I’ve been hearing about a bit of a backlash against my hero Bill Hicks. The gist of it is that modern day comedians are saying he is degrading to women. First of all I’m not sure why they’re saying that, I could have read through the article more, but it just seems like a waste of time. To me it’s just people shouting loudly, saying stuff they think that matters but actually doesn’t change a thing.
It was 30 years ago, different times, different attitudes all round. It’s easy to look back from your own perspective of what should have happened, but that’s a bit naive and childish do you not think?
So you won’t be surprised to hear that I don’t find his material offensive, just like I don’t find Richard Pryor’s stuff about wanting to have sex with his daughters 15 year old friend offensive. It was a different time….
And by Different time, I don’t mean that it was ok to go around and say that sort of stuff (because it wasn’t BTW) , I mean if you said something like that on stage, people understood it was A JOKE, and incredibly shocking joke but if you have some empathy you can understand that weird point of view and way of thinking… and that is funny, thats why you are there as an audience member … (Do you know what I mean ?).
If that means from your own perspective that they were exhibiting toxic masculinity , well then yea, that is what you call it now, but back then everyone laughed. It was funny as fuck. Hicks and Pryor are both now legends…
Part of me thinks that some of this outrage is just a way of getting attention because infact, it is not fair because they are not following “the rules” …
Most up and coming comedians are walking on egg shells
Most up and coming comedians are walking on egg shells when they get on stage. Naturally they don’t want to upset anyone because they are there to make people happy…. but outrage culture is so swift and brutal, they could end a career in a few days sitting on the toilet with a smart phone… Just for saying one wrong thing, or just for having a bad gig… say the wrong thing and your branded for life…
Hicks and Pryor are legends because of their brutal honesty.
So where is the honesty ? If everyone is afraid to speak about what is on their mind, but instead need to traverse a gauntlet of sensitivities and outrage, how can the stand up comedian have freedom on stage ? They don’t.
And so when they look back at Bill Hicks THEY feel outraged, because he is not playing by the rules…. (which are well defined by the way) .. And then we all have to read about their outrage on social media ……… or at least read a headline and a couple of comments… assume you know what the story is about and then write this blog piece about it.