Unseen Bill Hicks Clip

Anniversary of comedian's death marked with release of rare gig footage

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20 years ago this month, the American comedian Bill Hicks wrote his final words.



As a man who'd spent his life chastising, cajoling and occasionally screaming at his audiences with an incomparable blunt eloquence and rhetorical zeal, it was important to him to have the last say.

Unable to speak thanks to the pancreatic cancer that was killing him, Hicks wrote the parting sentence weeks before his death aged just 32: "I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.”

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Discovering that spirit in all its anarchic glory remains a rite-of-passage for young men today, as much as the work of any rock God or writer. With his self-righteous rants against capitalism and chuckling endorsements of drugs and smoking, Hicks represented that beautiful moment in life when you become aware of all that is wrong with the world but are as of yet too young to be compromised into participating in it.

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Hicks never compromised. Instead of abandoning his youthful idealism, it hardened in him. With age he grew more indignant, not less, that the world wasn't what he wanted it to be. And he channelled that indignation into an onstage persona that was part spiritual guru part bellicose bully – arrogant, uplifting, unpredictable and capable of shocking even today.

Truth, one of Bill Hicks’ favourite and final words, was a weapon he wielded like it was his alone, as though he simply saw the world more clearly than the rest of us. Look back over his stand up today. You still sense he had a point.

 




The above is a never-before-seen clip of Hicks filmed in December 1992 at The Laff Stop in Austin, Texas. It is an even more acerbic version of his Basic Instinct sequence from Revelations, which, if you haven't seen it, is below.

Comedians Robin Ince, Brendon Burns, Shaun Keaveny (6Music) and host Jeff Innocent present a celebration of the life of Bill Hicks on 26 Feb 2014. Buy tickets here.