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Bill Hicks' "Sane Man" is a concert performance from the summer of 1989
- although most of the material in this show can also be heard on his
"Dangerous" album, there's something to be said for watching the man on
film. His passion for his subject can only go so far on CD, and his few
visual gags don't translate well.
The image of Hicks as a visionary, howling unregarded in the wilderness, has been overdone among his hardcore fan base, but watching "Sane Man" shows how accurate that description really is. His act attacks runaway consumerism, the pornography industry, non-smokers, the nature of American politics and all points in between. His interaction with his audience is not typical of a stand-up comedian, as he goads and cajoles them into feeling as angry about his topics as he himself does - sometimes it works, but at other times Hicks seems totally isolated on stage.
More than ten years after his death, Bill Hicks' voice deserves to be heard by a wider audience. "Sane Man" is a fine place to start.
Ok it's true. I TOO am from Austin, TX. (Are people in Austin the only
who know this gem exists?) Therefore, I might be slightly biased. I know
several comics in the local scene here and most all of the comics wish to
Bill Hicks on SOME level. Bill Hicks is to our generation what Lenny Bruce
was to that of the late 1950's and early to mid 1960's. In my opinion, the
BEST comedy is the type that not only makes you laugh but challenges you
think and ask questions as well. It is also rife with social
This performance video is NOT for the "squeamish" and "sensitive". If you appreciate the "comedic stylings" of Adam Sandler or Dana Carvey, or if you have ever said to yourself: "Damn that Carrot Top is funny! Where DOES he come up with these things?!?!?" then I suggest you move along. For as you spend time reading this TV show "COPS" is on the air somewhere and you're MISSING IT!
If however you fall into that "other" category, this might just be your ticket.
Bill Hicks was never one to mince words, and this 1989 taping at the "Laugh Stop" in Austin, TX. is certainly no exception. This film was made primarily as a "demo" for the folks at HBO in hopes of lading Bill a spot in their "One Night Stand" series. Thanks to Bill's friend Kevin Booth, we now have this as a piece of his lasting legacy.
In this set, Bill touches on several issues from smoking, to drugs, to religion, to pornography, to musical pop culture. (This part's a HOOT! If this particular bit doesn't make sense to you, insert more current names. It will become clear.) This was Bill at the height of his career. He was exceedingly vibrant and full of life. --- Sadly, as with most truly great artists, he was taken from us at age 32 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Still, once you watch this you will be begging for more. I promise! (This is assuming you got the joke to begin with. If you didn't do not fear. I think Nick at Night is running "Who's the Boss" right now, and if you hurry, you can catch it.)
When you then find yourself in need of a "Hicks fix", there is much to be gleaned. (You're already ON the internet! Just do a search for "Bill Hicks".) There are four albums produced when Bill was still alive and two that were released years after his death. There are also various videos to be had. After a few good doses of Hicks, you will be amazed and astounded at how the insights of a man that young can be so profound and so relevant to today's society and culture. (The rest of you will look at the screen like a dog that's just been shown a card trick.)
For those of you who have over the years enjoyed the humor of Denis Leary, I would HIGHLY suggest that you view this video and listen to a few of Bill's Albums. I am sad to report to you that Denis "hacked" a good majority of his early act from Bill Hicks. Denis however was a more toned down almost "user friendly" version of Hicks.
There is a VERY dark joke amongst comics: Q: "Why did Bill Hicks die but Denis Leary continues to live? A: "Because there's 'No Cure for Cancer'."
(And as Bill's friend Jimmy Pineapple would say, "Case F***ing Closed!")
Sane Man is Bill's best performance ever caught on tape. Never before had
seen a comedian with so much great material, whose delivery was "on" for
every second. Be warned: Bill Hicks ruins you for lesser
Though this concert was taped in 1989, his subject matter (drugs, sex, hypocrisy, advertising & consumerism), style, ideas, and humor hasn't become dated in the least. Watching his performance eleven years later I am humbled by how relevant, insightful, and unique his views were.
Watch this tape with some friends and be astounded by 80 minutes from the voice of reason of a man who had a lot to say, said it, and spiced it up with some great punchlines.
What can I say that hasn't been said before? Well, here goes! Bill, you sorry sack of sh*t, bet your not laughing now, huh!!? Well, that about raps it up for whats not been said before! And now on to the more important stuff! If any fans of comedy haven't seen Sane Man, I implore you to buy it right now, buckle yourself in and get ready for one of the most outrageous and rib tickling experiences of your life! This is Bill Hicks at his most PC offencive and anarchic best. The bit about Debbie Gibson, Tiffany and Jimmy Hendrix....possibly the funniest skit I have ever heard in my life! He was the comedic Frank Zappa! Erm, apparently I'm suppose to write ten lines of this crap! Well, i cannot be bothered to write anymore, so I will just press one key for a few more lines, OK! H I C K S I S G O D !!
The most strange part of Bill's work from over 12 years ago is that it
rings true to this day. Check out his Bush material on "Arizona Bay" &
see if it doesn't sound like a modern day comedian talking about George
As for "Sane Man" it is easily one of the Top Ten Funniest stand-up videos of all time. Watch it & call me a liar. You can't! It's on par with "Richard Pryor Live" (or "Live on the Sunset Strip")
His attacks are precise. His findings relevant. His timing perfect. He manipulates the microphone like no one else.
Tool fans will recognize Bill as the guy from the song "Third Eye" telling the "today a young man on acid..." story.
I loved Bill's work, miss him dearly & quote him AT LEAST once a week, hence my screen name for over seven years: BillHicksFan
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