Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the passing of Bill Hicks. I first discovered him when the Comedy Channel broadcast a documentary called "It's Just a Ride." I remember watching this comedian say amazing things. He said things that really grabbed me and, not only that, but he was hilarious. His worldview was one I really identified with but once you get beyond that you quickly see that his writing and presentation were on par with the great ones. He was as funny and intelligent as Carlin and Pryor with the timing of Steve Martin. He was brilliant and I was hooked. I had found a new great comedian. I had found a new Carlin or Pryor! How many times in your life do you come across an artist like Bill Hicks? I was ecstatic.
Of course you can guess what happened next. After a few minutes more of watching the documentary I realized that those talking about him were memorializing him. Bill Hicks was dead! I had discovered and lost my new favorite comedian in the span of ten minutes. I was crushed.
I have wondered a lot how I had no idea Bill Hicks existed. I love stand up comedy. Especially comedy like his. He appeared on Letterman a lot in the 80s. In the 80s I used to record Letterman on our home VCR. You know what I used to do? I would watch the first twenty or thirty minutes of each Late Show. I did that because I loved how Dave would screw around for the first two commercial breaks and once the guests came on I would lost interest. I wonder if any of those shows I recorded had a Bill Hicks appearance at the end? He would have perfectly augmented my tastes back then. He would have fit in perfectly with Tom Waits, Was (Not Was), Bill Cosby, Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young. If only!
I also wonder if Bill Hicks played the Comedy Zone in Charlotte in the early 90s? At that point I was going there occasionally and I saw some good comedy. You know what, though. If Bill Hicks did play the Comedy Zone while I was in Charlotte I really don't want to know. That would really bum me out. If I had caught him early in the week there would have been a good chance I would have been there every night for a week.