Wholly influential and ridiculously honest stand-up comic Bill Hicks died fifteen years ago today, succumbing to lung cancer. Ironically he had always opined that that was how he would meet his end. Smoking seemed to be his obsession and he was rarely seen onstage not puffing away.
The comedian moved to Houston with his family at the age of seven, and his years he forever colored his world-view. He made his name here in town performing at the Comedy Workshop, which is sadly now a cleaners.
His act was littered with that "Bubba" voice that all of in the area know so well, and may very well unknowingly carry. The Hicks family moved away by his senior year of high school but Hicks always came back to perform and routinely hit up Cecil's on West Gray for all his drinking needs.
In January, a contrite David Letterman finally showed to the public a lost 1993 Hicks stand-up routine that Letterman had cut from his Late Show at the last minute. The short set was rife with material about abortion and celebrity torture. At the time Letterman thought it was too extreme for television. Hicks' mother Mary came on the show and helped Letterman introduce the unaired clip.
Hicks was immensely ahead of his time, paving the way for such angry comics like Lewis Black and Louis CK. Today, he is apart of the holy trinity of abrasive comedians like George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, and Richard Pryor. His material on insidious government control and the burgeoning reality television movement that was still in it's infancy during his lifetime still shock and enthrall listeners to this day.
Director Ron Howard is currently trying to get a biopic off the ground about Hicks starring "Gladiator" star Russell Crowe. Our response to that?
Here's some Hicks:
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.