Thursday, January 29, 2009

Letterman to air "lost" Bill Hicks segment

This is pretty amazing: the holy grail of comedy will apparently be unearthed on this Friday's Late Show with David Letterman.

The famous censoring of the late Bill Hicks' appearance on the Oct. 1, 1993 Letterman show marked the only time that that an entire stand-up performance was cut after a taping of the show.

At the time, CBS and Late Show producers denied responsibility. But, apparently, Letterman himself takes responsibility in tomorrow's show, apologizes to Hicks' mother, Mary Hicks, who appears on the show, and shows Hicks' original performance. Wow.

This is famous because it was only seen once before (on the U.S. cable channel "Trio"), and Hicks spoke about it a lot before he died: in a handwritten, 39-page letter to John Lahr in the New Yorker, who wrote an article about it, and in the above "public broadcast" interview he taped before his death

Hicks is a groundbreaking comic, who never got much recognition until after he died. His work is now widely available on CD, and it's pretty great stuff; if you buy Flying Saucer Tour, it's impossible to listen to his take on the original Gulf War without thinking that maybe Bill is actually talking about George W. Bush and the War on Terror.

The CD is also very dirty and - amazingly - features a lot of material where Hicks isn't doing very well with the audience; in fact, he's outright bombing much of the time, which is why he "prays for a nuclear holocaust" from the stage time and again.

Tune in to Friday's Letterman: it should be something special.

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