Chas Early as Bill Hicks
2 June 2006 WOS Rating: Chas Early’s solo tribute to the late American comedian Bill Hicks, who died from cancer in 1994 at the age of 32, features smoking, bad language, ‘dick jokes’ and confrontational political comment – in short, Hicks would be proud.
The show, which was previously a sell-out success at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2004 and 2005 and has played a national tour and extended season at London's Soho Theatre, fits well in Leicester Square’s The Venue as the space has a comedy club atmosphere to it.
Material for the performance (co-written by Early and
Richard Hurst, who also directs) has been updated since its debut two years ago, and the now oh-so-fashionable irreverent take on politics, world hunger, religion and death still has a hard-hitting edge to it, with Early’s deadpan delivery getting the laughs exactly in the style of Hicks.
Coldplay and Dido fans beware: Hicks doesn’t take kindly to anything other than pure, original rock, which he claims to be able to listen to all day long in heaven. He explains why drugs are better than alcohol, why George Bush’s daughters should go into the porn industry, why people would rather starve than listen to the Live 8 concert, and why high school massacres are good for keeping teenagers on their toes.
Much of the comedy is not particularly to my taste, although I did find enough to laugh at to keep me entertained. I can’t personally vouch for the accuracy of Early’s impersonation, having never seen Hicks perform; but judging by the rapturous applause of some of the die-hard Hicks fans in the audience, it's pretty spot on. In deference, it's a nice touch that Early announces Hicks’ miraculous return at the beginning of the show, “albeit in the body of a little-known British actor”.
At just over an hour in length, this is a great Friday night comedy spot for people getting in the mood to party - even though some in-jokes make it a little too “Hicks Fans Only, Please.”
- Caroline Ansdell
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