Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Follow us on social
  • They Both Die at the End – General Review
    Summer break is the perfect opportunity to get back into reading. Adam Silvera’s (2017) novel, They Both Die at the End, can serve as a stepping stone into the realm of reading. The pace is fast, action-packed, and develops loveable characters. Also, Silvera switches point of view each chapter where narration mainly focuses on the protagonists, […]
  • My Favorite Book – Freshwater
    If there’s one book that I believe everyone should read once in their life, it’s my favorite book – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. From my course, Queer Literature under Dr. Bill Albertini, I discovered Emezi’s Freshwater (2018). Once more, my course, Creative Writing Thesis Workshop under Professor Amorak Huey, was instructed to present our favorite […]

Letterman finally apologizes after 15 years for censoring Hick’s skit

Few emotions are more difficult to express than genuine, deep regret.

Last Friday, on “Late Night,” David Letterman made a respectable attempt for atonement. His crime occurred over 15 years ago, when a rising comic by the name of Bill Hicks made his 12 appearance on the show, only to have it censored and unaired.

Struggling at the time with pancreatic cancer, the setback could have cost Hicks his big break. He tragically died a few months later at the age of 32.

Mary Hicks, Bill’s mother, was on the show to accept Letterman’s apology. It’s unclear how much damage Letterman’s censoring of Hicks’s routine actually caused, but on Friday night, the controversial sketch finally aired. And it left many wondering where the controversy ever was in the first place.

As Letterman said after watching the sketch, it strongly suggests Bill Hicks was ahead of his time. Doing most of his well-known comedy in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Bill’s most frequent targets were corporate pop stars like the New Kids on the Block and Reagan and Bush, Sr.-era Republicans.

None of this is really new, and it isn’t as though politicians and pop culture are original targets for a comedian’s barbs. But Bill took the comedy to an entirely different level, offering a message along with it.

His routines had far less to do with scoring cheap laughs off the pop stars in question and far more to do with exposing the deeply rooted mediocrity at the core of society. For Hicks, television and radio were just there to soften the audience up for the commercials in between segments.

When the material was political, Hicks was as unforgiving and irreverent as Lenny Bruce and as sharp and intelligent as Mort Sahl. Perhaps the most representative joke dealt with Pentagon analysts during the first Gulf War: when pressing Pentagon officials for evidence as to how they knew Iraq possessed significant quantities of incredible weapons of mass destruction, the Pentagon replied: “We looked at the receipts.”

Remarkably, even though it was recorded over 15 years ago, the routine aired on Letterman’s show Friday night hadn’t aged a day. Sure, the references were a little antiquated – but it wouldn’t be difficult, when talking about banality and mediocrity in pop culture, to replace Billy Ray Cyrus with his daughter Miley, or to swap Michael Bolton out and talk about Fall Out Boy instead.

If anything, the times we live in now may be catching up to Hicks and his philosophy. Some of what Hicks had been trying to expose for much of his career was brought straight to the surface, where Americans could no longer avoid it, during the Bush administration. Rampant commercialism, corruption and outright criminal activity at the highest levels of government – all of these were important elements in Hicks’s comedy.

Above all else, though, Hicks was funny. One of my personal favorite lines of his dealt with being offered to be a spokesperson for a product called “Orange Drink” by a British soft drink company. Hicks’s response to the offer encapsulated his entire persona: “You know, when I’m out ranting about elite power that controls the world under a totalitarian government which uses the media in order to keep people stupid, my throat gets parched. That’s why I drink Orange Drink.”

Bill’s reintroduction to a mass audience on Letterman’s program last night is indicative of a reopening of society. Comedians today talk very little about serious subject matter, and when they do, it’s very often unsophisticated. But throughout history, some of the most pointed social observations have come from comedians, whether they are writers, like Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain or Joseph Heller; or stand-ups like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Bill Hicks.

The comedy of Bill Hicks was all about evolving ideas, moving humanity forward in the way we think about and perceive the world. Notions of inequality based on race, gender or sexuality were completely torn down in his comedy. Authority was constantly being called into question, from the Waco debacle to the War on Drugs.

Hicks’s voice is one of the most important unheard voices of the last several decades. Letterman’s efforts to undo past mistakes were admirable, and hopefully, a whole new generation of young people will listen to Hicks and be motivated much as I was upon first hearing him.

Change may have come to the White House, but it won’t come to the country until we bring it. Hicks is something of an intellectual figurehead in certain progressive philosophies, and his is one of the few messages which could help make the world a better place. Which is more than I can say for Dane Cook, anyway.

Leave a Comment
Donate to BG Falcon Media
$1325
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Bowling Green State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to BG Falcon Media
$1325
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All BG Falcon Media Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *