Photo By: Peter Greyy
20 years ago today comedian Bill Hicks passed away. My favorite of all time, hands down - no questions asked. Incredible loss to not only comedy but society. All those jokes you've heard about smoking, positive drug arguments, backlash on the government, standing up for your rights etc - Bill did them first. His honesty mixed with his like-ability venom made him stand out from his peers for generations.
Do yourself a favor, and when you get home tonight from work click on the video below and learn what made him so different and important in the comedy world.
"The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: 'Is this real, or is this just a ride?' And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, 'Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.' And we kill those people."
- Bill Hicks -
I had an absolute blast on the Road Stories Podcast today with the host Murray Valeriano (Comedy Central, NBC, FuelTV) and special guest Leo Flowers (Starz Staan' Dup, MTV).
Leo and I share what it was like losing our father's while touring, we talk about the mindset and reactions that go into fighting all those emotions and still having to perform every night. But don't worry it's not all about grief and sorrow, we also discuss our favorite places to pig out, and I even share the stories of getting bear hugged/dry humped on stage in Minnesota and being threatened by a heckler with a knife. Enjoy the show haha!
Sidenote : This podcast has the best intro music ever.
Get a FREE CD for your Email!
Ohio, you were welcoming and disregarding, eye opening, life changing, terrifying, and downright cold.
As many of you already know, my step father, Wayne, had a heart attack the night after Christmas. Wayne is the inspiration behind a significant chunk of my material. The stories of his infamous cough and knee-buckling handshake have brought many of you to see me after shows. Sharing similar stories about your parents and grandparents, Wayne really connected with fans. His stories brought me closer to many of you. I've joked of him being a "robo-hobo" around the house, but the idea that he could be taken from me so suddenly really never crossed my mind...
Following the heart attack, he was rushed to Marion General Hospital where he suffered a stroke the next morning. Several hours later, he was life lined to a larger hospital in Columbus where they removed another clot, and we thought the worst part might be over. He was unable to move anything on the left side of his body, but his mind was sharp, and he'd communicate with a head shake or a hand squeeze.
I was doing shows in Las Vegas when I got the initial news.
It felt like a scene out of movie. I was on the phone listening to this detrimental news while overlooking the Vegas strip from my 38th floor penthouse suite window. I felt like a fraud. I felt guilty -- here was a man who invested a lifetime of work to provide for his family, and now he was laying in a hospital bed hooked up to machines. Meanwhile I was draining the water from my spa tub. I mean, Wayne still had a job at the age of 72. Seventy-two years of work. And this was his reward?
Not only did I want to fly home right away, I wanted to switch places with him. I wanted to go back in time and take advantage of every moment I had with him without my typical distractions. I wished I'd found more opportunities to spoil him and bring him on the road with me. I was faced with years of squandered chances and regrets, and it was crushing me.
We were told by numerous medical professionals that his post-stroke condition was normal, and they were confident he'd improve. We kept hearing that it would be a long road to recovery, but he's showing good signs, and we should "remain positive."
So I stayed in Vegas.
I was due in Louisville, Kentucky the day after I finished shows on the strip. I flew in with the plan drive my rental car to see the family each night after shows. Unfortunately, the weather had different, polar-vortex, plans. Because of the tundra and dangerous road conditions, I only made it up once. I drove through the night to be able to spend the next day with Wayne.
Nothing prepares you to see someone you love in that condition. Nothing.
Every breath was a struggle, and the rest of his energy focused on trying to flutter his eyes open for brief glimpses. Each flutter revealed a struggle to focus. His eyes would tumble around till they found the ceiling tiles, struggling to stay open. He couldn't close his mouth--a cruel irony. His mouth sat there awaiting words that no amount of force or coaxing would make come.I grabbed his hand, and mom let him know I was there. He tried to speak to me several times but only groans of words came out of his body.
A surreal feeling creeped into my bones as flashbacks of him in better health and better times played in my mind. When Wayne came into my family's lives, he fit instantly. We developed a playful relationship of pranks and joking around. His favorite pranks required an audience. Whenever my friends visited the house, Wayne would appear in the room with the swagger of a wild west gunslinger, shoot out his hand and look me dead in the eye.
"Kiss my shoes, boy," he'd say with arm outstretched for a handshake.
And me, in my 15-year-old cockiness, thought that I could handle it, every time. And every time Wayne would find the pressure point in my hand and watch my knees buckle as I went to the ground to a roar of laughter and cheers from my friends.
After his attempts to speak to me failed, my mom leaned over his hospital bed and whispered, "Make him kiss your shoes, Wayne."
I watched a corner of his mouth start to curl as he squeezed as hard as he could. His hands were frail but rough--tarnished is a better way to put it. I could feel every manual labor job he ever had in the wrinkles and creases in those old mitts.
Mom narrated our last joke, "Oh you got him Wayne! He's going down--he's down! You still got it, babe!"
Wayne died while I was flying back to Los Angeles two days later.
I found out he passed away at the beginning of what became a nine-hour layover at the Denver airport...more thanks to the Polar Vortex. There was nowhere to hide, nowhere to be alone with my emotions. I just had to act like everything was fine and that it was just another travel day.
This is not the first time I've lost a father figure, but if I'm honest, it is the first time I lost a dad.
Wayne took up a role in my life that I don't believe my biological father could ever have filled even if he'd lived past my 11th birthday. Facing the death of Wayne revived memories of losing my biological father and ignited a lot of reflection and a deeper curiosity about both men, their lives, personalities and how they molded me. During the two weeks I was home for the funeral, I learned more and found a deeper understanding of these two strikingly contrasting men - my father, and my dad. Two completely different people, with completely different outlooks, habits and ways of life -- but I needed both of them, the good and the bad parts of both to shape me into who I am and what I will become.
I found a quote that I felt was very fitting and that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
It's a simple enough phrase, but powerful and calming. Even though Wayne isn't physically here anymore, his memory, love and life lessons will always have a place in my heart.
It was good to be home, I just wish it was under better circumstances. I know it's selfish because there are so many people hurting much worse than I am, but I just wasn't ready to lose a parent...I don't believe you ever are.
During the layover that wouldn't end followed by the reality of death, the support of my friends and fans has been nothing short of overwhelming. I am so grateful to every single one of you. I was inundated by emails, messages, posts, tweets, comments, texts and ridiculous generosity, and if I haven't properly thanked you yet, please know that every single outreach touched me deeply.
another town another show
another person i dont know
when the lights go up and the music kicks on
after the chairs are put up and everyone is gone
whats left is empty handshakes and memories
seems like ive been chasing this feeling for centuries
when im on stage im so alive
the lights are off and im full of drive
all eyes on me no pressure dont fuck up
these voices in my mind they wont shut up
wheels spinning, mouth moving
but am i really the one winning or losing?
another town another show
pack your bags boy its time to go
sitting in empty beds and dreaming
wondering if this is really it and whats the meaning
is this really what im here for?
quick laughs and short term memories
none of these mother fuckers will ever remember me
when im here and im dancing im golden
but when i leave you have another full house and im fold’in
another town another show
had a wonderful time with you all but now its time to go
on to another town on to another show
shaking hands with more people i dont know