"It’s what I can’t stand, all day long we see those commercials: 'Here’s your brain; Here’s your brain on drugs.' 'Just say no.' 'Why do you think they call it dope?’And then the next commercial is: ‘This Bud’s for you!’ ..."
In case you’ve never heard that voice before, that was Bill Hicks.
A graduate of Stratford High School, Hicks started performing stand-up comedy at the age of 16. He then went on to have a successful comedy career, touring the world and having several performances on late night television talk shows. However, Hicks’ career was cut short in 1994 when he died of pancreatic cancer.
"When I first heard him, it was like being around an old friend that you’ve known for a really long time and he was saying all this stuff that I really connected with."
That was Will Guess. He and other organizers at Free Press Houston are trying to raise funds to build a statue to honor the late comedian. Omar Afra, the publisher of Free Press, says the statue is less about stirring up nostalgia and more about educating a new generation of Hicks admirers.
"It wouldn’t necessarily have to be tied into something in his personal history, but would rather get young people and kids and adolescents say, 'Well who’s this Bill Hicks guy?' and they’d turn themselves onto recordings of his stuff."
Afra says that the project has raised half of the $70,000 goal and that the statue will be sculpted by David Adickes.
Hicks was known for demanding his audiences to question authority and to base their decisions on facts, rather than scare tactics. Iain Morrisson, a philosophy professor at the University of Houston, says this approach to comedy is what drew him to Hicks as a teenager.
"He has a philosophical perspective, so he tends to take a broader view of things, not to be constrained by his own selfish interests… He’s cares whether or not a joke he’s making is based in some kind of study or truth or some kind of reality."
The proposed location for the statue is at Shepherd and San Felipe, near the now defunct Comedy Workshop, where Hicks performed his first stand-up routine.
For more information on the project, visit the Free Press Houston site.