22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat interesting
I was given this volume of writings and transcriptions of Bill Hicks by someone who was under the mistaken impression that I was a fan of Hicks. So I read it, and found it of greater interest than I had anticipated.
One thing that struck me was that comedy was really only a secondary feature of Hicks' work. Primarily, he was a social critic and something of a...
Published on 1 Jan 2010 by Guardian of the Scales
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What might have been
Bill Hicks was the most influencial and significant comedian of his generation. Virtually ignored in America during his lifetime his sudden demise to cancer was all the more tragic as he was on the cusp of the success he had long sought for. "Love all the people" has attempted to bring together all his material in one volume, providing a reference point for long time...
Published on 8 Mar 2004 by J. Smith
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat interesting,
This review is from: Love All the People (Paperback)I was given this volume of writings and transcriptions of Bill Hicks by someone who was under the mistaken impression that I was a fan of Hicks. So I read it, and found it of greater interest than I had anticipated.
One thing that struck me was that comedy was really only a secondary feature of Hicks' work. Primarily, he was a social critic and something of a philosopher. He was a relentless critic of politicians, the media and of hypocrisy in all its guises. He had a complete, and possibly naïve, faith in the essential goodness of humankind, blaming capitalism for the problems in American society. He also talked about God a lot, and referred often to the teachings of Jesus, often to point out the ways in which organized Christianity deviated from the teachings of their prophet. He saw his own task as being to force his audience to hear their own inner voice of reason, beneath the incessant hum of the agenda-driven and fear-mongering mass media. Another central theme for Hicks was drugs: he wanted them legalized, on the grounds that alcohol causes more destruction than any illegal substance. Hicks' politics did not help him win mainstream media coverage in the USA, and his fame in his own lifetime was greater in Britain.
This volume also contains the original treatment for Hicks' intended TV show for Channel 4, "The Counts of the Netherworld"; a bizarre affair, highly ambitious, quite pretentious, with little apparent humour. It features a manifesto in poetic form from Hicks, proclaiming himself to be "the Voice of Reason/ In a world gone mad, adrift on banal seas". Hicks was nothing if not earnest, bringing an evangelical zeal to his mission to "enlighten people to think for themselves". He was cynical about society, but he never extended this to people. He never really explained why, either, if people are so good, society is so, in his view, bad. He had, I think, a psychological need to believe in the goodness of people and the meaningfulness of life. This becomes even clearer in his last writings, when he knew he was not far from death. He becomes almost sentimental. He never seems to have stopped looking for his parents' approval, either, still trying to convert them to the music he liked on his death bed. The deadpan persona hid a sensitive, insecure individual who longed for acceptance and fellowship. But his foremost allegiance was to truth and in his pursuit of this he certainly showed himself to be a man of integrity, and integrity is the one thing we look for in our cultural icons these days. As to whether he was a genius, I'm not so sure, unless one can be said to have a genius for integrity. Many in Hicks' wake have faked this characteristic successfully enough, but Hicks was the real thing, one cannot deny him that.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the world to catch up,
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rebuttal,
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that drove me to tears...,
This book made me realise how much we need Bill today. What he had to say still seems relevant ten years after his untimely death. Though there is repetition in this book with some of the material, no two transcripts in this book are the same and you can sense Bill's passion for what he was saying and you can hear his voice saying it. This book is an extremely worthy item to add to the collection of Bill Hicks memorabilia. As well as transcripts of some of his best shows, there are also magazine articles, letters sent from Bill and Bill's own poetry and other writings. Some of these were so beautiful that they made me cry. Mainly because they were written so close to his death, but also because he creates such wonderfully perfect imagery. He often referred to himself as a 'dark poet', but he could be the opposite too.
This is a book that made me laugh and cry out loud. It also saved me at times of great boredom. There's only so many episodes of 'Keeping Up Appearances' you can watch with your Nan without wanting to take some kind of drastic action. Thank you Bill! A job well done by John Lahr.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars one for the die-hards,
A few minor complaints, though... while the repetitive nature of the book isn't cause to whinge about the editing, there are a few pretty laughable errors and omissions in the transcripts. I mean, seriously... "dixie cokes"? What, they couldn't drag an American into the office for an afternoon to explain what a Dixie Cup is? Or take the footnote explaining who Clarence Thomas was/is, which manages to identify him quite accurately, but leaves out any mention of the sexual harrassment hearings which were the whole point of Bill's reference to him. And there are lots of little (...) symbols representing theoretically unintelligble words, most of which could have been easily translated by anyone familiar with southern diction.
But these are relatively minor points... it's great to have the routines written out, and wonderful to have all this new material. I think the editors might have been a bit lazy on the details, but we in the United States can hardly complain since nobody at all here has seen fit to print this volume. Definitely worth a money for the serious Hicks admirer.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Go to sleep, America! Shut up and watch this!,
This review is from: Love All the People (Paperback)As radical and as contraversial as Bill Hicks was during his comedic career, his humour still has much contemporary value, and it's great to see a book that not only condenses some of Hicks' more volatile moments, but also shows us a little of the man behind the mouth.
The book primarily serves up several word-by-word passages of Hicks' routines in certain places at certain times of his career. Admittedly, much of the material repeats in several chapters, and reading a stand-up comedian's comic routine on paper without getting all the infections, gestures, and energy does weaken the material, but even then, the strength of his convictions, the vitriol that he has to vent on the media, the US government, pro-lifers, non-smokers and parents is astoundingly astute, and surprisingly contemporary, even though it's been over 10 years since his death.
At times, I was shocked enough to laugh out loud when a new routine cropped up that just tickled me in the right way, but as he says in several interviews, his comedy was merely what he saw when he held the light of reason up to the world. He was a believer in a better world, and a despiser of anything that surpressed and restrained the human spirit. Influenced in equal parts by Woody Allen and Noam Chomsky, his observations still ring true today, and contemporary bookshop activists such as Michael Moore are still trying to catch up.
Read this, and see why Bill Hicks is posthumously remembered as a revolutionary comedy legend!
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The funniest dead man in the world,
It's all here in this amazing collection of his work, but some particular Hicks highlights include his 'rants' about:
The Gulf War:- Soldier 1: "What does this one do?", Soldier 2: "Says here it destroys everything except the fillings in their teeth...", Soldier 1: "Cool!'"
On smoking - "This for all you non-smokers out there, you and you only, because I know for a fact that you don't know this. Ready? Non-smokers die every day!"
Gun culture in the USA - (After a sighting of a UFO in some forsaken backwater town) Hicks (asking a local): "Why did you bring a gun?", Local: "Incase they try to abduct me...", Hicks: "What, and leave all this?"
On general stupidity, in a waffle house - Waffle waitress: "What you readin' for?" Hicks: "What am I reading FOR? Geez, you stumped me..., I could understand 'What am I reading?' but 'What am I reading FOR?... hmmm, I'm dunno... maybe coz I don't want to be a f***in' waffle waitress?"
On sex (I paraphrase) - "You know that the next thing to go in the evolution of man is that extra disc in our spines that stops us from performing fellatio on ourselves. If men could do that, the women in the audience would be here tonight by themselves... watching an empty stage!"
Bill Hicks was a supernova of comedy. He lived faster, burned brighter (and ultimately died younger) than the rest, and it was reflected in his unique comic talent. This book serves as a testament to that talent.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Repetetive but worth it,
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Someone who spoke the truth,
This review is from: Love All the People (Paperback)This book will really change the way you think about everything political and beyond. You may not agree with what Hicks says but you have to have respect for a man who dare to get up on stage and say it.
He is a genius and I only wish he was here, still doing his routines. It would have been great to know what he thought of the world today. I found his ideas refreshing and I promise that you will find yourself laughing at the most awful things. His quotes are inspiring and his routines are truly his own.
This book has really got me thinking. I never understood the idea of reading a book that changed your life...until now.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laugh. You'll only cry otherwise,
This review is from: Love All the People (Paperback)Like almost all anti-establishment figures who died before their time, Bill's premature death served to seal his reputation as an almost godlike figure. Easy to be cynical about that of course, but also worth remembering that to be timeless you need a special something in the first place. Bill was no saint, no genius, and his arguments were not always as watertight as they might at first have appeared. But reading his material 16 years on - and reflecting on everything that's happened since - he seems, if not quite godlike, then at least the closest we got to a pre-millenial prophet. And a funny one at that. Much of his continued popularity lies in the simple fact that his material is still so painfully relevant; his vital injection of unhinged sanity more desperately required than ever.
Reading his denunciation of the first Gulf War and President Bush Sr, you can't help but reflect on the ample material he'd have had to work with during the Bush Jr era and the invasion of Iraq. Reading his take on the safe and soulless manufactured pop of the 80s and 90s, you long to hear him let rip on the proliferation of reality TV. Reading his caustic lampooning of reactionary Republicans, you wonder what he'd have had to say about the Tea Party movement. It's impossible not to ponder these things and wonder how the focus of his work might have changed had he remained with us. Was he all set to have become a lightning rod for reason? Or for spirituality? Was he destined to become a leading light of the late 90s anti-globalisation movement? Or a researcher of '9/11 truth'? It's possible to find seeds for all of these and more in the later routines covered in this collection.
Of course one of the most moving things about reading this book is knowing what lies ahead. Several 1993 performances feature Bill joking with the audience about how this would be his last show ever. He knew the real reason of course, but he didn't let on. Also included here is his 31 page letter to John Lahr revealing his devastation at being the first ever comedy act to be cut from the Letterman show. (Letterman would later take full responsibility for that decision and in 2009 finally air the routine in its entirety in the presence of Bill's mother as guest.) Another fascinating inclusion is the script for the pilot episode of a new Channel 4 talk show, Counts of the Netherworld. This would eventually be screened in 2004 on the tenth anniversary of his death.
Transcripts are always going to be an incomplete way to experience a performance, but thankfully the transcripts here are faithfully recounted down to each hesitation and word stumble (and for anyone familiar with Hicks's routines, it's really not hard to pull the missing flourishes and contortions from your head). Unsurprisingly this is a book with no shortage of laugh out loud material, but the additional letters and lyrics give the reader a fascinating insight into Bill Hicks the man. Original, challenging, and well-meaning, he wasn't perfect but he was mostly on the right track, and, to coin a phrase, one of life's good guys. If you identify with that feeling of being caught between both loving humanity and fast losing faith in it, read this book, smile, and take comfort in the fact that at least one man was feeling much the same way almost two decades ago.
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Love All the People by Bill Hicks (Paperback - 26 May 2005)