American: The Bill Hicks Story | Chicago Reader

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Rated NR · 106 minutes · 2010

Stand-up comedian Bill Hicks was that rare cult hero who qualified as a hero, period. In the depths of the Reagan-Bush years, he unleashed a brilliant comic tirade against state power and small-mindedness that made him a sensation in the UK but doomed him in the U.S. (his last network TV appearance, on Late Show With David Letterman, famously wound up on the cutting room floor). For this 2009 British documentary, Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas follow Hicks from his childhood in suburban Houston to his untimely death from cancer at age 32, drawing on interviews with those closest to him (his mother and siblings, his Texas buddies, his early compatriots on the comedy circuit) for a surprisingly intimate and touching portrait. The video's main drawback is a relative dearth of clips showing Hicks in his ferocious prime, so if you come away from this wondering what all the fuss is about, check out one of the six CDs (the best is Arizona Bay) or two DVDs (Sane Man, Bill Hicks Live) that represent his artistic legacy, and prepare to have your eyebrows singed off.
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Director: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas
Producer: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas
Cast: Bill Hicks, Kevin Booth, John Farneti, Lynn Hicks, Mary Hicks, Steve Hicks, Andy Huggins, David Johndrow, James Ladmirault and Dwight Slade

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