We’ve just passed the seventeenth anniversary of the death of Bill Hicks, and in memoriam I’d like to present the trailer for American: The Bill Hicks Story. This documentary chronicles the life of one of America’s most unlikely comedic stars — Bill Hicks wasn’t so much a stand-up comic as a commentator and cultural critic. He pushed stand-up to the point almost of metaphysical inquiry, but could also rant in a way that would teach even the craziest street-corner preacher a thing or two. Watch the trailer after the break.
I wasn’t introduced to Bill Hicks until after his death from pancreatic cancer in 1994; I discovered his material through the few officially-released recordings and a great many bootlegs. There’s a line that points from Lenny Bruce through Richard Pryor and George Carlin, and right to Bill Hicks. As he became more comfortable on stage his act developed into something that was more about seeking truth and the connections between people than anything else, only delivered with the fire of a very angry, frustrated man.
Apple has the trailer in HD.
Seventeen years after his death, Bill Hicks has taken a permanent place in the cultural landscape and is widely recognized as one of the greatest American comedians of the modern era. Described as many things – philosopher, social satirist, even preacher – Hicks was ultimately a performer who, for many, changed what comedy could be. He believed that comedy played a vital role in any free and just society, and that the comedian, a free spirit detached from political or corporate agendas, was able to voice what others wouldn’t, challenging convention and presenting ideas that would stimulate the minds of the audiences. Hicks had no difficulty making people laugh- but what he really wanted to do was make them think. His life tragically cut short at the age of 32, Hicks’ timeless material lives on, revered today by both comedians (many who cite him as an influence) and fans alike. Hicks’ remarkable journey is brought to life in the documentary feature AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY. Combining revealing new interviews from those who knew him best with a bold new photographic animation technique, AMERICAN takes the audience inside Hicks’ unfolding life story using archival footage and animated photographs, many from Hicks’ personal collection and previously unseen. It’s a film that innovates, inspires, and outrages- while being funny as hell in the process.
Here’s a full version of the rant that ends the trailer:
And here’s the positive drug story: