I have never been big on Halloween, partly because I am bitter towards it as a holiday. My birthday is October 30, and thus I hold a grudge against Halloween for distracting people from the important task of lavishing me with attention on that date. This year, however, I found the kind of Halloween-related event I can really get behind. A comedian friend organized a cover show in the spirit of the holiday, and several of us did short sets as comedians that have been particularly influential to us. So that's why, for approximately 12 minutes on Wednesday evening, I was Bill Hicks:

Goat Boy rises

It was the most fun I had doing…anything, really, in the past year. Part of that statement reflects how much the past year has sucked for me. The rest reflects how exciting and rewarding it was to play make believe for a few minutes.

Two things were especially interesting. One is how awkward it felt to get silence from some of the material. But in reality, if you listen to any recordings of Hicks before he started to become semi-popular and build an audience, he's mostly met by a wall of silence. Listen to Dangerous with decent headphones and you'll realize that nearly all of the laughter is canned, added during the production process. People mostly just stared at this guy when he performed, excepting his more devoted following in the UK. After the show one of my friends told me "Well, they were all staring at you, which means you nailed it." Second, it's really hard to do someone else's jokes. Or to adopt someone else's persona. Or delivery. Or accent. Or whatever.

The previous statement is inapplicable to my friend Nate Mitchell, who did Emo Phillips so perfectly it was kind of scary (not to mention funnier than the actual Emo Phillips):

Way to set the bar high, Nate. Unfortunately I couldn't turn myself into a fat, sweaty, pasty, mulleted Bill Hicks in terms of appearance, but I think I did the material a bit of justice. Even though most of you don't care, it was a pretty big deal for me. What with the channeling dead heroes and all.

22 thoughts on “NPF: IDOLATRY”

  • You should have started with "I lost a contact in the crowd and I need help finding it".

    Bill Hicks is not for everyone. He was so far ahead of his time that comedy-nerd friends of mine still don't get it.

    He, Brian Regan & Jimmy Pardo are the greatest comedians of the last 20 years. Add Jaime Kilstein in 10 years.

  • Before I get flamed; Louis CK, Bill Burr, Todd Glass, Doug Stanhope, Paul F. Tompkins & many others are up there, but as far as making ME laugh my ass off, those four are aces.

    I am not counting Paul F on his many podcast appearances which puts him immediately in the comedy Hall Of Fame. Other than Mr Pardo; Hicks, Regan and Kilstein aren't well represented in the comedy podcast arena.

  • I tended bar at a comedy club in the early 90s, and Hicks played a couple of shows there during that time. I can confirm the silence he was often greeted with, but I can also add that a lot of the time the silence was very much of the "Holy SHIT I cannot believe what that guy just said" variety. Hicks was *scary* in person–just a wild-eyed ball of barely-contained seething venom and molten contempt. (I'm speaking only of his onstage presence; I don't think I exchanged more than a few words with the man.) He was funny as hell–the nights he played were SRO–but he was also someone you didn't feel safe to laugh at–like he might take it the wrong way and attack. You left those shows stunned and not altogether happy, but very very *awake*. So 'bravo' to your choice of hero; I concur.

  • Great choice! I think it's fair to say watching Bill as a teenager helped shape my opinion of the world. I always think it was such a loss that he died when he did; I would have loved to see what he'd have made of Bush Jr, 9/11, Iraq 2, teabaggers, IDers, etc etc. In essence I think he would have been even more relevant now than he was when he was alive. Perhaps it's just my perspective changing over the years, but it seems to me the amount of mock-worthy stupid in the world has vastly increased since his death. Man he'd have had some choice words! I can almost picture in my mind…

    Actually, come to think of it, reading your blog satisfies my needs for Hicksian ranting quite nicely. I can't think of a higher accolade than that!

  • Lack of attention for your b-day a day before Halloween?!!! Try being born right after xmas!!!

    One year my mom gave me socks. I got the right one for xmas and the left one for my birthday.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Hicks was great. And add Sam Kinison to the list of greats who died way too early.

    And even though Carlin had a pretty long life, I'd still love to have him around. Pryor, too.

  • circularreasoning says:

    I did that exact Hicks bit for an "interpretive reading" class I had in college. The first assignment was to just get up and talk for 5 minutes in front of the group. No other rules. I feel like it was one of thos points in life where an unexpected oppotunity came around that i took full advantage of, so I totally know where you are coming from!

  • I remember the heartbreak of finding a stack of the Rykodisc releases at Everyday Music in Portland, being too broke to buy them new, and staking out the section to see if people would bring in used copies. I also remember having The Talk with my boyfriend (now husband) when I found out he was a huge Denis Leary fan. Good times!

  • Dude come on let's see a video. We're like a quick search away from figuring out who you are exactly just let us see the clip.

  • Can't watch the videos right now (work, booooo!) but I still wanted to wish you a happy early birthday.

    @sluggo, I hear you–I'm a 12/29 birthday. Everyone is still tired from Christmas, and saving all of their energy for New Year's. It's really the short end of the stick.

  • @everen:
    The search for Gin and Tacos-related YouTube clips, perhaps even an entire channel, should be a very easy one.

    Did Beelzebozo play some role in your political shift? Those who lean at all right or libertarian, even big comedy nerds, almost uniformly despise Hicks.

  • @acer, found it. Thanx. :-)

    Hey Ed, I and probably many other regulars can agree, it's been a double decker shit sandwich of a year, but as I keep telling myself (and anyone who will listen,) being alive, fed, and employed beats the hell out of the alternative. I think.

    Plant the seeds.

    Oooh the anger dollar. Huge.

    This is your world, isn't it.

    (Am I laughing or crying? Can't tell sometimes.)

    Would anyone like to see my tribute to Elvis? Thanks Elvis.

    Happy Birthday Ed.

  • I got your flyer right here (libertarianeander – conserv) who likes me some Bill Hicks. He always reminds me of a mellower Sam Kinison.

    They both share conservative Christian roots which they attacked mercilessly (the religiosity part) and is probably the reason their bite is/was so hard on a significant percentage of my people. And the expected push back…


  • Happy birthday, Ed. It may have been a sucky year, but at least you spent it restoring our faith in mankind, five days out of seven (you should congratulate yourself on your work ethic, at least, if not for your effect on your readership) — no small feat, seeing how fucked-up 21st century America is.

    And if you had the guts to put up a damn tip jar, you'd even be able to have a few drinks on us on your birthday. But no, you have to be proud. Or something.

    And if you still have friends who forget about your birthday 'cause it's close to Halloween, it's high time for new friends, my man.

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