As 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of US comedian Bill Hicks, local actor and South West College Performing Arts student Jody McCormick pays tribute to the American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist and musician, in a self-penned and acted performance to be staged at the Burnavon theatre, Cookstown on Friday 4th April.
Hicks’ material, encompassing a wide range of social issues as well as religion, politics, and philosophy, was controversial and often steeped in dark comedy. He criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity, and banality within the media and popular culture, which he characterized as ‘oppressive tools of the ruling class that keep people stupid and apathetic.’
Jody is a huge fan of Bill Hicks and has spent months researching his life and work to write a routine that brings his philosophy and satirical brand of humour right into the 21st Century. He told the MAIL, ‘Much of Hicks’s routine involved direct attacks on mainstream society, religion, politics, and consumerism. Asked in a BBC interview why he couldn’t do a routine that appealed to everyone, he said that such an act was impossible. He responded by repeating a comment that an audience member once made to him, “We don’t come to comedy to think!” to which he replied, “Gee, where do you go to think? I’ll meet you there!” As I’ve written my routine in the style of Bill, I’ve tried to keep to this philosophy as a guide.
‘This year, I could have chosen to do any performance for my course, and I chose Bill because his messages resonate strongly with me. Inviting people to think about serious issues while also making them laugh – that’s his legacy and what I admire most about his life.’
During the 1980s, Hicks toured the United States extensively and made a number of high-profile television appearances; but it was in the UK that he amassed a significant fan base, filling large venues during his 1991 tour. He recorded the Revelations video for Channel 4, and closed the show with his soon-to become-famous philosophy regarding life, ‘It’s Just a Ride’, which Jody has chosen for his performance title.
Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer on February 26, 1994 in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the young age of 32. In subsequent years – in particular after a series of posthumous album releases – his body of work gained a significant measure of acclaim in creative circles, and he developed a substantial cult following. In 2007, he was voted the fourth greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s list of the UK’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and he maintained that ranking on the 2010 list.
‘It’s Just A Ride: A celebration of Bill Hicks’ is at the Burnavon on Friday 4th April at 8pm (over 16s recommended).
Tickets are £10 (£8 concession), and are on sale now from the Burnavon Box Office on 028 8676 9949 or online at www.burnavon.com