Music Reviews

Bill Hicks

Flying Saucer Tour, Vol. 1: Pittsburgh, PA, 6/20/91


Okay, I’m about to commit left-wing heresy: Bill Hicks was not all that great a comedian. I know that he was witty and trenchant and he’s idolized by Thom Yorke and Martin Carr and all manner of UK leftist musicians; I know that I agree with him that the “war on drugs” was/is stupid and that the US government lies about its level of aggression and all that stuff; I know that it’s important for us non-right-wingers to stick together blah blah blah. But based on this album, Hicks was just a shock-jock with a foul mouth whose “he was one of the greats” reputation is entirely undeserved.

Not to say that this disc isn’t worth hearing – it’s the sound of a comedian bombing, and bombing back. Hicks is an asshole to this audience from the word go, deciding that they were stupid because they weren’t laughing at his jokes, that they were apathetic worthless pieces of shit because they just wanted “dick jokes”; but the stuff that isn’t working is just NOT ALL THAT FUNNY. Hicks, a Texan, puts on a fake Deep South accent to make fun of people who like going to the beach, because he himself doesn’t like going to the beach, because the beach is hot and sweaty. Yeah, ha ha, and by the way, don’t just do a southern accent to indicate stupidity, okay? And hey, deceased comedian, here’s a news flash: drum roll, please: when you’re scoring points by describing in lurid detail your sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, don’t make fun of the audience for being lowbrow and moronic: look in a freakin’ mirror.

Okay, sounds like I’m losing it a little. I’ll admit that Hicks was intelligent and that a lot of the “edgy comedian” thing was a persona. There are moments on this disc when I was laughing, like during his comments about what is now called “the Gulf War”: “There never was a war. A war is when TWO armies are fighting.” But come on – his whole shtick was “Sam Kinison with good politics,” and I never found Sam Kinison all that funny, and Hicks’ “political” comments just seem pretty dated by now. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t heard his “good” albums, like Relentless, but I can’t justify recommending this album to anyone, and certainly not as an introduction to the work of Bill Hicks.


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