Bill Hicks: Slight Return

Unity Theatre 7th May 2005
By Chas Early and Richard Hurst

Reviewed By Kenn Taylor

Eleven years ago one of America’s most biting stand-up comedians died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 34. Though only really a cult success in his lifetime, Bill Hicks has become ever more popular and worshipped since his death, and is seen as the gold standard by which all other social-commentating comedians must be measured. He has been sorely missed, but his popularity has been resurrected by video and CD sales that massively outstrip that sold during his life.

In this new one-man show Chas Early goes one step further, representing Hicks as back from the dead and coming down from heaven to look upon the world that he left behind. Needless to say, he doesn’t like what he sees.

Updating Hicks material ten years on doesn’t require that many changes. There’s still a Bush in the White House, America is still bombing the world, the corporations still have control of our minds and drugs are still - frustratingly for Bill - illegal. In fact he sees the only change for the better since his death as being the easy availability of internet porn.

He rants against the use of 9/11 as an excuse for everything and liberals who watch Michel Moore films in their GAP clothes and complain to their friends about capitalism afterwards while drinking in Starbucks. He wonders what the point was in all his work when nothing has really changed and Coldplay and Dido are in the charts.

The thought of anyone trying to impersonate Hicks is enough to fill any fan with dread, despite this Early manages to pull it off well. He bears more than a striking resemblance to the comedian and has everything down to a t - from his accent and stage presence to the way he holds a cigarette. His social comment remains just as biting “It becomes easier to ignore the warnings on cigarette packets when you’ve already died of cancer”. Blink and you really could be watching Hicks.

As well as pulling off as good an impersonation of Hicks as had he been still been with us, Early manages to comment on the myth of Hicks. Like so many others would he have eventually got tired and sold-out had he lived, like Princess Di he asks, “Was death my best career move?”

An original and hilarious show, it was a must for any Hicks fan.

Printer friendly page