Rant In E Minor
by Bill Hicks
may be the most powerful comedy album ever recorded. Released posthumously, this was recorded on Hicks' final tour, when he knew he had terminal cancer
but the audiences didn't, and is the sound of a man who no longer has to care any more.
A large amount of the material actually deals with Hicks' impending demise - a routine about talking to TV producers ('"Will it have titty?" "Sure" BOOM! A cheque falls in my lap. "What these titties gonna do?" "Jiggle?" BOOM! Another cheque falls in my lap. "Where you been all our lives, boy? Jiggling titties, who woulda thunk it?!"') is introduced by Hicks telling the audience it's going to be his last tour, and in one of the darkest - in retrospect - portions of the recording, Hicks mentions in the setup to a one-liner that he'd started smoking again:
(Audience applauds and whoops)
I don't know how I failed with a support group like you. YAY! Bill's gonna lose a lung! WHOO! Bill's gonna get cancer!
To hear a man who knew he was dying of cancer (he died within months of the recordings on this album) making jokes like this - and being funny - is a very very strong, powerful, odd feeling.
Not all (or even most) of the album is in this vein of course - but it's intense. His rants on abortion, Rush Limbaugh (a rant which involves Limbaugh eating Barbara Bush's excrement while Ronald Reagan and George Bush urinate on him), David Koresh ("They said 'he's a frustrated rock musician with messianic tendencies and a huge collection of guns.' That sounds like everyone I know in Austin. I hate to tell you this but this may not be an isolated incident" - Hicks sometimes described himself as Koresh "but without the guns or pussy"), and advertising ("If you're in marketing, kill yourself. No joke, kill yourself. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself. Just planting seeds") all have an intensity which his earlier work, while funny, had never quite reached.
Some of this material is also shown in Hicks' earlier Relentless video (not the same material as the Relentless album), and on Denis Leary's No Cure For Cancer album (after the release of that album Hicks, annoyed at Leary's outright theft of his material, used to check himself into hotels as Otis Blackwell, the name of the writer of many of Elvis Presley's biggest hits, who was unknown to the general public), but this is the real thing.
A warning - if you don't share Hicks' own left-libertarian views, you will be offended. But even so you should listen to this - it's very rare that something this powerful gets released any more, and a voice like Hicks' is needed even more now than when he was alive.