American: The Bill Hicks Story

“I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.” – Bill Hicks.

I have been a fan of Bill Hicks ever since I saw Totally Bill Hicks just shortly after his death in 1994. I was already aware of Lenny Bruce, having nicked his book How To Talk Dirty And Influence People from my Dad’s bookshelf when I was about fifteen, and it seemed to me that Bill Hicks was the natural progression from Lenny; a comedian who could make you laugh and make you think at the same time.

American: The Bill Hicks Story is a documentary film made by Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas which traces Hicks’ life from his beginnings in Valdosta, Georgia, with his Southern Baptist family, through his turbulent career, to his eventual death, aged 32, of pancreatic cancer.

The documentary is notable for the cut and paste animation technique which is beautiful to watch and much more interesting than the usual “interview straight to camera” format of such films.

For a Hicks fan, the documentary is an interesting stylish look at the comedian by ten of his closest friends and family.  However it doesn’t do more than scratch the surface of this fascinating comedian and I found myself wanting more detailed information about the inspiration for his comedy and about his legacy.  If you know nothing about Hicks, American is a good place to start, but I’d recommend buying Love All The People for a more detailed look at his stand-up.

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