Love All the People

bill.jpgHicks, Bill. Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines. London: Constable Books, 2004. Bill Hicks left this world too soon, and this collection of writings reminds you of just what we lost. With a critical eye toward the status quo, Hicks challenged authority even as he castigated those living under it. With a cutting wit, he'd slice through the mainstream American bullshit that is shoveled at us by ad-men and politicians 24/7 and remind us that the only thing that matters is taking care of one another. He was as gentle as he was caustic as he was funny.

The bulk of this collection is made up of transcripts of Hicks' stand-up comic routines from the early and mid-Nineties; and while some of the material is significantly dated, much of it holds up just fine, as the state of the world has hardly improved in the last fifteen years. Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap between routines, so some of the jokes lose their punch on the fourth or fifth reading. But the routines are supplemented with letters, scripts, interviews, and poetry. The letters from Hicks to his enemies are full of venom but also sincere effort at finding common ground. His proposed tv scripts would have been an interesting venture had Hicks lived. The interviews are funny, but fairly straightforward. The less said of his poetry, the better.

If there is a weak point to this collection it's that the written word is no match for the man live in concert---the printed page just can't convey his passion. And of course, there's no substitute for the man, live.