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In Memoriam: Bill Hicks

  • Comicmix
Bill Hicks died twenty years ago today, February 26, 1994. Most comic book fans know him from his appearance in Preacher #31, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon:

Here’s the man at work, in a segment that David Letterman removed from his show:

This was his final statement:

February 7, 1994 –

I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always “awake,” I guess you’d say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place.

All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who’ve helped me.
See full article at Comicmix »

Russell Crowe On For Bill Hicks Film

Russell Crowe On For Bill Hicks Film
Rumours that Russell Crowe was planning to bring a Bill Hicks biopic to the screen have been bubbling away for a few years now, but the passion project is finally coming to fruition. Sydney's The Telegraph (via Indiewire) reports that the so-far untitled Hicks project will shoot next year, with Crowe making his directorial debut behind the camera."Bill Hicks' life is tragically short, but spectacularly interesting," Crowe's old schoolmate and the film's screenwriter Mark Staufer said. "The screenplay has gone through a number of drafts and we'll go into production early next year."An acerbic chronicler of '80s and early '90s America blessed with a hyperkinetic intelligence and sandpaper delivery, Hicks was a lacerating thorn in the side of the gun lobby, organised religion and hypocrisy in general. He died in 1994 aged 32, an age difference that ultimately predicated against Crowe taking on his mantle on the other side of the camera.
See full article at EmpireOnline »

The 10 most innovative stand-up comedy specials of all time (with video)

  • IFC
The 10 most innovative stand-up comedy specials of all time (with video)
Stand-up comedy is one of the most beloved art forms there is, and it's also one of the most difficult to master. For every Louis C.K., there are a hundred Jeff Dunhams. People often make lists of the best comedians of all time, or the best comedy albums, but when it comes to actual comedy TV specials, which is what every comedian strives for these days to get into heavy rotation on Comedy Central, it's a different story. There's a million of them - some are good, some are decent, some are iffy, and some are awful. Here, however, are some of the most innovative, groundbreaking comedy specials that have ever been made - shows you should really see if you're a fan of comedy at all (Note: specials are listed chronologically).

[#1-5]   [#6-10]   [Index]

George Carlin at USC (1977)

Any mention of innovative comedy specials has to start with George Carlin, who forged
See full article at IFC »

Rewind TV: The Man Who Crossed Hitler; Hans Litten vs Adolf Hitler: To Stop a Tyrant; Random; American: The Bill Hicks Story; The Hour – review

Ed Stoppard was impressive as the lawyer who dared to put the Führer in the dock in The Man Who Crossed Hitler, while The Hour came to a satisfying close

The Man Who Crossed Hitler (BBC2) | iPlayer

Hans Litten vs Adolf Hitler: To Stop a Tyrant (BBC2) | iPlayer

Random (Channel 4) | 4oD

American: The Bill Hicks Story (BBC4) | iPlayer

The Hour (BBC2) | iPlayer

For all its virtue as an attention-grabber, any play called The Man Who Crossed Hitler – a story based on true events – was bound to struggle with the weight of dramatic irony. However much you wondered who this man was, you didn't have to wonder if things would end well for him.

This was the tragedy of Hans Litten, a smart young Berlin lawyer who, in 1931, hauled Germany's raging Führer-to-be into court for an afternoon of impudent questioning, in particular to have him explain the apparent confusion in
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Blu-Ray Review: ‘American: The Bill Hicks Story’ Sheds Light on a Landmark Comic

Chicago – The funniest jokes are the ones that ring true. They aren’t merely punch-lines. Cathartic laughs are earned not through formulaic quips but through candid observations both startling and relatable. I often find myself feeling awestruck in the presence of a great comic, simply because of their willingness to say what we’ve all thought but never dared to mention in public.

“Awe-inspiring” is certainly a phrase that applies to the life of Bill Hicks, a phenomenally gifted comedian who used his satire as a vehicle for enlightenment. His strict Southern Baptist upbringing provided him with a wealth of early material, while his hatred of hypocrisy led him to be openly critical of religion, media and the U.S. government, which may have played a key role in garnering him a large fan base in the U.K. No wonder this 2009 documentary was directed by British filmmakers Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas,
See full article at HollywoodChicago.com »

Bill Hicks is back!

Ok, so Bill Hicks isn’t exactly back – though if he were, he would have a lot of big game to go after.

Unfortunately, the great comic, social commentator and sane man Bill Hicks is still dead. But the definitive Bill Hicks movie, American: The Bill Hicks Story is here at last, playing select showtimes at the Alamo South Lamar and Village. No matter how giant a Bill Hicks fan you may be, you have never seen his words and art presented in such scope before. American was three years in the making and draws upon a large variety of primary source material in making Hicks (nearly) come to life again. Through a judicious use of animation (the Austin Chronicle called it “Ken Burns by way of Terry Gilliam”), it all flows together beautifully to create a brilliantly detailed portrait of a man who’s been a hero to many of us.
See full article at AlamoDrafthouseCinema »

American: The Bill Hicks Story – The Review

American: The Bill Hicks Story is a documentary along the lines of Richard Pryor: I Ain.T Dead Yet, #*%$#@!! or Sam Kinison: Why Did We Laugh? All three films take a look at great comics, travelling back in time to try and better understand the life of the artist, what made them tick and why their brand of humor was so well received by audiences.

Bill Hicks was just a kid from Houston who, like so many teenagers, felt the need to rebel and do something different. So, instead of going to college like the rest of his family, Hicks knew at an early age he wanted to be a comedian. His career started at the tender age of 15 when he performed with popularity at a comedy club in Houston, Texas.

Before long, Bill Hicks found himself becoming a potential star, but that.s also about the time
See full article at WeAreMovieGeeks.com »

Exclusive: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas Talk American: The Bill Hicks Story

The directing duo takes us behind-the-scenes of this groundbreaking new documentary, in theaters now

Utilizing an array of animation, archival photographs, and a stockpile of never-before-scene video footage, directors Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock have crafted one of the most intriguing documentaries of the year with American: The Bill Hicks Story. Thicker than any biography could ever hope to be, we get a true sense of this groundbreaking comedian in ways we've never heard or seen before.

Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock track Bill Hicks from his meager beginnings, to his drug addiction and alcoholism, through his second coming as a clean comedian, and into his untimely death at the age of 33. This is a must-see documentary for anyone interested in the art of stand-up comedy, or the history of American originals.

We caught up with Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock as American: The Bill Hicks Story opens throughout the country.
See full article at MovieWeb »

[Review] American: The Bill Hicks Story

How does one document a legend, especially one as controversial and influential as comedian Bill Hicks? Throughout his career, he was labeled a rebel, a saint, someone who looked out for the best of America, and someone who was the embodiment of everything wrong with America. Instead of making the film an indictment or tribute to a comic that transcended telling jokes, directors Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas use their film American: The Bill Hicks Story to simply tell the story of the man himself.

There doesn’t seem to be anything revolutionary in the idea, but the truly riveting aspect is how the filmmakers tell the story through animating a wealth of photos accompanied with current voice over of the people who knew his story the best, including his family, his closest friends, and fellow comedians. This style, somewhere between cut-out dolls and Pixar movies, allows us to see
See full article at The Film Stage »

American: The Bill Hicks Story Review: "'Freebird!' The Mantra of the Moron"

  • Pajiba
There's not a lot to say about this documentary ,which is now available on iTunes (it's also in limited release). If you liked Bill Hicks, you'll like the documentary. If you didn't like Bill Hicks, kill yourself (also, you won't like this documentary). And if you have no idea who Bill Hicks is, check out these clips (no, really, they are fucking hilarious and true and awesome in every sense of the word). If you like them, I'd recommend American: The Bill Hicks Story as a decent primer on his material, since half of the documentary consists of clips of his stand-up routine:

On Rick Astley:

Rick Astley? Have you seen this banal incubus at work? Boy, if this guy isn't heralding Satan's imminent approach to Earth, huh. "Don't ever wanna make you cry, never wanna make you sigh ... never gonna break your heart" ... oh, I wouldn't worry about that without a dick,
See full article at Pajiba »

American: The Bill Hicks Story

Some say that real humor is usually fueled by strong emotions. That may help explain why Bill Hicks was one of the best comedians our country’s ever seen, since at his best his comedy was fueled by his rage, ripping apart a world he saw as full of inescapable stupidity and laziness. One of the main questions being asked by American: The Bill Hicks Story is how exactly Hicks became so angry, not to mention how much of the anger was an act and how much was genuinely who he was.
See full article at PasteMagazine »

Film: Movie Review: American: The Bill Hicks Story

Bill Hicks used to be considered merely one of the greatest stand-up comics in the world. That was a long time ago. After his death in 1994 at age 32, he became a comedy martyr. Then he became a comedy saint. That wasn’t enough posthumous validation, however, so the new documentary American: The Bill Hicks Story essentially posits Hicks as a comedy messiah who died for our sins and will someday return to save us from Carlos Mencia, Gallagher, and Dane Cook. American represents the height of the posthumous deification of Hicks, which has transformed him into a principled ...
See full article at The AV Club »

Ology Exclusive: Interview with the Directors of 'American: The Bill Hicks Story'

Even if you don't know who Bill Hicks is (technically a dead comedian), American: The Bill Hicks Story is as good of a place to start as any. British filmmakers Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas have painstakingly assembled a loving portrait of a man who was too smart, too funny and too completely ahead of his time to make a solid impact in his country of origin, the good old U.S. of A. Matt and Paul were kind enough to give me a slice of their time on Monday, and the ensuing dialogue was nothing short of fascinating. Matt actually took charge and asked me the first question for a change.

Matt - Did you know Bill quite well before hand?

read more
See full article at Filmology »

Matt Harlock & Paul Thomas, “American: The Bill Hicks Story”

Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of the Texas stand-up comedian Bill Hicks, who died in 1994 at age 32, having found resounding success overseas and little more than professional respect at home. Since then, I’ve devoured several hours of his comedy specials on my Netflix Instant account, marveling at the way this artist managed to blend blisteringly caustic commentaries on sex, politics, rock music, religion, and drug addiction with a weirdly humane, almost holistic philosophy of life. Stand-up comedy in any form is not normally my thing, but I’ve become rather attached to The World According to Hicks.

Heir to Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor, Hicks was a hard-working club habitué who built his material from life experience — he was raised in a strict Southern Baptist home in Houston and was transformed head to toe by an experience with psychedelic mushrooms before he ever touched a drop of alcohol.
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

"American: The Bill Hicks Story," Reviewed

  • IFC
A stand-up comedian's job is to make people laugh. But the more you learn about stand-ups, the more you see how unfunny their own lives often are. Many of the best comedians are forged in the darkest places. Comedian Bill Hicks struggled with substance abuse for years and then just as he got himself clean and his career started to take off, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 31. He was dead by the time he was 32.

Funny as it is, "American: The Bill Hicks Story" is a deeply moving tragedy about the miserable luck of an absolute genius. And I don't use the word "genius" lightly here. Hicks was like the stand-up comedian version of a five-tool baseball player. He could do it all. He had great timing. He did great impressions. He had amazing physical gifts. His humor came from a distinctive and really unique perspective.
See full article at IFC »

American: The Bill Hicks Story (documentary)

Reviewed by Randee Dawn

(from the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival)

Directed/Produced by: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas

To comics, Bill Hicks was known as “the comedian’s comedian.” A tireless stand-up who got his start as a teenager, sneaking out of his parents’ home to sneak into Houston open-mic nights, Hicks virtually burst out of the gate as a professional, with a fully formed sense of how to make people laugh.

Yet outside the insular world of comedians, Hicks is largely known to audiences in the form of grainy Nth-generation copies of his stand-up; seen piecemeal like this it’s hard to appreciate his particular brand of genius. And today Hicks, who died of cancer in 1994, isn’t around to prove why he’s worth remembering.

American: The Bill Hicks Story” is an inventively crafted, if occasionally myopic, look at the comic, making extensive use of those Nth-generation stand-up copies,
See full article at Moving Pictures Network »

American: The Bill Hicks Story (documentary)

Reviewed by Randee Dawn

(from the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival)

Directed/Produced by: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas

To comics, Bill Hicks was known as “the comedian’s comedian.” A tireless stand-up who got his start as a teenager, sneaking out of his parents’ home to sneak into Houston open-mic nights, Hicks virtually burst out of the gate as a professional, with a fully formed sense of how to make people laugh.

Yet outside the insular world of comedians, Hicks is largely known to audiences in the form of grainy Nth-generation copies of his stand-up; seen piecemeal like this it’s hard to appreciate his particular brand of genius. And today Hicks, who died of cancer in 1994, isn’t around to prove why he’s worth remembering.

American: The Bill Hicks Story” is an inventively crafted, if occasionally myopic, look at the comic, making extensive use of those Nth-generation stand-up copies,
See full article at Moving Pictures Magazine »

American: The Bill Hicks Story | Review

Directors: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas There is a bloody good reason that this documentary by co-directors Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas is titled American: The Bill Hicks Story. Harlock and Thomas are British BBC veterans -- and we all know how much the Brits love the American comic Bill Hicks. In 2010 he was voted the 4th on the UK's Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups; and, though an American, he is certainly not held in the same esteem by most Americans. That is not to say that Hicks did not develop a dedicated cult audience in the U.S., especially after his premature death at the age of 32. (Note: Hicks did not die from drugs, alcohol or cigarettes -- though he certainly indulged enough for death by overindulgence to be a possibility -- he died from pancreatic cancer.) Hicks' dedicated fans claim that he is the most influential comedian since Lenny Bruce; and like Bruce,
See full article at SmellsLikeScreenSpirit »

New Release: American: The Bill Hicks Story Blu-ray and DVD

On June 7, Warner Home Video will release the DVD and Blu-ray of American: The Bill Hicks Story, a biographical documentary on the life — too short life — of controversial comedian/social commentator Bill Hicks, who died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32.

American: The Bill Hicks Story looks at the controversial funnyman's life and career.

Produced and directed for the BBC in 2009 by British filmmakers Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock, American: The Bill Hicks Story notably applies a unique cut-and-paste animation technique to a number of still pictures of Hicks — who once described himself as “Chomsky with dick jokes” — to document his life and career. The film also includes archival footage, as well as interviews with Hicks’ family and friends, including Kevin Booth, an American filmmaker and musician who was one of Hicks’ frequent collaborators.

The movie was well-received at Stateside film festivals and during its run in theaters last year in England,
See full article at Disc Dish »

American: The Bill Hicks Story is Headed Stateside This April

I have been a fan of Bill Hicks’ unique brand of stand-up comedy for years, preaching the proverbial gospel to those who have yet to experience the man’s genius for themselves. As such, I’ve been closely following Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas’ Hicks-oriented documentary “American: The Bill Hicks Story” for a while now. The film was released theatrically in the UK last year, much to the dismay of North American fans who have been waiting patiently for the picture to arrive in our neck of the woods. That wait, as they say, is over. “American” is set to open in New York on April 8th, with more dates to follow. Needless to say, I’m anxious to see this puppy on the big screen, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will play somewhere around here. If you missed the trailer when I covered the flick last year,
See full article at Beyond Hollywood »
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