Bill Hicks - Slight Return with Chas Early review
Tim Clark15 February 2008
Bill Hicks is back from the dead. And, while unhooking his angel wings from his white suit, he has some news for the living. Goat boy did not get to heaven, non-smoking London is to be ridiculed and provocative dick jokes are still the norm.
A few things have changed over the years though.
Starbucks has replaced McDonald’s as the antichrist and a new cast of Michael Moore, Columbine High and Weapons of Mass Destruction have fired Hick’s satirical cynicism enough for him to once again shoot his creamy essence over the world’s social inadequacies.
Bill Hicks: Slight Return is an interesting take on Bill Hick’s comedy commentary. A show built on an impersonation of the much-missed cult comic hero, Chas Early unashamedly re-works the masterfully argumentative streak with which Hicks approached stand-up.
Environmentalism, pro-lifers, political apathy and religion are all touched upon and after a few dirty jokes the familiar mannerisms of the late great comedian are intimately re-animated before a real rant takes shape. “Ladies and gentleman, if you don’t eat your social comment, you won’t get dick jokes for dessert,” Early quips before launching into a psychological tirade: “Watch big brother, join the army, vote Republican, don’t take drugs, the NRA IS American culture!”
The forthcoming US election was inescapable as well as the all-too-easy President Bush dig: “How drunk does America have to be to elect that vacant useless grouping of cells – twice!” The dissection of Barack Obama’s meaningless election manifesto of ‘promise, hope over fear, freedom, change, more hope, and the freedom to have a future promise-of-hope-to-change-the-future’ was also duly ridiculed. “You’re all so scared of bovine middle America to vote and stick by it.”
Chas Early is not Bill Hicks. He lacks a bitter anger which fired so many of Bill’s rants, and the desire to change the world is not as eagerly or passionately portrayed, but it is a tough act to follow, let alone impersonate after 14 years.
Bringing a comedian back from the dead is probably enough to make the late Hicks turn in his grave.
As the show progresses you become eerily aware of the void that Hick's has left in the live comedy circuit - let alone in political commentary - and despite Early's best efforts, Slight Return falls short of the passion and conviction that there is a lot wrong with the world, portrayed as Hicks did acerbic perfection.
But Early does at least give a reminder, a hint of the kind of fucked up world we live in. No doubt the late comedian would pour scorn on Early’s performance and society’s sick fascination with him a decade after his death, but not without a wry smile.
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