Today is the 20th anniversary of the passing of legendary comedian Bill Hicks. I’ve been contemplating his life today and wanted to revel in the spirit of his legacy for a few minutes.
Bill Hicks is one of the main people that inspired me to take up stand up comedy (which is what led to the creation of The Paul Duane Show).
I feel a certain solemnity – not a sadness, but a deep reverence, even a presence, as I contemplate the wisdom he left behind. Bill was a man on a mission. He seemed to understand the chasm between the present human condition and our ultimate powerful potential – but didn’t mourn the size of the gap. He met us where we are at, took us on a field trip to dick island, while leading our minds to a higher place.
Bill saw the comic’s stage as a place to do something more than tell a dick joke and get a quick laugh. It was his pulpit. The son of a preacher, he carried out his ministry without any fear. He was a Budha of sorts, a being that came to remind us of many truths.
Just like any other dear friend in my life, I don’t agree with everything Bill Hicks said, per se, and I don’t laugh at all of his jokes – but I know where he was coming from, and I love him for it. I was a senior in high school when he passed away. I wasn’t yet ready to hear what he had to say. I would have called him a blasphemer, a heretic, an agent of the devil… but there is a part of me that would have recognized the light and love in his words. There is a part of me that would have been horribly conflicted at the silent but unmistakable recognition that he was coming from a place of light and love – and the harshness with which he would have offended my ultra conservative Mormon sensibilities of the time. I would have loved and hated him all at the same time.
Today, I am grateful for every experience that has eroded my sharp edges and opened my heart, so that I can simply hear, recognize, and love the words that he left with us. No agenda, no predetermined conclusions, no trying to fit square pegs into round holes… I am grateful for the life of Bill Hicks. I am inspired to speak more boldly, to use humor to illuminate the difference between error and truth, and to respect the comedy stage as a place where the sacred act of opening human minds can occur.
Thank you Bill, for reminding us all that it’s just a ride: