I did a short interview yesterday with talk show host Marc Germain at http://www.talkradioone.com about my old friend the late, great comic Bill Hicks. You can hear the interview on Marc’s Web Site wwwtalkradioone.com.
Bill died at age 31 fifteen years ago but is still a cult celebrity among comedy mavens. His last national television appearance was on the Letterman show. The set was cut due to controversial content. It was aired last Friday by CBS with Bill’s mom making an appearance on the show. Letterman was profusely apologetic about the censorship of the material fifteen years ago. You can watch the set at the link below or find it all over the internet.
Before I get into this next bit let me say I was a huge fan of Bill’s. I was honored to have been a friend and of having had the chance to watch him develop as an artist from the Comic’s Annex in Houston to being a major force in comedy both here and in Great Britain. This set, even though it has some very funny bits is not Hicks at his best.
I am not sure why Letterman cut the segment back in 1993. Some thought it was because of his roasting of gays or pro lifers. Other thought it was his attack on Christians for wearing crosses I think it was the opening minute where he called for, in a comic way, the killing of some celebrities he didn’t like. I’m still of the opinion that the opening minute is unacceptable for broadcast television. I am sure that many find Bill’s take on the Pro Life movement offensive. I am sure other would find his ribbing of gay children’s books homophobic and his take on smoking in heaven a little over the line but comedy is supposed to be offensive and irreverent. However, it should never advocate violence against individuals even in a comic way.
If Hicks had gone on TV and said he had a new show called “Let’s Hunt Down and Kill Bill Clinton.” instead of Billy Ray Cyrus he could have been arrested. When Alec Baldwin was on Conan and “joked” about killing Henry Hyde and his family I was outraged. It wasn’t funny when Alec Baldwin did it; it’s a crime if you name the wrong person and even though we may not like Billy Ray Cyrus or the others Bill named at the top of his monologue calling for violence against anyone on national TV is morally objectionable.
I think Dave was right to use his good judgment back in 1993. Maybe he’s been in New York too long but the opening minute of this set still isn’t funny and shouldn’t be shown on the public airwaves.