Review ·

"Listen: The next revolution is gonna be a revolution of ideas, a bloodless revolution. And if I can take part in it by transforming my own consciousness, then someone else's, I'm happy to do it." ~Bill Hicks

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Observer. Poet. Ranter. Critic. Genius. Tragedy. Indeed, Bill Hicks was all of these. However, without fear of over- or understatement, he may have preferred this descriptor: human. He was human in the most humble sense -- as when he succumbed to cancer in 1994 at age thirty-two -- and in the most glorious sense -- as when he commanded stages for nearly nineteen of those years. Though he hardly projected the image -- clad in black, he appeared an impenetrable void filled only by a steely demeanor and fierce critiques -- he dedicated his life to embracing that which distinguishes Man: a romantic optimism for what could be.

 

Originally released in 1989, Sane Man is Hicks standing at the cusp in every sense. Frustrated with network television and the limitations of censorship (he had appeared on David Letterman's show a number of times since 1984), he made the film in an effort to break onto HBO. Meant as a ready-made special/demo of the comedian in the raw, Sane Man cuts to his essence in roughly an hour. Captured strategically in Austin, Texas -- Hicks bakes and eats the cake as he sits comfortably in the liberal seat of the South -- he can jump immediately into Tales from the South and the air of "anti-intellectualism" in the wake of the Reagan years.

 

Many familiar ideas, from non-smokers' righteousness to the hypocrisy of the War on Drugs to pop music's assault on rock 'n' roll, fill the performance, but Sane Man is a rare visual glimpse of a Hicks-in-progress  (his scant videography(http://www.billhicks.com/videos.html) consists mostly of HBO/British television specials from the later part of his life). His material, let alone a whole set's worth, is in development, making Sane Man a dizzying promise of what's to come. The original film is augmented here with an extended version of the aforementioned performance, in addition to a host of outtakes and performances from the late '80s (of varying recording quality), making the Sane Man DVD unquestionably essential.

 

 

Bill Hicks Web site: http://www.billhicks.com/

Rykodisc Web site: http://www.rykodisc.com/

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