AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY
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Ever wonder what an "outlaw comic" would be like? If you're more familiar with Comedy Central's bland lineup than, say, Lenny Bruce or George Carlin, it may be hard to imagine how yakking could put a comedian outside the bounds of legality. Although Bill Hicks was never arrested for his act, he was a "comedian's comedian" whose indelible career is articulated by this warts-and-all documentary.
British filmmakers Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock appear to take particular joy in telling Hicks's life story, perhaps because it was in the UK that the stand-up comic from Texas found his most loyal following.
The biopic runs in chronological order. It's interspersed with interview clips with friends and family and a plethora of clips from Hicks's stage performances and television appearances. When Hicks points out that America isn't "at war" because you need "two armies to have a war," it strikes at the heart of the Bush regime's practically trademarked "War on Terrorism."
Bill Hicks was an important cultural figure because he had a knack for busting authority for its many hypocrisies. He developed his skill with jokes about his family and his father in particular. Hicks began performing stand-up when he was still in high school. His humor was never "blue" per se, although he could drop a well-placed F-bomb at will.
Bill Hicks was one of those rare comedians who can capture your imagination and conjure up a world where food is fired into poor countries instead of bombs. There certainly aren't many better choices to represent the idea of what it means—or ought to mean —to be an American.
"American: The Bill Hicks Story" checks all the boxes for an entertaining and insightful documentary-bio.
Not Rated. 101 mins.
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