WhatsOnStage Logo

Guest Blog: Bill Hicks - Is it a Name or an Adjective?

WhatsOnStage logo
That’s the question I ask every year as I look through the Fringe programme and see comedians described as the new Bill Hicks, the English Bill Hicks, the Swedish Bill Hicks, the lovechild of Michael McIntyre and Bill Hicks – okay I made that last one up, but it’s probably only a matter of time.

The point about this is that it tells me nothing about the comedian themselves. Bill Hicks has become an adjective, like ‘radical’, ‘controversial', ‘brilliant’, or more likely ‘idle’ because let’s face it if you are trying to sell yourself by claiming an association with a man who said anyone who worked in advertising should kill themselves, then you're probably not blessed with the same brave, courageous and visionary talent that you believe Hicks himself possessed.

In short, by signing up as the new Bill Hicks you are proving that you ain't. But it's not just wannabe comedians who trot out Hicks' name in order to avoid the use of their imagination, it's journalists too. Idle journalists who see a comedian that swears and talks about politics and religion in a way that would make no-one other than a slightly repressed middle-class catholic go, "ooh, that was a bit risqué," and immediately write a review that either hails the guy as the new heir to his throne, or dismisses a claim that no-one but they have made.

Hicks is often seen as an almost godlike figure - I’m not going to get into any debate about whether or not he deserved that tag, and whether he would have retained it had he not died when he did - but if you want a religious comparison, here’s a man who appears to have made the greatest possible sacrifice, by dying in his early thirties, so that a new generation of comedians could follow his teachings and live in his name. As Hicks himself said when explaining how Jesus might not want to see people wearing crosses, "they’ve totally missed the point."

- Andy Moseley

Andy is the writer of Are You Lonesome Tonight?, a one act play being performed as part of the Laughing Free Fesitval. He lives in Surrey and as well as writing this play, has also written a book Around the States in 90 Days and two other plays. He is founder member of NoLogoProductions.

Are You Lonesome Tonight? is running at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House, 14-18 August at 14.30


Tagged in this Story