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Black Sky Thinking

Why I Hate The Cult Of Bill Hicks, By John Doran
John Doran , February 20th, 2013 07:56

Based on a piece originally written for the dear departed Plan B magazine in 2007. With thanks to my then commissioning editors Frances Morgan and Kicking_K

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During a short Summer break to see my family in the North West last year, when I had slightly more time on my hands than usual, I was having a 'discussion' with some impassioned young people on the internet. During the course of the debate (I'd had cause to dress down an aspirant writer in private for sexism - a conversation which had then been made public by him) talk turned briefly to the quality of my own writing and whether I was qualified to give advice to other people.

One young firebrand with a palpable thunder in his chest suggested that a live review I wrote about Kanye West was "the worst thing ever written by an adult" and that I was a terrible writer (a view point I actually have some sympathy for).

When challenged by other members of the DiS community he cited as evidence the fact that there was a Bill Hicks YouTube embedded into the piece, and that I must be likening myself to the dead comic. And this is when my normally serene nature became violently discombobulated for a short time.

(The piece was one of the first I ever wrote for The Quietus and was built in the early days by our then Production Editor Tom Milway, a lovely man with a penchant for plaid shirts, country rock and quoting Hicks. It seems strange that when we first started the Quietus I couldn't even work out how to operate my own site.)

You can say what you like about my writing, it's probably true. You can say that I'm fat, ugly and bearded, this much is certainly true. You can libel me in anyway you see fit as long as you don't call me a bad father and don't suggest that I'm a Bill Hicks fan.

I don't just dislike Hicks. I fucking hate him. Let me explain why.

When Channel 4 showed Revelations in 1992, it really was the moment that Bill Hicks started his painfully slow climb towards canonisation. The hour long special had been carefully edited down to appeal to the sensibilities of C4’s then core audience. It toned down the laddish, sexist elements of his act, thus amping up (the admittedly brilliant) attacks on the Gulf War and the rise of the Christian right. Due to a trick of presentation he became a figure who effortlessly straddled the nascent new lad scene and the still strong culture of political correctness. But what would make anyone outright hate Hicks?

Well, for me it wasn’t the fact that he was a pot head and in thrall to imbecilic conspiracy theories. His ravings about the Warren Commission make you realise that if he were around today part of his routine would be a swivel-eyed diatribe about 9/11 and who was really responsible for the towers coming down, not to mention chem trails. It's no wonder he's become an internet idiot's poster boy. (At the end of Revelations, check how he gets ‘shot’ by an assassin because his truth was, y’know, too heavy for the government . . .)

It wasn’t the latent paedophilia he aspired to, no doubt inspired by his heroes from the world of 70s rock. ("Why do you like young girls Goat Boy?" "Because there’s nothing between your legs. It’s like cotton candy framing a paper cut. I’m going to turn you over and spread your cheeks. It’s like a pink, quivering rabbit nostril.") Oh, my sides.

It’s not that he was a disgusting hippy. A fucking horrific libertarian no better in his politics of the self than Jeremy Clarkson or Frank Turner. Meaning the angry desire was there for him to protect his right to do whatever he wanted to do, whenever he wanted to do it, whether it be smoking cigarettes in public buildings and on planes, driving drunk, taking drugs no matter the ill effect they had on anyone else using, having access to hardcore pornography and violent movies or anything else his venality craved. All of this was to be at the expense of children, old people and parents if necessary and . . . Well, and what? I must have missed his sketches about union rights for immigrant workers. I mean, for Christ sake, Michael Moore is a level-headed, even-handed Marxist revolutionary stood next to Hicks.

It’s not that he was a drivelling thunder cunt. ("All matter is energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves." And that crap about life being a fairground ride. How can anyone listen to this vacuous bullshit without developing a migraine?)

It’s not because of the rampant misogyny. (Actually, even though it kicks a hole in the side of what I’m saying, it actually is the rampant misogyny. The sketch where he summoned the ghost of Hendrix up to rape Debbie Gibson to death for making pop - aka phony music for girls and gay people - is a prime example. And this coming from a guy whose favourite bands were the utterly merit free KISS and the massively overrated Alice Cooper.) The butt of his jokes (above and beyond the absolutely deserving Christian right and Republicans, etc) were usually working class women, mothers, young children and the very old. Kind of weird. Kind of creepy. And you can't even play the 'it's just a joke' card in his defence. He was like this in real life. Take this classless put down of a female heckler for example: "You suck - you fucking cunt, get the fuck outa here right now. Get out. Fuck you. Fuck you, you idiot. You're everything that America should be flushed down the toilet, you fucking turd. Fuck you. Get out. Get out, you fucking drunk bitch. Take her out! Take her fucking out. Take her to somewhere that's good. Go see fucking Madonna, you fucking idiot piece of shit. [imitating her] 'You suck, Bill, you suck. I can yell at the comedian cause I'm a drunk cunt. That gives me carte blanche, I got a cunt, and I'm drunk, I can do anything I want. I dont have a cock, I can yell at performers, cause I'm a fucking idiot, cause I got a cunt.'"

My hatred for him is not because of his weak and cowardly misanthropy. "Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever. Kill 'em all Adolf, all of 'em - Jew, Mexican, American, White - Kill 'em all! Start over, the experiment didn't work! Rain - forty days please, fuckin' rain and wash these turds off my fuckin' life - wash these human waste of flesh and bones off this planet. I pray to you God to kill these fuckin' people." Note the use of the phrase "my life": Hicks most certainly did not see himself as part of the problem. His narcissism allowed him to believe steadfastly in the kind of daydream that most of us realise is bogus by the time we're 13: if only everyone was like me - then there would be no trouble on the planet at all...

It's not because love for Bill Hicks in the UK was predicated on a slightly risible bias against Americans. Too many people on this side of the Atlantic had such a skewed view of the US that they genuinely allowed themselves to believe that only we were sophisticated enough to "get" his "radical" and "subversive" polemic; that he was such a "visionary" that he was too "dangerous" for his native land. (An idea aggressively played on by Hicks, who embarrassingly insisted on presenting himself as a martyr/messiah figure: Christ returned as a stand up comic to modern day America. An idea taken to its logical conclusion by John Niven in the novel The Second Coming.) We flattered ourselves a little bit too much. Culturally, the idea of a white comic as rock star has only washed in the UK over the last 25 years. The idea is seen as a bit lame in the States. There was literally an audience of tens of millions of people in America who felt exactly the same way that he did about the Bush dynasty, so it would be more correct to presume that they didn't take to him because they weren't as keen on jokes painting working class women having babies out of wedlock as stupid, venal sluts who couldn't keep their legs closed.

No, my problem with Bill Hicks is he’s become the Diana Spencer of stand up comedy, and each badly packaged CD and crappily subbed book makes wilder claims for him than the last. The canonisation has taken a good comedian who was slightly ahead of the curve and tried to make something religous out of him. The trouble is, however, that if you look to a comedian for humour, you get laughs; look to one for moral, spiritual and political guidance and you get a fucking joke.

Tony Lazarus
Feb 20, 2013 1:05pm

John, I loved that article. I THINK I may have read the original back in the day, but to be fair it was in my drinking days, and if you remember the noughties, then, hey ...

You've pretty much nailed my own feelings about the canonisation of Bill Hicks - and, as with Jesus, and Diana for that matter, the problem is not Him but His followers. Cults, all of them.

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Gordon Hill
Feb 20, 2013 1:12pm

Some good points well made, John. The deification of Bill Hicks is rather over the top. This kind of thing seems to be rather endemic of a gifted artist who dies young though. It's quite difficult though to successsfully skewer him on some of his more questionable material since it's whole raison d'etre was to cross the line of taste and political correctness. An edgy comedian's job despite the odious whiff of mysogyny and rather sour homphobia. He was not a happy man, his misanthropy just fuelling his machine gun of bile. Some of it brilliant, some of it crass. Good article.

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Dan
Feb 20, 2013 1:14pm

Well... it was either him or Sam Kinison.

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Ben
Feb 20, 2013 1:37pm

Some of his routines were pretty homophobic too. See, for example, the 'famous' Letterman slot that got cut.

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Debbie
Feb 20, 2013 1:41pm

Got to love the irony in taking someone down for misogyny literally just after calling them a cunt.

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Feb 20, 2013 1:44pm

yeah and the problem with british people is that they feel they need to hate and point fingers at people who have what they see as offensive points of view when you should be doing the opposite. hold yourselves up to the litmus test and i bet you'll find your fucking acidic too... as for comedians, who gives a fucking shit, they succeed in making you depressed thats all they have ever done, well done john.

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Rich-T
Feb 20, 2013 1:49pm

Personally, I like Hicks, but I came at him with no real frame of reference - just that he was a comedian unlike any other I'd heard or seen. I didn't realise he had such a rabid following.

Some really good points & observations in this article though. Even though I do like him, reading more about him & listening to many gigs - you uncover things that make you doubt him & really questioning his legacy and personality; His set was morphed and perfected slowly over decades of touring but it really didn't change much. When you compare that to the big comedians like Eddie Izzard who have several entirely different full sets, it does seem a bit weak.

His 'Counts of the Netherworld' that he was planning to film for Channel 4, the scripts and outlines are in "Love All the People" book, seems embarrassingly elitist and pretentious. It does make you realise how he very much thought himself an intellectual. No chance Billy boy!

He undoubtedly shouldn't be the idol people have made him out to be. He's a comedian; no more, no less.

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James
Feb 20, 2013 2:24pm

“Oh sorry, I was taking life seriously.” ― Bill Hicks

You should hand this article out at the Portlandia Feminist Bookstore. Printed on Gluten-free paper, of course.

I hate to be a jerk, John, though I'm sure you expected me.

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Dan Bordello
Feb 20, 2013 2:27pm

In reply to Debbie:

It all depends on the intent of the word, surely? Calling Bill Hicks a cunt doesn't mean that vaginas are therefore inherently bad: cunt is just a good word to insult someone with, in the same way that if he'd written "Fuck Bill Hicks" it wouldn't imply a desire to actually perform an act of necrophilia. It's all context. John was right to call Hicks a misogynist and closet conservative. The bizarre conspiracy theory that Bill Hicks is alive and well and living as Alex Jones doesn't look so bizarre when you actually look at Hicks act (although it's still utterly stupid).

A point on the paedophilia in his work: if Hicks was really the iconoclast he claimed to be, why didn't Goatboy fantasise about attractive young boys, too? That's just as messed up as fantasising about little girls but, I mean, Goatboy's just a character, right, and if we're going down the shock value route then that'd work too. He was a deeply flawed comic and I like some of his work but the posthumous canonisation of the man is ridiculous. Especially considering he just did the same act over and over again.

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John Doran
Feb 20, 2013 2:30pm

In reply to Debbie:

The use and meaning of cunt as a pejorative differs wildly between the States and the UK. Watch The Sopranos for example when it's only ever used by maffiosi characters about women. American usage is clearly misogynist. Fair play if you don't like the use of the word but we'll have to agree to disagree if you think it has intrinsically misogynist content when used against a man. (I've never used this word in any context other than to describe a man I dislike intensely for moral reasons.) It differs from a word like gash (comparing female genitals to a violent wound) and doesn't, as far as I can tell have any intrinsic positive or negative values, in terms of what the etymology of the word actually means. (It comes from the Old English cwmb, or valley.) Anyway, no offence was intended but I disagree with what you're suggesting.

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Feb 20, 2013 2:50pm

In reply to John Doran:

Didn't put it too well in my first comment but with Hicks it comes down to this (for me anyway): if you're going to try to be shocking, do it properly and say something genuinely out there instead of reiterating hoary old conservative attitudes with a sprinkling of new age babble. I think the comments about "handing this article out on gluten-free paper" and the like (only one so far but there'll be more) miss this point - for a lot of Hicks detractors the problem isn't that he's offensive but that he's not offensive or brave enough. There's artists like Boyd Rice, Kathy Acker, Jerry Sadowitz, Dennis Cooper, Jamie Stewart even, etc. on one hand and then there's a good ol' Southern boy complaining about how faggy pop music is.

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grit bin
Feb 20, 2013 2:50pm

All of this is true... had it been written about George Carlin.

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Rooksby
Feb 20, 2013 2:52pm

Hicks can hardly be held responsible for his own posthumous deification, can he?

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Naboo
Feb 20, 2013 2:56pm

It's your problem, you pay attention to this packaging of B.H. that is this "Cult".

He used the right of speech to the extreme, he knew he was going for not very welcoming easy laughs audience. And yes, british loved all that mockery of US foreign affairs. Who doesn't love throwing stones next door ?

Just don't fucking see point bringing this up, at this point. There simply won't be a valid conversation. And thanks for that, with society where everyone's overwatched, overanalyzed and overemphasized.

My point - "“Oh sorry, I was taking life seriously.” ― Bill Hicks"

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John Doran
Feb 20, 2013 2:56pm

In reply to Rooksby:

The piece is about the Cult Of Hicks. And yeah, he can be blamed for it as he purposefully presented himself as a martyr/messiah figure.

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Feb 20, 2013 3:09pm

In reply to John Doran:

John, I think you took the martyr/messiah figure thing way too seriously. He was anti-martyr, messiah and ego. I can't help but think the irony of his act was lost on you.

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Rooksby
Feb 20, 2013 3:17pm

In reply to John Doran:

Bill Hicks = disagreeable misogynistic homophobe with a messiah complex.

Mr. Agreeable = "ironic".

Amazing scenes!

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Feb 20, 2013 3:52pm

Thank for this, John. Better to NOT lsiten to Bill Hicks for all sorts of reasons than to listen 5 seconds to garbage like My Bloody Valentine or fucking Bowie-- and I mean that sincerely.

In case any pf you Limeys want to rock again like you used to-- very well, I might add-- check this out from Philly--

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJLlB-LUSaM

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John A.
Feb 20, 2013 4:01pm

Just wondering, as a frame of reference, who John might think is a comic worthy of adulation?

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Feb 20, 2013 4:20pm

My favorite part is how you got compared to a comedian you don't like, then took the time to write a pissy little article demonizing him. Congrats, you don't enjoy the material that one man made for people with a different sense of humor than you.

"..having access to hardcore pornography...all of this at the expense of children". THINK OF THE CHILDREN! THE CHILDREN! Jesus, that's really how you're trying to pander to people? How the fuck does any of that come "at the expense of children"? Did he shoot up at elementary schools? Everything you wrote is very eloquently put, and I commend you for that, but you're really reaching on a lot of this.

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Charlie F
Feb 20, 2013 4:23pm

Great stuff. Always found Hicks and the people who love him just a bit irksome and could never quite pinpoint why.

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Chris
Feb 20, 2013 4:23pm

So you hate the cult Of Bill Hicks because he became / is becoming a cult? And it took you how many hundreds of words to express this?
Ha ha ha ha. That's the way this canonisation thing rolls.

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James
Feb 20, 2013 5:02pm

In reply to John Doran:

I liked this article, but using cunt as an pejorative gives the word its negative value, regardless of the etymology, target or context. How could it not be misogynistic?

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oliver wolf
Feb 20, 2013 5:50pm

I never normally responded to these things. But this got my back up a little. Personally, Bill Hicks is one of the most inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of listened to.

He spoke from the heart about the state of the country he was touring in the 90's.

A country that was dangerously narrow minded and arguably repressed through the media channels that sadly still exist today.

Bill, through drugs or whatever he did off stage was able to have a more objective view of the country and of life. An important option that was not being expressed at the time by any traditional comics or public speakers in any media it seemed.

His views where hard hitting, yet, he was able to articulate through his skill and craft around the art of stand up. (And it is a craft. I’ve done it. Fuck me it is hard to be that good about things so serious.) And still be funny.

Thus becoming more of a preacher that a comic. The way in which he talks about the world being a "just a ride" or the point he makes about how we are "all just matter vibrating at a slow frequency" as a teen first made me think a little more about life, which I’m very grateful for. In my option Bill took comedy to a place that tested his audiences. For the better. It bordered on the spiritual that made you think about the world in a more profound level then most comics ever do today.

Yes. He was crude. Yes he was honest about his views on the US government. And YES he described fucking young pop stars. BUT Comedy is an act. And Bill was an act. But it was an act that that made you laugh and really think at the same time. Which sadly I don’t think the likes of Michael Macintyre will ever have capacity of doing. Bill was a legend and his death at such a young age was not just a sad loss to comedy but to the world. And as you can see I wont have a bad word said about him John! ☺

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tristan eldritch
Feb 20, 2013 5:51pm

Never really been that much of Hicks fan - always found something a bit icky about him. Some of the points in this piece are legitimate, but some of them are flat out dopey. As far as the Warren Commission is concerned, regarding all conspiracy theories as equally false is as dumb and divorced from reality as the most woolly headed 9 11 truther. Betrand Russell wasn't convinced by the Warren Report, and neither were most intelligent people who actually studied the case.

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Adam
Feb 20, 2013 6:09pm

Rather than spew fatuous rubbish like "imbecilic conspiracy theories" and "ravings about the Warren Commission", perhaps the author should get his arse down to Horsham and educate himself: http://www.ae911truth.org/en/news-section/41-articles/711-historic-case-to-challenge-bbcs-911-coverage.html. And what is a "level-headed, even-handed Marxist revolutionary"?

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David Gaines
Feb 20, 2013 6:13pm

*cue the baseball stadium music*

"John Doran steps up to the plate... Oh! Swing and a miss!"

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PDitta
Feb 20, 2013 6:34pm

Standard contrarian, "Define myself by my opposition to what I perceive to be mainstream opinion"

I've read some competent critiques of Hicks; this wasn't one of them

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David Ohlsen
Feb 20, 2013 6:46pm

Mr. Doran, it seems like you take yourself, and life, very, very seriously. You are so certain about what's right & wrong that you think everyone else should live by your definitions. Even if you don't agree with Bill, can you acknowledge that when you make someone laugh, it is a tremendous gift, and when you crap on that person, you crap on that gift? You think people have to agree with comedians to enjoy their performances? What about George Carlin's "Kill em All" rants during his last performances? What about Louie CK's brutal handling of hecklers? What about Paul Mooney's conspiracy theories? Should we ignore these individuals, too, John?
Comedy is a matter of perspective, not truth. Bill gives you the perspective of a man who grew up in Texas in the 70's & 80's and he is trying to escape the mindset a place like that instilled in him. Though I don't tend to like his more extreme, later material, his earlier material was a blessing of hope and humor in my teenage years. Yes, I know how people frequently become bias supporters of anything that came into their early lives, but to write Bill off for EVERYONE just because Bill is too dark for YOU is a cold, simplistic move.
I cringe all the time when listening to comedy. Jim Norton once said his favorite sound is disgust turing into applause. Think, what's worse- encountering a POV like Bill's in real life for the first time, which could perhaps be uncomfortable, or having Bill prepare you for POV's like that, so that you could properly laugh & shrug it off when the time comes.
Bill's ego did get very inflated to counter-act his depression, but he brought more insight & hope to my generation than countless political figures did. He never stopped struggling, never stopped asking people to question authority and find their own truth. He believed that humans had the capacity to build a better world than the one we live in, and I don't think his ideas about sex could ever overshadow that.

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Nik
Feb 20, 2013 6:50pm

Wow! What? Comedians are flawed, imperfect human beings? Critics like John Doran of course - immaculate beings who just respond in negative condemnatory tones (20 years too late) to those who had the balls to get up there & do it. Any idiot can write some lame, lazy critique on the internet (ooh look! I'm doing it now...)

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Nik
Feb 20, 2013 6:55pm

In reply to Nik:

I expect the Hicks-like Doug Stanhope - currently & fashionably lauded by The Quietus - will be critically savaged (once he's been conveniently and safely deceased for 20 years of course...)

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Laura
Feb 20, 2013 8:25pm

An interesting article. However John, rather presumptuous of you to assume that Bill would have made no changes to his lifestyle and material nearly 30 years later - all comedians mature as they develop. I agree the Goatboy material was vile, but honestly think the rest of his material was good and didn't consider him to be a misogynist. Clearly, his material was delivered best when he was in a fit state to be on a stage and there were times when he shouldn't have been performing and couldn't cope with hecklers. Bill Hicks was far from perfect. Some material was dire - esp. Goat Boy. He was flawed, but extremely funny and - clearly - memorable. RIP.

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Laura
Feb 20, 2013 8:27pm

In reply to David Ohlsen:

Couldn't agree more.

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thandy botswana
Feb 20, 2013 8:48pm

what utter guff

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gary
Feb 20, 2013 8:55pm

I normally find really well written and thought-out stuff on the Quietus, but this was really disappointing. I'm aware of a small group of Hicks fans that go around quoting him all the time and making a mockery of his name and work, but a lot of these accusations of 'moron conspiracy theorist' and 'misogynist' to the man himself are pretty daft. John Doran, you may be right. I don't think Bill Hicks is for you. Carry on.

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Chris
Feb 20, 2013 8:56pm

In reply to thandy botswana:

That's John "arch self publicist" Doran for you.

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Bert Wardlow
Feb 20, 2013 8:58pm

I don't recall Bill Hicks advocating drunk driving in Revelations.

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Chris Q.
Feb 20, 2013 9:16pm

Write from your f***ing heart!!!

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Sean K
Feb 20, 2013 10:54pm

In reply to John Doran:

Yeah, way to go JD you really nailed it. I also find it appalling when someone simply vents their hatred and then pretends its done from some kind of moral perspective or vision... oh wait. Seriously though, this isn't your best writing - you sound like a right on sixth-form student. And while I'm at it, can I just point out that hatred is just the flipside of loving something. It's identification just as much as adoration is. Notice how we feel our identity most strongly when we vent against that which we are not (just check out how sure of themselve the EDL appear to be)... so just to clarify, John Doran is none of the things he accuses Bill Hicks of being... which sadly also includes funny, or right.

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Feb 20, 2013 11:43pm

In reply to Sean K:

...nor is Mr Doran guilty of the Hicksian traits of aiming cheap controversial shots or recycling old material.... oops, I did it again...

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matt
Feb 21, 2013 12:00am

what is thequietus and who is john doran?

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Benno
Feb 21, 2013 12:20am

So you spend 90% of the article giving him a right slagging and then call him "a good comedian" in the last paragraph.

And lets be honest, the article isn't really about your hatred of the cult of Hick's is it.

This feels like professional trolling to me. Did you want to drive up traffic to the site? Plenty of comments though so job well done.

And why the need to stand up for america/americans? They need defending?

Maybe I've misunderstood? Maybe I'm just too dumb to get the point you are trying to make? I'm pretty tired to be fair, but really......

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Paul
Feb 21, 2013 12:24am

In reply to Sean K:

John, I have a sneaky suspicion that you don't hate BH at all. In fact, I think you see a little bit of yourself in the 'Dark Poet', if the truth be known. I mean, why would you use Hicks' brilliant marketing routine to illustrate your encounter with the Vodafone guy in your Kayne West feature if you hate Hicks as vehemently as you say in the above? I'll confess, I am a fan of Hicks, have been for a long time. I was just discussing him with an American friend only last week about how Hicks would view the world today if he were still alive. It's only a guess, but I don't think he would be spouting the garbage of the 9/11 'truth movement', he was far to clever and politically astute to fall for crap like that. I'll not bang on about Hicks as some of your other posters have already said what needed to be said, but I must say one more thing, you do look like a bit of an old hippie to me! ; )

On another note. I looked you up on the net after seeing your Johnny Marr interview on YouTube earlier, which I thought was great. I ran your name through goog and landed here. Despite seeing your rant in A minor on the front page, I've bookmarked your site and I look forward to reading more.

Cheers and all the best!

p

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Steve Hicks
Feb 21, 2013 12:31am

So you won't be joining the fan club then?

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Steve Hicks
Feb 21, 2013 12:31am

So you won't be joining the fan club then?

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Johnny Lobster
Feb 21, 2013 12:58am

The tirade against the female audience member started as an angry outburst towards a heckler talking thoughout his act. What Doran neglected to mention is that Hicks mocks himself afterwards stating ' I'm available for kid's shows' and more. If this article is an attempt at " Ironic " anti-humour then it succeeds admirably at being unfunny in an ironic way. To be more blunt it IS a terrible piece of writing aimed at drawing attention to the miserable and untalented narcissist who wrote it.

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Rob Parnell
Feb 21, 2013 1:02am

I'm one of those British people who absolutely loved Bill Hicks. He was a comedian. He doesn't have to be consistent. He doesn't even have to care whether what he says is true or it's what he genuinely feels. Being a comic is about making people laugh and making people think - with humor, irony, courage and finesse - all things he did brilliantly. He's sorely missed me by me for one.

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Enna
Feb 21, 2013 1:15am

As a big Bill Hicks fan ever since seeing him on Montreal comedy festival back when he was still alive I have to say I can't disagree with anything John has said.

I do have times when I wish he was still around - mostly because at most there's only about two hours of material across all those releases, the rest is just a different performance of the same material - but you may well be right about the nature of material he'd be doing these days.

The Goatboy shit was uncomfortable the first time I watched it and it doesn't get any easier. In my first week of lectures at university one of our lecturers used a couple of his second-year students to set up a scene in which he kicked them out a lecture in order to prove that, when people were unsure of how to react in a given situation they were prone to nervous laughter. I always for the impression that that was very possibly the case with the Goatboy material.

All of the books on him paint him out to have been an insufferable arse, drunken or otherwise (other than maybe towards the end), so it's odd seeing people defend his honour, when he didn't really seem to have that much of it at the time anyway. If we're going to do 'but Bill said this or said that' it's worth remembering that part of his schtick was to question opinion and beliefs, and his own shouldn't be exempt from that.

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James
Feb 21, 2013 1:25am

This piece is so off base and full of hate it's a new low for this website.

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Casey
Feb 21, 2013 2:17am

Absolutely the worst article I've read on this site, or any other, in quite some time. What a shame.

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Ryan
Feb 21, 2013 2:53am

Hmmmm. The article does not address the "Cult" of Bill Hicks. Just the man. Maybe you should write another piece and try not to get worked up in your hate. Nothing wrong with being a little bit angry at the world, or drunk people, christians or Republicans. Nothing wrong with having some "crazy views" ( like the world being round).
I like Bill Hicks, I like his rants and I didn't mind his at times Full on abuse at people based on any number of PC elements.
I admire his freedom of speech, and I quite frankly don't mind the abuse of someone as a "cunt", especially since the did seem to be one.

Sadly this article seems to be more of a rant. At least in Bill's rants he was more entertaining.

I would encourage you to write this one again on the CULT, not the man.

Good Luck.

NZ

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Brent
Feb 21, 2013 3:03am

Bill was not a pot head. His friends are on record saying Bill tried weed a few times and every time he felt like he was in "hell." He just thought it was a joke that it was illegal.

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Grondy
Feb 21, 2013 3:47am

Firstly, the title of John Doran's ill-judged screed is slightly misleading. An article on the faults of Hicks' canonization would have been far more interesting than this biased diatribe against a dead comic.

Secondly, Hicks rose to fame during the filthy back-swill of the late 80's early 90's, when the plasticity of modern culture was all too evident. His raging voice was a staunch howl against the vacuity of this culture. A voice like his is sorely missed today.

Yes, he could be described as immature; however, the man died at 33. It's a cheap shot to have a go at him given the fact that no one can predict what kind of comic he would have grown into. If every twenty something male were to be judged for life on certain actions we'd all be permanently shamefaced. And he was, by his own admission, a lousy drunk (as is perfectly illustrated in the 'drunken cunt' rant). To lump Hicks in with the 'lad culture' is simply ridiculous and reveals the author's ignorance of the subject he claims to hate.

Judging on the amount of feedback here, I suspect Mr. Doran has achieved his aim: attention for the true narcissist. He would do well to work on his own scantily clad literary ambitions whereby music criticism is elevated to preposterous heights (case in point: see review of L. Pierre's latest album).

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Public Opinion
Feb 21, 2013 4:28am

Youre a fuckwit john.

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Mark Ashburner
Feb 21, 2013 7:05am

In reply to John Doran:

You do realise that Hicks has been dead for well over 20 years don't you? I find it so fucking weird how much "hate" you have for people enjoying and honoring a dead comedian, it's even more hilarious that Bill is still offending idiots like you from beyond the grave 2 decades later. In fact I don't get why people get offended at all these days, simply because you have the fucking choice to either enjoy watching Bill Hick's comedy or not. The fact that you went on a whole hateful diatribe about the man simply because he has a cult following 20 years after his death makes you sound like an elitist geeky cunt of a human being - In fact you kind of remind me of that fat comic nerd in the Simpsons. Also spare everyone your "hipster" moral standards as well, do you not know the difference between reality and a comedy act? All the vile material was part of Bill's routine, it's what made Hicks into Hicks! Do you get offended by Stephen King too and should we all cuddle each other and sing kumbaya? In fact who in their right fucking mind would hire you as a writer because you suck at it so badly and shows with how much effort and research you did on the man by calling him a 'pot head" when the guy consistently said in interviews that he never smoked weed. You Sir suck at writing and the world would be better off without you and your embarrassing elitist writing posse. It's embarrassing because you SUCK!

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pan
Feb 21, 2013 8:05am

I can understand why someone would begin hating someone like hicks in 2013. the jokes are starting to get old and even tho they have some value today, maybe they've lost some of the valour. one thing i have to disagree is that hicks DID see himself as part of the problem, slowly killing it with cigarettes and alcohol cause thats all he knew to do.

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Lora Tadine
Feb 21, 2013 8:36am

EPIC TROLL DORAN - CONGRATS.

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Oliver
Feb 21, 2013 9:31am

Guys you are directing way too much energy at this dude. We all know Bill was a great man. Forget about arguing with him, just smile and remember you favourite bill joke or line.

Better yet, let's starting posting them..

"Hey Jackie, thinking of John" (points to pretend gun pendant hung around neck)

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joe
Feb 21, 2013 10:23am

I think you've missed the point of Hicks' sex routines. The whole set is about a twisted misanthrope commenting on what he sees as the horrific nature of contemporary society. He's injecting e.g. the Goat Boy routine bit to display the perverse affect this modern world can have on your sanity. To take the Goat Boy section so literally is Daily-Mailesque. It's not his funniest moment, but it's not sexist or misogynistic. I'm a huge fan of political correctness and of PC's poster boy Stew Lee- who his himself a Bill Hicks fan.

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Hoost
Feb 21, 2013 11:07am

John, you're retard. Add this to your resume.

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Mecha-Rigsby
Feb 21, 2013 12:01pm

I wasn't even aware people still went on about Bill Hicks - bit early 90's, no?

This piece read more like the writer...whatsisname, or thingy...trying to get his own personality across. 'As long as you don't call me a bad father' - with the greatest of respect, I couldn't give a fuck what kind of father you are or are not.

One last word on Bill Hicks - Jerry Sadowitz told me he thought he was a 'hack'.

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Christt
Feb 21, 2013 1:22pm

troll post much

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tony m
Feb 21, 2013 2:30pm

I can't stand Hick's stuff anymore - heard it all too any times. But he was still the best. If anything the article (and some of the replies) is merely coming from the school of it being "cool" not to like Bill Hicks. Which is fine if you're just sick of his material, but not for any of the reasons given above (all - ALL -of which are easily refutable).

Hicks is by many miles the funniest comedian I've ever heard and from seeing him on Just For Laughs in the early 90s all other comics have since been painful to watch. Except Jerry Sadowitz. (@Mecha-Rigsby- what did JS mean by "Hack"? A journo? Please expand)

Besides, come on, John, can you honestly say you didn't piss yourself the first time you heard those old BH routeins?

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EarlGinger
Feb 21, 2013 2:34pm

Ah i see what this is - it's the journalistic equivalent of Pooh Sticks. Uncharacteristically for TQ the Birchall transvestite article's comments section went on for weeks of fractious debate, so now each member of TQ staff takes turns to publish a controversial article to see if they can beat it for duration of reader outrage in the comments section. Fun! I look forward to the next installment. I'm thinking of writing one myself on why Radiohead are not all that...

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Sophocles
Feb 21, 2013 2:39pm

Likely scenario:
A member of the Quietus staff:
"Anyone one seen John? He's taking some real stick for that Bill Hicks article, looks like he's been found out for the ego driven narcissus that he truly is!"
"Sssssshhh, he might be hiding in that cupboard and he can hear us!"
Murmurs and sobs from aforesaid cupboard:
"Leave me alone, I hate you, I hate you all!"

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BADJOSH
Feb 21, 2013 2:54pm

You know if you play new kids on the block records backwards ............they actually sound better!

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EarlGinger
Feb 21, 2013 2:54pm

In reply to Sophocles:

Hate to be pedantic but you mean a narcissist. A narcissus is a plant - and John'd get no light to his leaves if he were in a cupboard :-)

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Sophocles
Feb 21, 2013 2:59pm

In reply to EarlGinger:

Ha ha good one! ;-)

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BADJOSH
Feb 21, 2013 3:07pm

John you are a cluless moron ! Your last statement reads

"The trouble is, however, that if you look to a comedian for humour, you get laughs; look to one for moral, spiritual and political guidance and you get a fucking joke."

Guess what ? hes a comedian, his job is telling jokes !

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Reed
Feb 21, 2013 4:39pm

He wasn't very funny either.

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nick
Feb 21, 2013 5:14pm

I really wish Bill Hicks was even 25% as funny as everyone says he is!

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Chris
Feb 21, 2013 5:22pm

In reply to Grondy:

True dat. I was thinking of the same Pierre review when reading this blog. Doran writes more about himself than the subject he is supposed to be reviewing. The Kanye West article is another example off the top of my head. Pretty shoddy narcissistic journalism which comes from the same school as Burchill - "look at me look at me, I can write, and you are all going to hear about me me me me!!!"

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lh
Feb 21, 2013 6:30pm

Great, great piece. Now every time I see your byline I think, "that's the idiot that wrote the Bill Hicks hit piece."

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leo p vicious
Feb 21, 2013 6:40pm

Hell what would comedy be if it was run by faithless dicks like this?

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Goatboy
Feb 21, 2013 6:44pm

This article is the worst thing ever written by an adult. A nobody who is jealous of a dead guy.

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lh
Feb 21, 2013 6:59pm

I mean, honestly. This is the biggest piece of shit to appear on this site since the Dopesmoker reissue review. You're just arguing with a voice in your own head rather than an actual man, made all the more convenient by the fact that he's been dead for two decades.

First off, you accuse him of being a pedophile because he made a joke about some American pop stars and a girl he was dating at the time who was, at least according to the joke in question, of age. Pretty brave to call a dead man a pedophile. I guess that's pretty bold, though, in a country without legitimate freedom of speech.

Second, you base most of your critique on his followers. As if he had much involvement in that. Your beef is with vultures like Kevin Booth who keep repackaging outtakes and best-of compilations as new albums. What evidence do you have that Bill would have done the same had he still been around?

The ultimate idiocy, though, is your assumptions about American culture. You're so sure that what he was doing wasn't revolutionary or dangerous. This was the fucking late 80s and early 90s, when people weren't saying things like this in comedy. You're used to an atmosphere where everyone gets their opinion heard on everything ad nauseum through every available social networking platform. Things weren't like that in the American south a quarter century ago. Radical left wing politics have become an acceptable part of our mainstream discourse only since Bush II or so. Before that, people rolled your eyes like you were Jello Biafra if you even questioned the media.

People accusing Bill of homophobia - what evidence do you have other than a single use of the word "faggot" aimed at a cop in a joke? Were Black Flag homophobes as well? The George Michael thing? That was pretty funny back then, when his label was still trying to sell him as a tough guy everyman.

It's all the more ironic that you trace this back to a Kanye West article. Whatever your feelings are on Kanye, acknowledging that piece of shit talentless twat in writing only serves to highlight the vapidity of the author.

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Jeff
Feb 21, 2013 7:35pm

A well-written article on a technical basis, but largely off-base. Your opinion is valid, but you don't "get it."

There's nothing worse than an intellectual who doesn't "get it" and yet develops a well-articulated opinion...

Also, re: Carlin. Whoever attacks him doesn't understand the art of comedy. His politics and opinions aside, the man is an amazing, amazing technical comedian. Read his books, not the comment threads under his YouTube videos.

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Bisson
Feb 21, 2013 7:49pm

Ehh...Well there's nothing new in this article and it will annoy fans of Bill Hicks. As a fan of Bill Hicks for me, it's toothless, but as an article it's not very well written, with mediocre research, relying on re-printing chunks of Hicks act and generally wooden-headed. It took far, far too long to actually get to why he didn't like Bill Hicks and was a bit of an anticlimax when it did. The time it took to read this, Mr Doran, is a period of my life I would like back please.

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Drink. Coke.
Feb 21, 2013 9:48pm

I hate the cult of hating the cult of Bill Hicks.

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Will Almand
Feb 21, 2013 9:50pm

Hicks wasn't a pothead, despite his pro-legalization views. I understand many don't like his comedy, but it's sad that someone who doesn't would waste time writing a pointless article like this. Going to the alter now to worship.

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Drink. Coke.
Feb 21, 2013 10:06pm

Rereading it, this piece has nothing to do with analysing the cult of Hicks, which in itself might be an interesting, if unoriginal, subject. I think you stuck that thinking on at the end then tried to reframe what is clearly an unpublishable article, a hatchet job basically, with a misleading headline. It's complete fodder for your fan boy readers; who will be first to congratulate the contrarian stance? Trouble is it's a stance built largely on ill-informed conjecture. A rant in E flat, if you like.

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Tractus
Feb 22, 2013 12:20am

I saw him live in Sheffield and he was great, some pissed bloke started on him and he stopped the bouncers from kicking him out improved for half-an-hour and turned into a comedy double act. Only act better than Sadowitz at the Dominion.

I love the Quietus for it's lack of bile opposed to the rest of this digitally depressing shite, please don't.

Robert Peel though, he was a right fucking vag, go ahead kick him in the cunt.

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bob
Feb 22, 2013 1:04am

In reply to James:

yeah. this writer is twat.

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D
Feb 22, 2013 1:33am

No.

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Dad
Feb 22, 2013 5:12am

Damn. Just found out about the Quietus when I read your Foxygen review, which was great. Well, the honeymoon period lasted all of 1 day, because now you gotta go slamming Hicks like an idiot. Damn, Quietus! "Thought you guys were different!"

But really, your review is unfair, out of touch, and it sounds needlessly bitter (something Hicks railed against). Apparently you just missed the fact that Hicks was a comedian, and most of the time he was saying shit TO BE FUNNY. For every example you cite of him saying something worthy of an eye-roll or dressing down, there is another 3 or 12 examples throughout his work where he contradicts himself and preaches the exact opposite of the accused misogyny or racism or whatever you think. Hicks was no Lisa Lampanelli, and he was no more a Sam Kinnison than I am Richard Pryor. The revolutionary thing about Bill was his "disgusting hippy" bullshit and there has never been one like him since, and there never will be.

John Doran, you hate the Cult of Bill Hicks because you need something to write about so you can make money and put food into your fat bearded face hole. You ain't foolin' me, son.

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Dad
Feb 22, 2013 5:18am

In reply to John Doran:

It's a shtick you imbecile. Every comedian has one. Done with you..

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Jenny
Feb 22, 2013 9:11am

In reply to Mecha-Rigsby:

You're the real cunt here.

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Wabalicious
Feb 22, 2013 10:18am

So you hate him because people have idolised him more since he died? You are a fucking idiot, no wonder people criticise your writing.

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JBRD
Feb 22, 2013 12:22pm

Bill Hicks fans are absolutely horrible. Reading these comments has ruined my day

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James W
Feb 22, 2013 12:45pm

In reply to JBRD:

Yep. I was pretty neutral on Bill Hicks, but the objectors to this article have convinced me to file him under Shitbeak.

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Jason
Feb 22, 2013 3:09pm

Bill Hicks was the worst comedian ever. Not funny or witty. Great article.

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Roddy
Feb 22, 2013 6:13pm

Perhaps the one thing that you may have missed...while picking holes in the skits of Bill Hicks was the "tongue in cheek" which you could VISUALLY see at several points during his performance of revelations to indicate he was not being literal!!! That is if you don't take everything everyone says in a kind of naive and literal..face value way. I just wish really,that Bill was alive to defend himself, and to be able to rebutt your fool hardy comments!!!

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Wkdmc
Feb 22, 2013 6:50pm

In reply to JBRD:

Ridiculous comment

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Roddy
Feb 22, 2013 7:05pm

In reply to Tony Lazarus:

Hey "Lazarus" your the one doing the "cannonising" Bill was a comedian and a good one!! None of his fans coined the phrase
" the cannonisation" of Bill Hicks!!! but it was people like you, listening to and reading bullshit which now is in the process of turning someone who was a decent entertainer into a hate figure!!! If you got nothing better to do than rip the back out of someone who is dead and cannot defend his own words,then say nothing at all!!!

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Paul Laird
Feb 22, 2013 10:18pm

I enjoy reading The Quietus because of articles like this. I am a fan of Bill Hicks for many reasons (his comedy being the least of them) and I disagree with almost everything John Doran has written about him. That's a good thing though. It's not good for anyone or anything to simply be golden showered with the hot piss of praise at all times...it leads to all sorts of problems. I think Bill Hicks would have loved this article, he would have read it, re-read it, thought about it and then responded in his unique way. He was, no matter what else John Doran may think about him, a thinker. A passionate, violently provocative article about a passionate and violently provocative artist; perfect.

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Mel
Feb 22, 2013 10:54pm

I don't really have much invested in Bill Hicks. His lionization after death can be off-putting, as can be his posthumous tendency to attract a certain type of superfan. I've known more than one too many of the perpetually "trying too hard to be edgy" variety that seem to obsessively identify with his act due to their own lack of balls and imagination.

That said, this is a really piss-poorly written trainwreck of an article. You have a headline that laid out a premise on which you only half-assed delivered. You started out with some decently coherent writing that then progressively devolves into a total clusterfuck of disorganized anger. It's as though as the reader I can envision you frothing at the mouth and spitting at your monitor while your fingers forcefully peck at the keyboard in your increasingly wasted frenzy.

That picture does not paint you as persuasive and is counterproductive to...whatever point...there was a point to this, right? That you were trying to make? It's like this needed revising a few more times to get some of the fat trimmed, and to maybe fortify the arguments so they come across more as a valid questioning and less like a personal vendetta.

This isn't even getting into the substance of what you're saying in the piece; it's just acknowledging your complete failure to frame your argument in a convincing manner. Of course you'll have people who feel the same as you and they feel validated in seeing someone else agrees with them. You'll also of course have people who want to slam you because they feel the opposite, and I'm sure that's been expected.

What you won't have is any one of those persons in either camp being moved by your convictions to perceive Bill Hicks or his "cult" any way differently than what they did before they read this. I would assume that's what you'd want, correct? For someone to read this and at least think on or consider what you propose?

Yeah, nobody's going to do that. You're simultaneously preaching to the choir while pissing on the parade, but what you're not doing is changing a goddamn thing anyone else thinks.

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Hardy
Feb 23, 2013 12:05am

Liked Hicks at the time, though I was a teenager which probably helped. Listened to one of his sets recently and, good god, they sounded shockingly dated and juvenile.

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sam
Feb 23, 2013 5:50am

Is the writer a second year media studies undergrad? Desperate to impress teacher with his edgy toppling of sacred cows? You say sexist like its a bad thing. You don't want to be called a cunt? Don't heckle. What's wrong with porn? And what's wrong with making fun of the christian right? Or the atheist left? Although all this proves is that i am an even worse writer than john dorran. Anf I'm atvwork ant yrying to type this shit on my phone.

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John Dee
Feb 23, 2013 5:57am

Bill Hicks deserves better than some dude writing him off based on a few quotes and a pre-determined hatred. It seemed like each paragraph was situated around a new search find off google.
It is not misogynistic to call a woman a cunt. It is misogynistic to hate women. The bit about being a pot head says volumes about you and less about him. It's 2013, can we talk about drugs with some maturity? He's a dirty hippy and has silly ideas like 'all is one'? What you quickly call 'vacuous bullshit' may be just the fanciful musings of someone who isn't a scientist. But dismissing it so quickly just stinks of you being one of those superior atheists who just can't wait to sink his teeth into any believer "lol, why are you so gullible with your dumb God?". A maddened conspiracy theorist? He talked widely on only 3 conspiracies. The killing of JFK, Waco siege and the illegality of psychedelics. You don't need to wear a tin foil hat to call these conspiracies. It's reasonable to be suspicious about these 3 things.
Hicks makes a joke mentioning Hitler and you take him literally. Need I say more?
A paedophile? You are using quotes made when pretending to be 'Randy the Goat boy' to illustrate how Hicks acted in his personal life. This is the most insulting claim of them all. The last thing is that getting shot at the end of revelation was more for the cowboy vibe than anything else. He was wearing a cowboy hat and large travel coat when he did it. It was not him going "hey, look I've totally been assasinated cuz of my edginess"
Anyway. it is true Bill Hicks has been idolized to much more than he was. But you've just used his idolized persona to dump upon his real persona. At least those who idolize him do it without finding any quote and making it sound bad, or by making uncalled rough statements (especially the one on hippies). This article was an entirely subjective dirtying of my eyes, completely self serving and I bet you smiled when you hit 'send'.

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Kev Ford
Feb 23, 2013 10:10am

Who are you to wave your finger?
So full of it.....................
Foot in mouth, and head up asshole.
Whatcha talkin' 'bout?

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J B
Feb 23, 2013 12:38pm

Shameful effort to get some publicity

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"Daily Mailer"
Feb 23, 2013 4:07pm

I've crossed swords with John Doran before so I'm not speaking as some fanboy. I've been hoping to read an article like this about Bill Hicks for a while. I've enjoyed the limited amount of Bill Hicks' work that I have seen, but as Gordon Hill said earlier, the deification of Hicks is over the top.

Those people who think that John Doran is taking Bill Hicks' work too seriously should remember that Hicks was not the messiah, just a very naughty boy, when discussing him elsewhere.

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yeah
Feb 23, 2013 9:45pm

another great BST. consistently the best cultural commentary online or anywhere even.

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plasticeyeball
Feb 24, 2013 7:13pm

Y'all do know the guy that wrote this is the Quietus' creator/editor don't you?

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plasticeyeball
Feb 24, 2013 7:18pm

In reply to lh:

And the guy that owns/edits The Quietus.

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OhgodmakeitstopJohn
Feb 24, 2013 7:46pm

John Doran once again trots out the typical self important manifesto of "I hate anything that is not politically-correct-free-range-African albino-baby-saving-gender neutral and/or heterosexual in nature".

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Feb 24, 2013 10:26pm

self important hipster rant. "oooh this doesn't live up to my politically correct privileged white person hip moral standards, it has to be wrong!"
this website is annoying as fuck.

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Karen
Feb 24, 2013 11:04pm

John, kudos for another smart and thoughtful piece; makes me love TQ more and more. And, amusingly, one that by simply expressing what you think about when you think about the cult of Bill Hicks, has provoked a stumblefest of gritty-teethed folks writing GRRRR!!!ANGRY!!! words (often with pretty ropey spelling) in praise of - oh what a coincidence - provocation.

Bill Hicks; I remember him being adored back in the day by cokey Loaded hacks and frontboys in bands who were pretty smart and plenty mouthy but yet to become humane or wise. I remember thinking Bill Hicks' schtick wasn't daring or challenging, that it got tedious almost instantly, and had a big whiff of smirking nastiness not toward the powerful, but toward those who were not. Bigging it, sneering, bigtime, on behalf of the mouthy frontboys desperate to be daring.

Some of those frontboys have gone on to be a bit wiser and less look-at-me heartless and misogynist (sometimes fatherhood helps). And some are just older and more bitter. Hicks, meanwhile, dead, hasn't aged even as well as that.

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Simon
Feb 26, 2013 11:25am

This appears to be very divisive. Can I say I'm an admirer of Bill Hicks but with a shift in emphasis over time. When I was 17 I thought he was a highly insightful radical truth-teller. Now I'm a little bit older I mainly admire his skill as a Comedian, his brilliant timing, his boldness and his artistic integrity (and yes this is important just because a refusal to sell out is considered outdated does not make it any less a virtue). As for the content while a lot of it makes me laugh (Goat Boy being among the exceptions) I now realise Bill Hicks was like everyone else a beautiful flawed human being who no more knew the truth than the rest of us. I now disagree with a lot of what he says and think those who follow his every word are missing the point. In other words I've learned to think for myself and surely that was part of Bill Hicks' philosophy as well.

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Jack
Feb 26, 2013 11:14pm

I used to like Bill Hicks. I still do after reading this article. But after reading all the points made by fans who, despite supporting a libertarian man, don't want to hear any opposition, I think I've gone off him. Fandom ruins everything, man.

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Anon
Feb 27, 2013 1:39pm

Sensationalist (almost advertorial) style piece which is sure to garner some prolific on-line debate amongst the Quietus demographic. Very well aimed but poorly executed article. Strategic editor required.

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Feb 28, 2013 12:10am

It was 20 years ago today
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw1oZ9oSroo

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Feb 28, 2013 12:55am

In reply to :

As Ben Elton said "change your editor Bruv"
http://www.johndoran.co.uk
Rise up employees, all you have to lose is 1 twat.

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Feb 28, 2013 12:57am

In reply to :

20 years to the day for Waco.

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TedDanson
Feb 28, 2013 7:33pm

re. Keir Anderson

I can only assume the phrase:

'All matter is energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we are the imagination of ourselves'

is Hicks making fun of the word salad that new age charlatans like to come up with :)

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joe
Mar 2, 2013 8:38pm

In reply to Nik:

great comment

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EdWhore
Mar 3, 2013 2:14am

I'm a Hicks fan, but Jesus - the die hard fans in the comments on here and on Facebook are almost as bad as bad as the Catholic League's reaction to Jerry Springer the opera. "Hey Buddy, c'mere. We're Bill Hicks fans. We didn't like what you said". Then practice what he preached, get the fuck over it, and grow a sense of perspective.

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Ryan Camp
Mar 3, 2013 3:29am

To borrow Trotsky’s famous insult, everyone has the right to be stupid, but Mr. Doran abuses the privelege.
Doran refers to Hicks’ “ascent to canonization” as having been “painfully slow”. What was painfully slow was Doran’s tedious process of getting to the point. Then again, were I trudging to an anticlimax as flaccid as his, I suppose I too would postpone it for as long as possible.
Let me get this straight. You DON’T hate him for all the things you think he represented when he was alive. You hate him for what pop culture has done with his memory, eponymously. Oh, you were being sarcastic about the first part…Man, it was so nuanced it almost slipped by me!
On the count of drug and alcohol use, while it is well known that he partied hard with the likes of Sam Kinison and others during the late 80s, it is also well known that he sobered up. He admitted as much in later routines. His drug-related material was generally aimed at a corporate state that criminalizes plants growing out of the ground while advertising alcohol and cigarettes on giant billboards. Oh, and by the way, that material was funny.
His material on pornography called to task a scandalized cadre of elected officials, religious charlatans, and a corrupt media, for having the gall to legislate morality, sexual or otherwise, after decades of using blatant sexual imagery to manipulate the subconscious impulses of the entire consumer populace, to say nothing of the propaganda utilized for more overtly apalling purposes, as well as continually revealing themselves to be moral deviants of all sorts. Oh, by the way, that material was funny.
Doran makes the assertion that “the butts of Hicks’ jokes were usually working-class women, mothers, young children, and the very old”. I’m betting that a systematic analysis of Hicks’ recorded output; his videos and albums, would reveal that assertion to be wildly inaccurate. I’m familiar with most of that output, if not all of it. The butt of Hicks material was ignorance, hypocrisy, and hubris, in and of themselves. And that material was funny.
It may be difficult for a Brit to understand, but the vast majority of people in America STILL have not heard of Bill Hicks, to say nothing of the relative obscurity he experienced here while he was alive. He spent his entire career bashing his head against the wall of American hostility; hostility to anyone or anything deigning to offer critique, regardless of the merits of the critique or lack thereof. He made very little money here. He routinely emptied small clubs of all paying customers with his sets.
That last sentence brings me to my first point; mercifully, for the reader, in far speedier fashion than Mr. Doran came to his. Bill Hicks had guts. He was willing to bomb, and bomb spectacularly, night after night in America, in front of often hostile audiences who, contrary to whatever Mr. Doran has imagined, did not in fact “get” him. It goes without saying he wasn’t “right” about everything he said or believed, but he had guts, and that’s a lot more than I can say about a man who would attack him long after he has ceased being here to defend himself.
Did hecklers enrage Hicks? Absolutely. They enrage all comics. Ask any of them. I’d venture that most every female comic who’s ever seen footage of the “cunt” incident cheered him for his handling of it, or understood his handling of it at the very least. Who knows what he was going through that night; that week; that year? Would Mr. Doran like his entire character, his life’s work, impugned on the basis of a single incident? Has Mr. Doran ever tried his hand at stand-up? Has he ever been on the road, night after night?
For that matter, does anyone here claim never to have used an impolitic word toward women, men, ethnicities, or some other “other”, in a moment of anger? For laughs, even? Please. Sanctimonious, the lot of you.
Another point, in case it’s been missed, is that Bill Hicks was funny. He’s remembered as a comic’s comic by an entire generation of comics; men and women who know funny a damn sight better than does Mr. Doran; men and women who knew Hicks personally. Nobody who knew him personally has ever accused him of anything as ridiculous as pedophilia or misogyny - not his friends and female comics Brett Butler, Jeanine Garafolo - not anyone. Those who knew him invariably describe him as a gentle, compassionate, generous, and loving soul, who was actually quite a bit different than his onstage persona. Furthermore, those who knew him note a stark difference between the material he worked before being diagnosed with cancer and the material that came after. He was probably as terrified and angry as any of us would have been to be facing death at that age. Let’s not forget that he died at 32 years old. Did you have it all figured out at 32, Mr. Doran?
Was he perfect? Was he always right? Of course not. I don’t think he was trying to be. I think he was trying to be fucking funny. And that he was.
Shame on Mr. Doran; not for tipping a sacred cow, and not for pissing on the parade of an admitted and proud Bill Hicks “fanboy”; but, of all the public figures he could have picked to hate, for HATING a man who so clearly wanted to do strong work, and courageously did so, for the sake of all the love in his heart.

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OtterSquad
Mar 6, 2013 1:04pm

The responses from Bill Hicks fans do have a kind of hysterical cult-member quality to them.

Bill Hicks wasn't funny and that Goat Boy crap makes for pretty uncomfortable viewing these days.

Some people don't like Bill Hicks, deal with it Hickites.

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John Thomas
Apr 3, 2013 5:50pm

This is you, right?
http://www.johndoran.co.uk/images/pics_of_john/john59_lge.JPG

And you're referring to someone negatively as a "disgusting hippy"?

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Apr 17, 2013 2:46pm

No part of this was worth reading.

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May 7, 2013 3:16am

Wow dude ur stupid

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Nico
May 10, 2013 12:40pm

John, is a sad excuse for a journalist...

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May 25, 2013 6:56pm

In reply to Dan Bordello:

Your a fuckin idiot, may I suggest a healthy dose of silversided
Mushrooms, and squidgy your third eye my friend..

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Shane
May 25, 2013 7:05pm

John doran....
You need to be a certain kind of individual to appreciate bill hicks
He was a genius, who questioned the world we lived in, religion,
Beliefs, and the majority of what he said was true,
I'm guessing that your life is a very boring one in which society
Has a great hold on you, and you digest everything you are told,
Go and have a psychedelic experience, then actually LISTEN to what
Bill is saying, your ignorance is beneath you, and thanks to the use
Of hallucinogenic drugs, I SEE THROUGH YOU,
You ball less idiot, hicks was inspiring and is a total legend..
You write your shitty comments, but you will never in your life
Be appreciated as much as he, you talk utter utter rubbish,
And speculate what he WOULD be saying now..
When he talks about Kennedy assassination, he is truly passionate about
This topic, and he is right. CONSPIRICY. He makes people realise
This, and in a funny gripping way! Which is very clever.. Unlike your halfwit
Article .....
Feel free to email me your comments at
Shaneyboy32@yahoo.co.uk

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James King
Jun 9, 2013 2:00pm

Surely what you should be bewailing is this - the true curse of the age and the internet - basically the rise of the pundit and zero achiever.

You know at least I got up off my ass and did something, I entertained people and made them think into the bargain. Not only was that pretty cool it actually buys you the right to voice your opinion and to consider yourself contributing towards a sense of community while taking a swipe at it.

Spending your life pontificating online isn't doing something.
Neither is being a fat bearded couch potato and trying to pass it off as faux modesty. You see you have to actually DO SOMETHING before you can take that stance or even cut that pose.

Moreover if you want to be hailed as insightful then you might have actually had the acumen, even with hindsight (most of us got the joke at the time) to realise that the use of the word cunt with the heckler wasn't just ironic it was visionary - even if I do motherfucking say so myself!

You see, the heckler has multiplied into a drone horde and now swarms our streets pissed off their pretty heads, fucking and fighting with an impunity in modern culture that goes way beyond anything enjoyed by the bigoted misogynistic alpha males of yesteryear.

The problem with guys like John (and I use the term loosely)is they're too busy hoping that women like that might actually notice them as you pander to them to understand that you don't even understand yourself.

What you are trying to bewail numbnuts is the Princess Di culture that spawned the canonization of guys like me and women like her. But you do it badly and you've quoted more of me rather than actually writing anything original yourself. That's the bit where you are meant to do something and talk about the cult rather than the dead fat cancer ridden fucker (thats how you do faux modesty bit)whose death spawned it.

What you hate doesn't make you something except what I'll call you now and which you can pretend you invented later as it memes and tropes its way round the net.

The FOBA-PHOBE : (Hicks definition) the talentless hack masquerading as a critic while he plays to every hater masquerading as a person of light and love as they search for the PHOBE in others so as condemn while giving themselves a metaphorical leg up. Usually a fat underachieving couch potato often found masturbating into his sock.

Seriously son your editor should fire you if only for saying

"You can say that I'm fat, ugly and bearded, this much is certainly true. You can libel me in anyway..."

Son if its true then it isn't libel - learn your craft!

As for me. I smoke cigarettes I look cool dressed all in black and back in the day hell . . . I probably nailed your mum!

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Josh
Jun 11, 2013 3:17pm

As a fellow alcoholic in recovery I relate to every single word. His contrary nature is intact a very subtle satire of people inability in the western world to admit they are powerless and fear change, we're the puppet people

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Matt
Jun 28, 2013 5:12am

In reply to :

That's "psilocybin" mushrooms you fucking moron. Boy, you Bill Hicks fanatics really are morons.

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BP Akers
Jul 2, 2013 4:15pm

Standing ovation to Mr Doran !

Why aren't more folks were so perceptive, about Hicks 24-carat gift to our "arts and entertainment' (=cough= gasp). Well, thank you for telling it like it is - about a certain brand of cultish ugliness, soliciting attention. Trying to pass itself off as comedy, or social comment, political speech, or ... whatever it is Hicks fandom says it is.

I never even heard of this guy, until his name was thrown in my face, in defensive hostility - by followers of Terence McKenna. Apparently Hicks is "one" (gooble gobble - FREAKS), with all the rights and honors, above the rest of us. Talk about a cult, omg ... you prolly know the name, #1 charismatic cult icon of our 'brave new' post-Leary fringe psychedelia.

(I see spelling of psilocybin, post just previous, coming into issue .... how consistent)

After having Hicks' name thrown at me 'booga booga' style, I looked into things. Sure nuff, turns out Hicks was among those awestruck by the Word of Terence McKenna. All impressed, thought he was brilliant, a genius etc - all the bs accolades his devotees use to venerate his robes.

(Mckenna's guy who couldn't make a lick of sense if he wanted to and good thing, since he apparently had no such interest. He wasn't stupid per se, merely used his vocab to act himself some sort of genius, to anyone gullible enough to 'seriously consider' whatever he said - and say Hail Terence, go 'wow' on cue, etc)

Apparently for Hicks, McKenna's interminable pseudo-profound yammering - oops, I mean his 'brilliant theories' - were a source of 'inspiration' - like Y2k12ism, and 'stoned apes' - etc.

Thank you John Doran - your comment on the fawning embrace of Hicks, and his obnoxious narcissistic pretense of schtick is keenly appreciated. Guy ingratiated a certain aggressively humorless 'taste' - his act smells like a love letter to the audacity of belligerent ignorance. That stuff earns a swift hard kick in the pants.

A laurel - for bringing a note of welcome relief. The assault to intelligence and humor this Hicks guy's act inflicts is pretty offensive stuff, not really acceptable. What really puts that sick puppy over the top, is the cultish applause from his gulls. The enthused embrace of his ranting, as if some sort of comedy - by those whose sense of entitlement and antisocial impulses he coddled with his 'message' (whatever one calls it - comedy, drama, tragedy, stupidity, etc.

WANTED: More like Mr Doran in this world ..

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Smalltown Girl / Lonely World
Jul 4, 2013 2:55pm

"taking drugs no matter the ill effect they had on anyone else using..."

Taking drugs is every adult's right. My body, my choice. I don't care if it's fucking illegal. Legality does not = morality. Treating people poorly because you're on drugs is another matter, but Bill only acted like a jerk when he was drunk. It wasn't the weed or the shrooms that nearly destroyed his career and life, it was booze.

Bill went through a serious phase of addiction but pulled himself out with relatively little help. Much of his offensive/incoherent material came from that era.

The so-called "homophobic" Letterman joke was meant to show the double-standard of patriarchal society's view of gender and sexuality. (i.e. - Lesbians are sexy; gay men are icky). Bill explained this himself in a later interview.

I'm not a die-hard fan, but I do respect Bill for breaking the mold and doing his own thing. Growing up in a small Southern town is fucking brutal when you don't fit in. Bill's pessimistic, brash attitude came from years of idiocy and closed-mindedness he encountered growing up. Being the only critically-thinking individual in a place like that leaves you with two options: suicide or escape. I'm glad he chose the latter.

You might not find him entertaining, but I don't think that he was going for anyway.

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jack
Jul 16, 2013 11:45pm

On a side note, I personally enjoy the few comments claming not to care about what the writer says, having evidently cared enough to leave a comment. Curious.

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william melvin
Aug 3, 2013 5:15pm

In reply to jack:

Totally agree with the article.I detest him.Bitter disgusting human being who vastly overestimated his own intelligence.

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Banner
Aug 14, 2013 6:39am

The issue with this is that it seems like a missed opportunity. There's a lot to be said for the over-inflated Hicks cult (and I like the guy), but this article seemed to miss it.

You called him a disgusting hippy (seriously, that just made you sound like Grampa Simpson) and chastised him for feeling that drugs were the right of the individual. Say what you like about Hicks, but he had far more intelligent arguments than the ones you just offered (which wouldn't of sounded out of place on The Daily Mail comment board). The polemic behind Hicks does need to be looked at a little more in-depth and critically with a level of negativity. Maybe someone else will do it properly in the future.

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JIM
Sep 21, 2013 10:08am

Hicks was an asshole, but you love his attacks on "deserving" Christians ... that sure makes you a wonderful human being.

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Goatboy is Pissed
Nov 14, 2013 6:03am

Bill Hicks the Icon? Sure, hat him, fine. Bill Hicks the comedian? I think you have unconsciously misplaced your hate for libertarian sentiments and the youth in general. He was a man who got paid to make people laugh, and that's what he did. And if a few people want to go on and on about how revolutionary his ideals were, let them. Better to let the fools walk in darkness, as they get scared in the light.

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Kerry
Dec 24, 2013 8:14am

Bill Hicks would've loved you

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Don Nasca
Jan 4, 2014 9:11am

1. God gave rock and roll to you
2. Schools out for summer or I'm 18 and I don't know what I want.
3. Mixing comedy with social commentary is by far the best way to get people thinking and talking and hopefully acting.

Bill Hicks may have used some foul language, smoked pot and cigarettes, drank booze and watched porno, but that was his choice. If you don't like an entertainer, change the channel.

I hate the comedy shows of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Glen Beck, but I don't try to summarize my hatred after watching one clip, it took me two or three broadcasts of their hate filled content to know how far into the pockets of the corpo-government they are. Good luck, maybe you can be the next right-wing billionaire propagandist.

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Jeff Knooren
Jan 12, 2014 11:55pm

"How can anyone listen to this vacuous bullshit without developing a migraine?"

Karl Sagan said the same thing about people and the nature of the universe. You must hate Karl Sagan too? The reason why people like Bill Hicks, is because he makes you question what you believe.

If you're seriously going to argue that KISS isn't overrated, and Debbie Gibson deserves all the adulation bestowed on her, then prove it to us. In the process of making that case, you might just understand why Hicks mentioned KISS in the first place. However, It would require real investigative journalism and thought on politics, religion, or "the system" of how things are. But you never got any further than "cowardly misanthropy" from inside your nice little soapbox, and that is what's wrong with you.

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d-image
Jan 14, 2014 12:03am

John Doran reminds me of God TV fucking MENTAL ILL-INFORMED, MISS-GUIDED MORON. HE LOOKS LIKE A 90'S GRUNGER TOO FFS.
ANYWAY HATE MAIL TO HIS ADDRESS talktodoran@gmail.com

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Alexander
Feb 7, 2014 9:34am

There will always be pathetic hacks trying to smear greater men then themselves.

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Thunder Cunt
Feb 7, 2014 5:28pm

Spot on. I cringe whenever I hear someone say "my favorite comedian is Bill Hicks." I know I'm going to draw some more lines in the sand when I say this, but Eddie Murphy wasn't that great either.

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Nick
Feb 15, 2014 11:25am

This article sums up everything Bill Hicks was rallying against in his comedy.Over zealous Americans with no sense of irony, too uptight and simply taking themselves too seriously.
You take random quotes and create your own back story to support your weak argument.
I don't think Hicks was advocating pornography for kids or free drugs, he was using those examples to point out the inconsistencies in the world.
There's a spiteful undercurrent running through the entire piece.

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London Male
Feb 22, 2014 8:45pm

Alleluia! The king of comedy has been dug up. And about time too. This was a joy to read. I always felt his comedy was just a little lame but the adulation he received even lamer. Well done John.

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Claire
Feb 26, 2014 11:13pm

This is such a poorly written piece it is embarrassing! Starting a sentence with a connective such as "and" is appalling! I don't even need to delve into the superficial and transparent assessment of Bill Hicks, as it is evident that you would not be able to grasp the concept. So I won't waste my time. It's a shame that you exist and are such a blight on this earth. You make me weep with despair at the failings of this world!
Now you can pick apart my spelling, grammar and punctuation.... It may even give you some practice. At least I don't base my living and existence on it! I hope you teach your children better than that, otherwise I may also have to call you a bad father!

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Patrick b
Feb 28, 2014 2:09am

Whilst I accept that some of the criticisms thrown at hicks in thus article are unfair , as they were meant as ironic statements by hicks. I do agree tag the is the most overrated comic ever. People just jump on the bandwagon and ridiculously label him as a genius whereas in reality he is a mildly amusing comedian who believed that he was some kind of great social political thinker , whilst he was just echoing the kind of simplistic political drivel that young teenagers talk about when they first discover weed

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Mar 1, 2014 1:28am

I dont understand how Hicks' cult status differs from any other deceased public figures? We all need to have something to cling to, you have your rant and we have Hicks'.

Anyway, as many have pointed out: you have not done your research, have completely misunderstood great portions of his material or are simply trolling. I cant decide, because i do not know you any of your previous work. But if i had to guess i'd go for the trolling, as you have made such ridiculously flawed statetements.

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You're an imbecile
Mar 11, 2014 2:54pm

The irony nearly killed me in this, the author really needs to smoke some pot, eat some mushrooms and squeegee his third eye.

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Kai
Mar 13, 2014 4:43am

y'all need to stop trying to suck a dead man's cock. hella Hicks fans embarrassing the legacy of the man. ok, so the article is a bit weak, albeit well pitched, but come on; we've all seen those wayward Hickites in the plains of the internet, beginning to use footage like a scripture - as a dogma. the attack itself, on the cult, is just, if only poorly executed.

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Max
Mar 19, 2014 9:15am

stupid

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Mar 19, 2014 9:28am

Dear Author, may I recommend listening to more, if not all, of Hicks' shows? Perhaps gather more information about the guy before dissecting bits and pieces of a few of his shows then being overan-alytical about them. Don't take him too seriously(as I think you did with this article). Hicks, to me, was in a lot of ways philosophical. Your rant about him not seeing himself as part of the problem was cute. But I believe his words was just a figure of speech. I'm quite confident that if there was an opportunity for you to ask him what he meant, he would be able to explain it to you, being so artistic and poetic with the way he strings his words together and all. Most people who are verbally expressing themselves, screaming in absolute rage aren't going to stand there and [sensibly] explain their words.

Nice try though.........

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Sinister Jim
Mar 30, 2014 2:04am

John Doran, You suck Satan's cock!

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Apr 9, 2014 4:37pm

quote mining is a glorious thing isn't it

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