Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Love All The People by Bill Hicks

It was, to put it simply: invigorating to read this book.

To anyone who isn't familiar with the work of Mr Hicks: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!? YouTube him STAT.

Born in 1961 and dying an untimely death from cancer at just 32 years old, Bill Hicks was a significant American comedian in the 80s and early 90s. He didn't really achieve recognition in his home country until close to the end of his life, and even then he wasn't celebrated as much as he was in Britain, where they seemed to 'get' his unique irony & savage style from the start.

Love All The People is a collection of his transcribed routines, letters, production proposals & interviews; sequenced by date. It takes you on a journey through his mind, really. Despite there being a lot of repetition (in that lots of his shows he repeated the same jokes he had previously used) it worked only to cement his progression into my mind from angry, hilarious boy into spiritual, hilarious man. In 1993, shortly before his death, Hicks was scheduled to appear on David Letterman's late night show, but after having recorded his bit (to a very receptive audience, by all accounts) he was cut out completely at the last minute before the show went to air. It was the first time a comedian's entire routine had been censored after taping, and Hicks was outraged. It was supposedly due to the controversial nature of his religious jokes (which funnily enough, by today's standards, are mostly quite tame), although both the producers of the Letterman show & the CBS Network officials denied responsibility for the censorship, pointing the finger at one another.

I felt as though this collection of writing helped me get to know Hicks and where he was coming from. Sure, some of his material was harsh, brash, crass & savage – but his aim was always to make people laugh, and to make them think. To bring the Truth to light: that our world is an illusion, that our governments are false, and that if we used our collective resources to educate the poor & feed the hungry, there need never be another war again. His vision of what the world could be was beautiful, and he used comedy & laughter to show his audiences that. Get to know him, you won't regret it!

"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks

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