In 2004 British M.P. Stephen Pound called Bill Hicks, an American stand-up comic who died of cancer at the age of 32 in 1994, “one of the few people [worthy] of inclusion with Lenny Bruce in any list of unflinching and painfully honest political philosophers.” Judging by American: The Bill Hicks Story, a 2010 documentary available on DVD, Hicks had at least this much in common with Bruce: His “truth telling” was not all that funny, sacrificing humor for the sake of leftish social commentary.
To his credit, Hicks’ anti-authoritarian instincts led him to rail against not only consumerism and organized religion but also drug prohibition, the bloated defense budget, the first Iraq war, and the deadly 1993 confrontation between federal agents and Branch Davidians outside Waco, Texas. But Hicks, who began his career as a remarkably poised teenager at a Houston comedy club, may have been funnier before he became the darling of left-leaning Brits eager to hear an angry American criticize the U.S. —Jacob Sullum
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