss him. He is in my heart in the same way a Christian has Jesus in
theirs. He was so big in life that I still smile anytime I think of him.

Of course I can smile because of the comedy that came from Bill. I hesitate
to use the phrase "comedy he wrote." It was so inspired it is more akin to
something he was "given." Yes, I still laugh at Bill's "public" words as
many around the world have and still do. But I smile not because of the
comic, but the man, the friend, the human being, the way he lived his life
and the footprints he has left behind.

It is not a day of tremendous grief.

Bill always was an adventurer. Life was not something to be wandered through
timidly. He was always tasting each moment with relish and appreciation,
devouring life and yet respecting it and the value he saw in all his
friends, never letting go of his belief that love was ultimately the only

Talk about a candle that burned brightly. For myself and others who were
lucky enough to call him friend, this candle did not burn briefly. It is
still here and always will be.

My god, Bill was and is bigger than life and he is certainly bigger than
death, and that is why this day does not toll heavily in my heart. It simply
reminds me how long it has been since I have gotten to talk with Bill on the
phone, or play Nintendo together or laugh over dinner.

I hate to disillusion many who have recreated Bill in their own image after
his passing (a phrase Dwight Slade aptly came up with). Bill was NOT the
same man you saw on-stage. He was not false and what he said on-stage was
not just some act but it was an aspect of Bill. It was a device to pass on
information so he could share his slant on the truth and his passions about
whatever captivated him that day, that moment and that is more than many
accomplish in a lifetime.

As for Bill the person, sorry folks, but when Bill went to dinner, he did
not treat the waiter like the waitress in the "wafflehouse" bit. He treated
the waiter and everyone else with dignity.

And as opposed to many in "the business" one would never know Bill was a
comic offstage because he was never "on." He felt no need to use comedy to
prove anything.

As far as standup comedy goes, Bill had a gift with that medium. I chuckle
now as I started to call it an art form and remembered Bill's words. "What
other art form starts with, "do we have any birthdays in the crowd?"

He had a gift, just as Shakespeare simply knew instinctively how to write
and seemed to be on some wavelength that resonated so deeply with some many
truths inside so many people. They were both great communicators, who, when
their words were perceived, would cause the listener to exclaim the great
"ahhhhhh yes. That is exactly the way to put it!"

But once again, there I go talking about Bill as a comic. Yes he was good,
he was great, he was a genius, he was the best of this generation,
blah-blah-blah. All of that pales when compared the person the other 23
hours when he was not sharing the "gospel according to Willie."

So here are a few truths regarding Bill (or Willie, as he wanted to be
called, but I just couldn't because it sounded so gay. Please, no mail
regarding this), as I knew him.

He was brutally shy and this made him all the more endearing. One felt so
honored to have been allowed into his sacred area of trust.

He once bought a Nintendo gameboy cartridge from one of those stores in New
York that sell cameras and VCRs and all that stuff and you have to haggle to
get the real price. Well, Bill not only did not haggle but when he got home,
he found he had an empty box. Many who have some "imagined" version of Bill
would see him returning to the store like Jesus turning over the
moneychangers tables and screaming beautiful profanities which would be
terribly funny to all who heard it but dreadful to the victim of his rage.
Well, sorry, that is not who Bill was. In truth, he was afraid to go back
and tell them the box was empty for fear the owner would think he had stolen
it and was perpetrating some scam.

He just sat there with an empty box and ate the loss. I rode him and said
..."God Bill, if your public only knew what a pussy you are," and we both
screamed and laughed.

Bill was not a fraud. Nor was he a pussy or a coward. He was a gentle man
brought up by good parents who could not stand to think that someone felt he
was a liar or dealing falsely with them and so he just bought another
cartridge and moved on.

Just as he never made a stink about his some of his material ending up in
Denis Leary's "little skitshow." Many would have sued and made a "name" and
a stink and found a way to "promote" themselves. He just joked, privately,
that Leary had been invited to Bill's parents' house for Thanksgiving
instead of Bill this year, and moved on.

He was the kindest, most compassionate, loyal soul I have ever known. Were
he a woman, I would have married him in a heartbeat, but I was not robbed of
anything because he was born a man. I simply knew him on another level on
which one should, hopefully, know their spouse and partner.

In knowing Bill, I had a friend who was so loyal that, if some woman hurt me
he would say "she is cut from the team." Were there a reconciliation, it was
very hard to get them back in Bill's good favor because he took the hearts
and feelings of his friends so personally and treated them so protectively.

In my years of touring and doing one-nighters with comics from all over and
watching married comics "slip off the ring," Bill had the ability, or rather
the absolute single-minded compulsion, to be loyal if he were involved, no
matter how he was being treated on the other end.

Any woman who was lucky enough to know him that way knew the soul of a poet
and had a devoted friend.

Jesus. I am reading all this I wrote here and I may very well throw up. This
sounds like a goddamned Hallmark card and like I am eulogizing some Eagle
Scout and somehow dressing up his memory in death.

That is not the case. Bill was and is that good. When I spoke at his
memorial service, I looked out at devoted friends and family and remarked,
"seeing this adoration for him reminds me of how religions get started."

When I was going through my separation and divorce, Bill was there every
step of the way. Not guiding and counseling, but instead coming up with
impromptu tirades and little plays which translated into hours of the most
hysterical healing laughter as he would do this little show nightly on the
phone with me called "I Love Lucifer."

He would begin with the theme song to "I Love Lucy" followed by the sound of
a doorbell "ding dong" then each episode would be about some unsuspecting
guest entering the home of my ex and her lover and their offspring.

The parents would be out and the "dark one" was always for some unknown
reason locked in a room pleading so sweetly and gently for someone to let
"it" out, reminding me of an old Twilight Zone with the devil locked in the

Each episode would end with this guest (from the paperboy to the landlord to
a grandparent) unlocking that door to release this poor child followed by
shrieks of "oh sweet Jesus!" and growls, chomping, screams and silence,
closing it out with the theme song again.

These were truly some of the funniest things I have ever heard, but more
importantly, they were the best medicine for a heart that badly needed
healing and he gave that so willingly and freely, hours on end.

In the days before on-line, we would talk on the phone while powering up our
Nintendos in sync and furiously playing Zelda and others at the same time as
we swore at the makers of the software.

When I fell in love once, Bill went into his bathroom with a tape recorder
he bought from Will Lee, Letterman's band's bassist, and, because the
acoustics were nice in there, he would play music on his guitar and sing.
After hours of recording and mixing he sent a tape for the girl I fell for
so she could listen to it while I was out of town and think of me and my
love. It was the most beautiful, romantic, sweet, heartfelt music. Which has
found its way onto his newer CDs thanks to Kevin Booth.

And when I broke up with that girl, besides applying the same brutally,
right on the money perceptions and humor he had used in the routines that
got me through my divorce, he called six or eight times a day to make
absolutely sure I was okay.

Sorry folks ...he was just simply a nice guy. His mother will tell you the
same and people will just think "well that is just the blindness of parental
love." Nope. He was just that nice and she got it and delighted in her boy
and rightly so.

For all of those who delight in the belief he hated children. Sorry, he
doted on his nephew and niece (brother Steve Hicks' kids).

He would give the children the most wonderful gifts like books he had read
as a child and other things that showed both love and proved he was simply a
terrific uncle who wanted them to be happy and imaginative. He would have
been such a great dad.

For those who delighted in Bill's observations and assumed that he would not
hesitate to be cruel, judge for yourselves.

I remember when Carrot Top called Bill and asked why he hated him. For those
of you waiting for a really "acerbic put them in their place" punchline,
there was none.

Instead, Bill explained his disdain for certain approaches to comedy and, in
what was so typically Bill, they met and ended up taking pictures; one of
Carrot Top showing Bill a prop and one of Bill showing Carrot Top a notebook
and a pen. Both men showed great humor and a lot of class that day.

And that is what Bill was all about ultimately, healing, not tearing
something or someone down, but building them up and making it all better
than it was before he had come into contact with them.

Another story, and this one is so obscure and strangely beautiful and
touching that I hope the point is not lost. It was such a small and gentle
act. We had a mutual friend who had a brother with schizophrenia.

(I hear he has passed away. Sorry I did not say I was sorry. You know who
you are. Your brother was a treat and thanks for introducing us. Sorry,
everybody, but I had to say that to someone who I know will be reading

When Bill and I were in England, he bought a box of very expensive cigars
and brought them back to the states as a gift for this man. Instead of
lighting up and puffing away, this man furiously unrolled one of these
cigars over the toilet and emptied it out and flushed it in glee.

Bill, instead of being horrified at how his expensive gift was being
misused, was totally delighted that his gift was being enjoyed so immensely
and was supremely happy about it. That is how generous Bill was.

Even though I say I do not miss him I do miss having new stories.

The night after his memorial I had to do a gig. Afterward, I went back to
the room and, out of habit, looked at the phone to see if the message light
was flashing as it always had been every night for years before. Whenever I
would call the desk there would be a message "Bill called" or "Butch called"
or ³call Buddy Love."

One time I was working in such a small town the motel closed their
switchboard after 11.Well, this would not do for Bill. That is about the
time nightly we¹d begin to talk and enjoy the fullness of an evening. So
when the desk said "we cannot put you through. It is after 11," he said
"huh?" and they said "We cannot put you through, sir, after 11unless it is
an emergency. Is this an emergency?"

Bill responded "yes, it is an emergency. It is the 20th fucking century!"

Click. Dial tone.

Okay, so maybe sometimes he got cross with strangers, but she had it coming.
God he was so quick.

When the Amnesty International people called and asked if he wanted to do
their benefit because he was so "political" Bill immediately pointed out he
was not political and pointed out other comics better suited for that
purpose. They said "well, we would like you. BUT, we have seen your act and
it is the Year of the Woman and we are not trying to censor you, but we were
wondering, do you have any pro-woman material?" and he shot back "I'm a
comic, not a science fiction writer."

Dear God, he was funny.

One last story. When he was diagnosed with cancer in June of 1993 we talked
that night and after some tears, but not one seed of bitterness (instead
more of a sense of wonder as to what was next) he said "hmmm, well this is a
detour I didn't expect. I wonder where it will lead."

Then, after he remarked about our attempts to pitch our show (we were
working on "The Counts of the Netherworld") that "I guess now we have to try
to sell it as a cross between Dick Cavett and Brian's Song." That one joke
about the possibility of death, and then we moved on, ALWAYS believing he
was getting better.

Pancreatic cancer betrayed our plans and stole his body from us. But I
always believed he would be well and so did he. Some would say, because of
the final outcome, that we were in denial. My answer to that is, if you are
in a marriage that ends in divorce, was all the love that was given during
those years a waste?"

Love and belief are NEVER a waste and it served us well and it was what was
needed to fill each day with hope and I am glad for my part in being
blissfully ignorant as to what was about to occur.

Instead of dread, there were so many nights of laughter and plans for what
was next.

Sorry folks, the angry Bill you see on-stage did not even come out then. He
died as beautifully as he lived. And he has reminded me that it is "just a
ride," and to enjoy this thing called life since we are not getting out

Back to the point of looking that night after the gig to see if the message
light was flashing on the phone. Well, it wasn't. And I realized right then
that it wasn't going to that night. Or the next night. Or ever again.

So that I do miss. Talking to my pal all night, giggling over how much we
hated people while at the same time begrudgingly admitting how deeply we
loved them. Like Mickey Roarke in Barfly, "It's not that I hate people. I
just seem to feel a lot better when they aren't around."

So, I just wanted to ruin the idea for those of you convinced that Bill was
as much of a Texas tornado offstage as he was on. Sorry. He was everything I
would ever want to be.

Bill was my friend and always will be. And I want to thank him for giving a
damn about how my day went. Thank you, Willie(though it still sounds
so...well, you know).

Bill, you are my hero.
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