What Would Bill Hicks Do?
A book review: Love All the People — Letters, Lyrics and Routines
Bill Hicks died when I was 7 years old. Unsure of when my first exposure to Hick’s satirical dissemination of society exactly was, there’s a vague dream-like memory that’s stuck with me, sitting crossed legged on the floor watching him speak during one of his stand-ups on our four channel TV. Captivated but paying little mind to the importance of his words, I imagine going back to winding the tape round with a pencil on my Take That album before throwing myself around my room to the cheesy rhythm of early 90’s pop.
At age 24, the urge became stronger to absorb more of his words. Becoming obsessed, it seemed that everything he said was relevant to the world of 2011. Every single documentary and stand-up via YouTube was readily watched, everything found to read on the internet was gladly gobbled up; with every quote, finding a connection in the values he had presented.
The following year, traipsing across fields at a festival, I found his face spray painted on an old blues record. I wasn’t trippin’, it was there hanging and twisting in the sunshine, his eyes followed me like one of those old spooky paintings. Floating towards the disk, unable to take my eyes off his, the owner sidled up to me.
The artist happened to be a Bogon. Have you ever met one?
A peculiar Australian creature of the human kind, not particularly deadly, but certainly lively. Turns out this Bogon, let’s call him Dan, with his entangled hair forming a tail at the nape of his neck and dirty bare feet, created this work of art through a simple spinning wooden contraption. He came from the Northern Territory, having lived there a year before, we bonded over shared stories of outback lawlessness, the desert and our mutual love of Hicks.
He sold me the painting for £5, sliding it carefully inside a Frankie Goes to Hollywood — When Two Tribes Go to War record sleeve. It couldn’t be any more of a perfect ode to Hicks.
It’s five years’ on and I am nearing the end of a book on Hick’s career: Love All the People — Letters, Lyrics and Routines. With every opinion, statement, formation of savage satire, it’s poignantly applicable to today. Every source of his comedy is still present, ten-fold.
Genuinely, I believe if he were alive, this bizarre human creation we have become, could have been the death of him; or at the very least responsible for pushing him into next level nihilist dropping-out misanthropy.
He knew nothing of smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, the Kardashians… imagine Hicks watching an episode of Geordie Shore; the third Iraq war (read what he says about Clinton’s involvement with Iraq), the arms trade, the Syrian war…
His verbal destruction of the USA and it’s Presidents would be next to none. Had he been alive to see Donald Trump, the Prince of Capitalism Darkness Sexual Predator Reality Star, be voted in as President of the United States, this might have been the final nail in the coffin of Hick’s theory of the Collective Consciousness.
“I ascribe to the philosophy of Gentle Anarchy. I believe people are inherently GOOD, and left to their own devices — with the free exchange of ideas and information — a joyful lightness would spread across the face of our dour world”
The crux of his beliefs came down to FREEDOM. To be Free to make your own choices, on what you put in your body and what you do with it. To rid the world of guilt, shame and legality.
He believed that we are still evolving, mentally and emotionally; that eventually there will be light, as we reach a stage of Collective Consciousness, through the sharing of ideas and information.
He died before the internet burst. There was deep rooted manipulation and distractions before the commercialisation of the internet but there is a chance our evolution can be powered through this, instead we use it in the majority for cats, memes and a myriad of other distractions. Maybe that’s true mental Freedom.
Now, despite access to all information, Facebook thinks it needs to educate on fake news; the irony isn’t lost on me, I don’t know about you.
Whilst in Lesvos, writing about the interactions I had with people reaching Europe for the need of ultimate safety, I did a little test one day via Instagram. Frustrated a certain number of people were reading my human interest stories, when my intention for writing was for easier to understand information, the sharing of the idea that we are all migrants, showing our shared humanity — I posted a photo of me standing in a refugee camp holding a stray kitten.
Instant likes, ten fold, comments even, from friends especially. Far more than the photos of the smiling adorable children or the photos linking stories of sheer bravery and resilience. Maybe it was me, it was my writing, maybe I wasn’t making the point emphatically enough.
“No, it’s just typical of people”, another volunteer scoffed.
The kitten was cute, but so what?
The children I played football and drew pictures with; smiling, running around the camp doing what any other normal child would have done…
The adoring mothers, father and grandparents with love and relief in their eyes…
The people who poured their hearts out at their hopes and dreams at being in Europe…
All those who expressed gratitude at being on safe land once and for all…
All those who opened their arms drawing me in for a hug…
The volunteers from every corner of the world, coming with the greatest intentions, because they see human beings, the crux of human rights…
All absolutely goddamn next level adorable.
Love All the People, that’s what Hicks said. Those people I met, they represent Freedom. The innate very human drive to take control and choose Freedom for themselves, their families and sanctity of their souls.
What Would Bill Hicks Do, right now if he saw this world we live in today?
On a scale, how explosive would his stand up be, had he been around to hear Trump announce a ban on Muslims entering the USA? Would he be screaming at us that these camps across Europe, they resemble the concentration camps from our history?
Would he still believe that people are innately GOOD?
When I lived on Lesvos my faith in human beings restored. The idea of a Collective Consciousness became more valid. I began to love all of the people, even for the shades of grey people threw about, it did seem possible that we share something in our humanity.
Seven months back in the UK and the only sense felt of being part of something collective is reading Hick’s words on my commute to work — the rantings, satire, inner workings of a man who’s already passed his time here.
If you do one thing for yourself in 2017, read this book.
Whatever your politics, it applies to us all.
It’s poignantly timeless and absolutely presently real.