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Is Bill Hicks funny?

 
 
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 08:49 am
For some reason I've been hearing alot about Bill Hicks as of late. People mentioning him alongside Carlin, saying it sucks that all the good comedians are gone. I had never heard of him, and so started listening to some of his stuff.

I really don't find the guy funny. Was he really popular in his time? What do you guys think, is he funny? If so, I would love for you to point me to some youtube clips of your favorite bits of his. I've only looked at a couple, but was unimpressed.

He seems to have the "The world is stupid and I hate everyone" style of jokes. For me, the jokes don't match the delivery. I don't know if this is my general preference, or if I've been conditioned by listening to other comics. However, for me his style of jokes works better with high energy, lots of changes in volume and inflection, etc. A couple comedians I enjoy who do this are Lewis Black, and Sam Kinison. I feel all 3 have similar material (or at least a similar inspiration for their material) but Hicks has a very different delivery then Black and Kinison.

Just to complete this post, here is a video of Kinison's first TV appearance, on Letterman. I am posting it for the last joke he does, which starts at 4:40, so if you don't want to watch it all, and least watch the end.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 5 • Views: 6,077 • Replies: 30
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DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 09:27 am
@Nick Ashley,
I'd forgotten how annoying the yelling is.

Thanks for that.
Nick Ashley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 09:32 am
@DrewDad,
so do you prefer Hicks instead, or do you not like either of them?
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 09:34 am
@Nick Ashley,
I found Hicks hilarious and on point. But then, I'm an angry bitter man.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 09:50 am
@Nick Ashley,
I find Lewis Black hilarious. Hicks, I just find annoying.
thegalacticemperor
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 10:42 am
@Nick Ashley,
Quote:
I really don't find the guy funny.

Say it ain't so, Nickodemus! Hopefully, you just haven't been properly exposed.

Here are a few clips and I suggest you check out Rant in E Minor in its entirety.





DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 11:22 am
@DrewDad,
Correction. Kinison I find annoying. Hicks I find (found) boring.
0 Replies
 
Nick Ashley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 11:34 am
@thegalacticemperor,
Sorry emperor.. I tried, I really tried. I feel like he is this comedy legend that I should love, but I just don't find him funny. After watching those clips (I watched the last 2, haven't watched the first yet, but I will) I do think it was wrong to compare him to Kinison and Black. Perhaps I was just trying to group him with comedians I enjoy.

I actually think he reminds me of Dennis Leary, another comedian whose material I rarely enjoy. It's not the crude humor, I don't mind that at all. Sometimes I find it hilarious. I'm trying to analyze what it is, and haven't put my finger on it yet. I'm thinking that most of the crude humor I like has a light side to it. Stuff like South Park, or the 'The Aristocrats' joke. The Aristocrats joke is as crude as you can possibly be, but it turns out the joke is the fact the you made someone listen to 5 minutes of disgusting filth for no reason, with no punchline at all really. And that, to me, is funny.

I think for me, the crude humor has to be delivered in a highly sarcastic way, or have some other sense of lightness to it. When comedians tell the Aristocrats joke, they often have to fight to not start laughing in the middle of it. I like that. Bill Hicks seems to be dark and obscene, but acts like he seriously means what he says.

I don't know if that's exactly it or not, I'm just thinking out loud here. Also, Lisa Lampanelli popped into my head while writing this, not sure why. I don't enjoy her either.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 11:38 am
@Nick Ashley,
I like some of his material, but other stuff is very dated. Ironically, the thing I like the most is his Rick Astley bit. That is a dated bit that became current again with all the Rick Rolling going on.
0 Replies
 
thegalacticemperor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 11:57 am
@Nick Ashley,
Quote:
I actually think he reminds me of Dennis Leary, another comedian whose material I rarely enjoy.

I also rarely enjoy Leary.
Quote:
Bill Hicks seems to be dark and obscene, but acts like he seriously means what he says.

I think he did mean what he said and that is part of the draw for me...probably because I agree with most of it...
Quote:
The Aristocrats joke is as crude as you can possibly be, but it turns out the joke is the fact the you made someone listen to 5 minutes of disgusting filth for no reason, with no punchline at all really. And that, to me, is funny.

I never did find humor in the Aristocrats bit. I guess there really is no accounting for taste Wink
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 03:47 pm
not any more.

and i think bill would agree.
0 Replies
 
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 04:10 pm
Bill Hicks is one of the best comedians ever. His material was so much deeper than the average comedian, and he viciously attacked some of the most controversial topics out there. He also hated other comedians that did mainstream comedy. He thought of himelf as an artist, and used to refer to himself as a "dark poet" sometimes. The term fits perfectly. I think you are right that you may have been conditioned by other comedians. Bill HIcks used to actually make fun of the typical stand up act from time to time, if the audience wasn't digging his stuff.

He reminds you of Denis Leary? Yeah, that's because Leary stole half his act from the guy. You can't blame him though, if you're going to steal from someone, steal from the best.

I recommend an HBO special called "It's Just a Ride." That was the first Hicks show I ever saw, and I was totally hooked from that point on. Genius!

Look for the infamous "grey gym sock" joke. It is a perfect example of what he was all about.
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 04:13 pm
@kickycan,
By the way, putting Lewis Black in the same league with Hicks or Kinison is a sacrilege, and should be punishable by death.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 04:31 pm
@Nick Ashley,
Nick Ashley wrote:
The Aristocrats joke is as crude as you can possibly be, but it turns out the joke is the fact the you made someone listen to 5 minutes of disgusting filth for no reason, with no punchline at all really. And that, to me, is funny.

I see it differently. I see it as making fun of your audience, which I don't find funny.

IMO the entire move Pulp Fiction is the same type of thing, and I dislike it intensely for the same reason.

Nick Ashley wrote:
Bill Hicks seems to be dark and obscene, but acts like he seriously means what he says.

Dark is OK. Obscene just for the sake of being obscene just doesn't cut it for me. If a joke isn't funny then adding a slew of obscenities won't help it.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 05:08 pm
@Nick Ashley,
I agree with Kicky on this. I love Bill Hicks. In fact, when I saw the title of this thread, the first person I thought of was kicky can.

Kinneson with his screaming and yelling...a little goes a long way.
Leary....ditto....talk about anger and thinking people are stupid.

Black is really BORing. Enough with the "oy vey, poor me" stuff.

You know what gets me about a lot of comedians and characters that are popular?

The fact that so many people find them so hysterical and/or clever, but if someone acts like that in real life, no one would want to have anything to do with them.

People would rather pay to buy tickets to hear someone say stuff I'd say to them for free.

I recently watched the show "House" for the first time the other week, and have subsquently watched several episodes....yeah, he's funny, irreverant and people tune in every night to watch what sarcastic thing he's going to say next. Stuff that in real life would have cost him his medical license.

**** fire, I say stuff her that makes me think that right now I'm on 95% of A2Kers Ignore list....at least I can't seem to get in a conversation with anyone anymore.

But if I was Bill Kennison, hell, I'd have a fan club.

I think my personality is more like Bill Hicks anyway.
0 Replies
 
Nick Ashley
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 05:28 pm
@kickycan,
Quote:
His material was so much deeper than the average comedian

Hmm, what is an example of some deep material? So far I've seen him make fun of other famous people (Rick Astley, Rush Limbaugh), and talk about stuff he cares about (like smoking) while spouting alot of obscenities. Nothing too 'deep'. Let alone the fact the 'deeper' doesn't equal 'more humorous' and for me anyways, 'humor' is one of the only things that determine if a comedian is good (along with weather or not he steals material, and stuff like that).

Quote:
He also hated other comedians that did mainstream comedy. He thought of himelf as an artist

That's nice.. but doesn't say anything of how good he was.

Quote:
Bill HIcks used to actually make fun of the typical stand up act from time to time, if the audience wasn't digging his stuff.

To me that sounds like an un-successful comedian being upset that he isn't successful. Not saying that is the case, but it's what I picture when you say that.
Nick Ashley
 
  2  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 05:38 pm
@DrewDad,
DrewDad wrote:

Obscene just for the sake of being obscene just doesn't cut it for me. If a joke isn't funny then adding a slew of obscenities won't help it.


I disagree. For me, weather a not a joke is funny is based on lots of factors, such as underlying message, delivery, and phrasing used to explain the joke. Obscenities fall into the phrasing. Adding obscenities doesn't automatically make a joke funny, but sometimes the fact that there are obscenities is what makes the joke funny.

Louis CK pops into my mind as an example. When he refers to his 5 year old daughter as "an asshole" or his "shitty kid" its really funny (IMHO). If he were to refer to his daughter as "annoying" or "an inconsiderate toddler" it wouldn't be nearly as funny.

I feel that curse words are a great tool for comedians. (although they aren't a magic wand)
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 06:10 pm
I'll have to go check some of this out. I remember, or think I remember, others at a2k liking Hicks.. thinking maybe Cav? Patiodog? and Kicky.
Me, I haven't paid thaaat much attention to comedy lately. I did see Woopie Goldberg and Sam Kinnison one night at a club on the sunset strip, might have been in the late seventies. Neither of them was Pryor... I was sort of neutral/1+ re her, and couldn't stand Kinnison. Wonder what I'd think now...
0 Replies
 
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 07:19 pm
@Nick Ashley,
Nick Ashley wrote:

Quote:
His material was so much deeper than the average comedian

Hmm, what is an example of some deep material? So far I've seen him make fun of other famous people (Rick Astley, Rush Limbaugh), and talk about stuff he cares about (like smoking) while spouting alot of obscenities. Nothing too 'deep'. Let alone the fact the 'deeper' doesn't equal 'more humorous' and for me anyways, 'humor' is one of the only things that determine if a comedian is good (along with weather or not he steals material, and stuff like that).

Quote:
He also hated other comedians that did mainstream comedy. He thought of himelf as an artist

That's nice.. but doesn't say anything of how good he was.

Quote:
Bill HIcks used to actually make fun of the typical stand up act from time to time, if the audience wasn't digging his stuff.

To me that sounds like an un-successful comedian being upset that he isn't successful. Not saying that is the case, but it's what I picture when you say that.


I understand. If you don't think he's funny, then you don't think he's funny. What can I say? People have different tastes. I think he was hilarious. A lot of people hated him. He's not for everyone. As for deep, I just meant that he would take on big complicated issues that most comedians wouldn't touch, like the war in Iraq, government and religious hypocrisy, abortion, and the JFK assassination, and rip them apart with razor-sharp logic and a viciously skewed imagination in such a way so as to produce guffaws and belly-laughs.

And you are right about Hicks not being successful. In the USA he wasn't very popular for most of his career. He only got what moderate success he had at the very end of his life.

As for him just being funny, here's a clip of him telling one of my favorite jokes ever. Give it a try and see what you think.

Nick Ashley
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Oct, 2008 09:23 pm
@kickycan,
Thank you Kicky!!!

I loved it. Thanks for taking the time to find the video. The whole thing was awesome. The joke was funny, the delivery was great, I wouldn't change a thing.

I enjoyed the reference to Gallagher as well.

He looked younger there then in other videos I've seen. If that's the case, perhaps I should be looking at more of his earlier work. In any case, you have convinced me that its worth watching more of his material, and seeing what I can find.
 

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