Synopsis by Mark Deming
Bill Hicks was a comedian, though that term hardly describes the full range and impact of his work. Hicks used comedy a vehicle to express both rage and hope, to satirize what he saw as faulty in contemporary society and to promote his singular notion of a better world. Growing up in Houston, TX, Hicks began performing at the age of 15, and after earning a large and loyal following in Texas, he moved to L.A. and began working the comedy circuit nationwide. As Hicks maintained a punishing touring schedule (often performing 250 to 300 nights a year), he kept honing and refining his act, combining acidic political and social commentary with tales of his sexual obsessions, surreal visions of the world around him, and experiences with drugs. In 1990, Hicks performed in the United Kingdom for the first time, and there he became a star, though he failed to attract the same sort of audience in the United States. A few years later, Hicks seemed on the verge of a commercial breakthrough in America when he learned he had a rare and virulent form of cancer; he died on February 24, 1994, at the age of 32. Filmmaker Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas chronicle the life, art, and philosophy of a singular performer with the documentary American: The Bill Hicks Story. Featuring interviews with Hicks' closest friends and family members, the film uses digital animation to bring his standup routines to life and create a visual complement to his comedic vision. American: The Bill Hicks Story received its world premiere at the 2009 BFI London Film Festival.
comedian, career-retrospective, concert-footage, critic, interview, life-story, satire, stand-up-comedy