Outlaw Comic: The Censoring of Bill Hicks

Outlaw Comic: The Censoring of Bill Hicks
Directed by Andy Schatzberg

“People are frustrated with not having their voice of reason confirmed and everyone has that voice of reason that goes ‘this is bull man, what I’m watching is bull,’ and yet the media does not confirm it, so after a while, people begin to think they are insane. And that’s the bummer about it and that’s why I love non-mainstream stuff because you actually hear honest emotions, and that’s what you won’t hear on mainstream TV ever, is honest emotions.” -Bill Hicks

He called himself the dark poet, a rock and roll comic out to shatter America’s fundamental beliefs about entertainment, religion, sex, business, and politics. The New Yorker Magazine called him a renegade comic genius and a class all his own. Rolling Stone named him ‘Hot comic of the year’. Fans like Radiohead, Tool, and Rage Against the Machine dedicated albums to him. And comedians like Dennis Miller, Richard Belzer, and Brett Butler admired his unrelenting passion.

In a country where Full House, Tiffany, and Diet Coke commercials ruled the airwaves, Bill Hicks thought-provoking, boundary-crossing brand of comedy never reached the mainstream audience. Meanwhile in England, his work aired uncut on national television and he played to standing room only crowds who watched him speak out uncensored against American apathy.

On October 1st, 1993 in his final battle in a ten year war with censorship, Bill Hicks became the first comedy act to be completely cut from the David Letterman show. It wasn’t his language, but his anti-establishment jokes that had broadcasters too scared to put him on the air and the outlaw comic was silenced forever.