This Friday on Letterman: Bill Hicks?!

The Late Show with David Letterman will feature a previously unaired clip of the late Bill Hicks, the subversive comedian and pot advocate, on Friday, January 30.

Bill Hicks was only 32 years old when he died of cancer in 1994. If you’ve never heard of him, or heard of him but didn’t get a chance to see any of his work, tune into The Late Show with David Letterman this Friday night.

One of Letterman’s guests will be Hicks’ mom (the show was taped earlier this week). She’ll be there to mark the 15th anniversary of Hicks’ death. Now, this may seem like an odd thing for a talk show to do, have the mom of a deceased comic on, but there’s special meaning behind this appearance. Just five months before his death, Hicks appeared on The Late Show and did a scathing stand-up routine (the kind he usually did) which attacked everything from religion to politics. Unfortunately, it was too hot for the show and the performance was never shown, and this really hurt Hicks. On Friday, Letterman is finally going to show the performance.

Hicks wasn’t for everyone, but you have to admire how much he threw himself into his role as a stand-up comic. A lot of people say that Denis Leary borrowed a lot of his act from Hicks, and I don’t know if that’s true or fair, but I think it is fair to say that a lot of comics were heavily influenced by him. Russell Crowe might play Hicks in a movie.

– Article from TV Squad

Closure, after all these years, for Bill Hicks

by Aaron Barnhart

Here is how long it’s been since David Letterman and his then-producer, Robert Morton, decided to cut Bill Hicks’ controversial monologue out of a “Late Show” broadcast — in one of the very first editions of Late Show News that I wrote, 15 years ago, I was already referring to the Hicks incident as old news.

Since then it’s gone on to become one of the most fabled TV moments of all time, probably because it never aired. Until now. Actually, it’s possible it aired in 2003. Trio — remember Trio?, the network Lauren Zalaznick ran before she became Queen of All Cable? — did a documentary on Hicks called “Outlaw Comic,” of which the Letterman excision was the central moment. (It was subtitled, “The Censoring of Bill Hicks,” which Virginia Heffernan, citing Stanley Fish, high-handedly asserted was not censoring according to the First Amendment … although I would point out that according to the original Latin, it actually is.)

Anyway, I searched through reviews, including my own, of the Hicks docu and couldn’t find confirmation that the excised Letterman routine actually aired. But it doesn’t matter, since only about five million homes, at most, ever saw the Trio channel. For all practical purposes, what Dave will be showing America on Friday night is something America has never seen: the routine that he, Dave Letterman, kept off his show 15-1/2 years ago. Joining him will be Mary Hicks, the late comedian’s mom. Details at TVS.

Several in-depth pieces have been written about the incident over the years; here’s one that includes a portion of the original New Yorker piece that effectively blew the whistle on Dave. And here’s an interview Hicks gave about the incident to a Texas cable access show:

The explanation given over the years was that Letterman was new at CBS, was riding high in the ratings, and didn’t want any trouble, so in an impulse act fed by his own anxieties, he agreed to cut the Hicks routine. I assume that explanation will be repeated on Friday … but don’t be surprised if Morty takes the hit.

– Article from The Kansas City Star

Bill Hicks on marijuana: