Review: American: The Bill Hicks Story


The Los Angeles debut of American: The Bill Hicks Story was at the LA Downtown Film Festival last night. The documentary is a love story between a comedian and his family. Hicks’ mother (who was at the screening) says in the film, “I had three children, a boy, a girl and…a baby.”

Hicks died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 32 in 1994. He clocked in nearly 20 years of stand up comedy in his short life, starting the craft at the age of 13. He was never as popular or appreciated in this country as he was in the UK. He’s been referred to as a dark poet – the outlaw comic. Stand ups of that era will tell you that the year Hicks died, prop comic Carrot Top won “Comedian of the Year.”

The film is the best of all the documentaries about the life of Bill Hicks. The filmmakers Paul Thomas and Matt Harlock (both – you guessed it – British) had hundreds of hours of interviews and hundreds of photographs of the comedian. What resulted is a feature documentary, four years in the making, that is an animation of Hicks’ career and family life. Artistically it’s very interesting to watch. It’s not a normal documentary about a comedian who was also not normal. Which in a way is the most fitting part of the homage.

The filmmakers said the film should be released in the US sometime next year. Even people who did not know him or are not fans can marvel that his jokes have a 20 year plus shelf life.