Bill Hicks is hands down my favorite comedian of all-time. He died 16 years ago yet his material remains as relevant today as when it was first delivered. I saw him over a dozen times and even had the opportunity to shake his hand and chat with him briefly after a show in San Francisco the year before he passed away. His comedy was not just funny but challenged people to think and I never saw one show of his where somebody didn’t walk out, having been offended. Below is his Wikipedia entry:
William Melvin “Bill” Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian and social critic. His humor challenged mainstream beliefs, aiming to “enlighten people to think for themselves.” Hicks used a ribald approach to express his material, describing himself as “Chomsky with dick jokes.” His jokes included general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy and personal issues. Hicks’ material was often deliberately controversial and steeped in dark comedy. In both his stand-up performances, and during interviews, he often criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity and banality within the media and popular culture, describing them as oppressive tools of the ruling class, meant to “keep people stupid and apathetic.”
Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. In the years after his death, Hicks’ work and legacy achieved significant admiration and acclaim.
His family have kept his memory alive and have an “official” Bill Hicks website they maintain. The website also includes links to purchase his CDs, DVDs and books. I would encourage everyone to listen to Bill. There is also a feature-length documentary film about Bill Hicks coming out later this year called American: The Bill Hicks Story.
Bill Hicks Quotations
- “Here is my final point. About drugs, about alcohol, about pornography and smoking and everything else. What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take into my body – as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?”
- “No, I don’t do drugs anymore, either. But I’ll tell you something about drugs. I used to do drugs, but I’ll tell you something honestly about drugs, honestly, and I know it’s not a very popular idea, you don’t hear it very often anymore, but it is the truth: I had a great time doing drugs. Sorry. Never murdered anyone, never robbed anyone, never raped anyone, never beat anyone, never lost a job, a car, a house, a wife or kids, laughed my ass off, and went about my day.”
- “Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration – that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we’re the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.”
- I’ve noticed a certain anti-intellectualism going around this country; since about 1980, oddly enough. … I was in Nashville, Tennessee, and after the show I went to a Waffle House. I’m not proud of it, but I was hungry. And I’m sitting there eating and reading a book. I don’t know anybody, I’m alone, so I’m reading a book. The waitress comes over to me like, [gum smacking] “What’chu readin’ for?” I had never been asked that. Not “What am I reading?”, but “What am I reading for?” Goddangit, you stumped me. Hmm, why do I read? I suppose I read for a lot of reasons, one of the main ones being so I don’t end up being a fucking waffle waitress.
- I was in a cab in New York. The cab had a sign, “Please do not smoke, Christ is our unseen guest.” This guy was reaching. I figure, if He could overcome being nailed to a cross, I don’t think a Marlboro Light’s gonna faze Him that much.
- They tell us “Rock’n’roll is the devil’s music.” Well, let’s say we know that rock is the the devil’s music, and we know that it is, for sure… At least he fuckin’ jams! If it’s a choice between eternal Hell and good tunes, and eternal Heaven and New Kids on the fuckin’ Block…I’m gonna be surfin’ on the lake of fire, rockin’ out.
- I just have one of those faces. People come up to me and say, “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Well, it takes more energy to frown than it does to smile.” “Yeah, you know it takes more energy to point that out than it does to leave me alone?”
- You see, I think drugs have done some good things for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes and all your CDs and burn them. ‘Cause you know what, the musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were rrreal fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.
- People often ask me where I stand politically. It’s not that I disagree with Bush’s economic policy or his foreign policy, it’s that I believe he was a child of Satan sent here to destroy the planet Earth. Little to the left.
- I was walking through Central Park, and I saw an old man smoking. Nothing makes a smoker happier than to see an old person smoking. This guy was ancient, bent over a walker, puffing away. I’m like, “Duuude, you’re my hero! Guy your age smoking, man, it’s great.” He goes, “What? I’m 28.”
- I’m glad mushrooms are against the law, because I took them one time, and you know what happened to me? I laid in a field of green grass for four hours going, “My God! I love everything.” Yeah, now if that isn’t a hazard to our country … how are we gonna keep building nuclear weapons, you know what I mean? What’s gonna happen to the arms industry when we realize that we’re all one?!
- “God put [dinosaur fossils] here to test our faith!” … I think God put you here to test my faith, dude. Does that bother anybody else, the idea that God might be fucking with our heads? I have trouble sleeping with that knowledge, some prankster god runnin’ around, [pantomimes digging] “We’ll see who believes in me now.”
- Go back to bed, America. Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again. Here. Here’s American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up. Go back to bed, America. Here is American Gladiators. Here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go, America! You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!
- The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever. Because this is just a ride.” And we…kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok? But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, not work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.
- People say to me, “Bill, quit bringing up Kennedy, man. Let it go. It was a long time ago. Just forget about it.” All right, then don’t bring up Jesus to me. I mean, as long as we’re talking shelf-life here. “You know, Bill, Jesus died for you …” Yeah, it was a long time ago. Forget about it. How about this: get Pilate to release the fuckin’ files. Quit washing your hands, Pilate, and release the files. Who else was on that grassy Golgotha that day?
- People suck, and that’s my contention. I can prove it on a scratch paper and pen. Give me a fucking Etch-a-sketch, I’ll do it in three minutes. The proof, the fact, the factorum. I’ll show my work, case closed. I’m tired of this back-slapping “Aren’t humanity neat?” bullshit. We’re a virus with shoes, okay? That’s all we are.
- I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. “I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.” “I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.” “Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!” “Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control. Here’s Love Connection. Watch this and get fat and stupid, you fucking morons.”
- The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love. That’s the message we’re brought up with, isn’t it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options.
- I know this is not a very popular idea. You don’t hear it too often any more … but it’s the truth. I have taken drugs before and … I had a real good time. Sorry. Didn’t murder anybody, didn’t rape anybody, didn’t rob anybody, didn’t beat anybody, didn’t lose – hm – one fucking job, laughed my ass off, and went about my day. Sorry. Now, where’s my commercial?
- “You believe the world’s 12 thousand years old? “That’s right.” Okay I got one word to ask you, a one word question, ready? “Uh huh.” Dinosaurs. You know the world’s 12 thousand years old and dinosaurs existed, they existed in that time, you’d think it would have been mentioned in the fucking Bible at some point. “And lo Jesus and the disciples walked to Nazareth. But the trail was blocked by a giant brontosaurus…with a splinter in his paw. And O the disciples did run a shriekin’: ‘What a big fucking lizard, Lord!’ But Jesus was unafraid and he took the splinter from the brontosaurus’s paw and the big lizard became his friend.”
- “The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly coloured and it’s very loud and it’s fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: “Is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, “Hey, don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we kill those people.”
- “I believe that God left certain drugs growing naturally upon our planet to help speed up and facilitate our evolution. OK, not the most popular idea ever expressed. Either that or you’re all real high and agreeing with me in the only way you can right now. (Starts blinking)”
- “It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.”
- “You know we armed Iraq. I wondered about that too, you know during the Persian Gulf war those intelligence reports would come out: “Iraq: incredible weapons – incredible weapons.” How do you know that? “Uh, well…we looked at the receipts.””
- “Christianity has a built-in defense system: anything that questions a belief, no matter how logical the argument is, is the work of Satan by the very fact that it makes you question a belief. It’s a very interesting defense mechanism and the only way to get by it — and believe me, I was raised Southern Baptist — is to take massive amounts of mushrooms, sit in a field, and just go, “Show me.””
- “You know all that money we spend on the military ever year — trillions of dollars? Instead, if we use this money to feed and clothe the poor of this world, which it would do many times over, then we can explore space, inner and outer, together, as one race.”
- “See we just had a misunderstanding. I thought we lived in the U.S. of A., the United States of America. But actually we live in the U.S. of A., the United States of Advertising. Freedom of expression is guaranteed? If you’ve got the money!”
- “Because you know if you play New Kids on the Block albums backwards they sound better. “Oh come on, Bill, they’re the New Kids, don’t pick on them, they’re so good and they’re so clean cut and they’re such a good image for the children.” Fuck that! When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children to listen to people who fucking ROCKED! I don’t care if they died in puddles of their own vomit! I want someone who plays from his fucking HEART!”
- “People say “Iraq had the fourth largest army in the world”. Yeah, maybe, but you know what, after the first 3 largest armies, there’s a REAL big fucking drop-off. The Hare Krishnas are the 5th largest army in the world, and they’ve already got all our airports.”
- “Does anyone here work in advertising or marketing? Well if you do, when you get home take a gun shoot yourself. No bullshit, I’m not joking just do it. I’m just sowing seeds, one day they may take root.”