Subversive Book Club Review: Agent of Evolution

Full Title: Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution
Author: Kevin Booth with Michael Bertin (Ghost Writer)
Year: 2005

I pride myself on the many subversive books I read and let me say, I tend to find the best of these bunch to be those of the autobiography, biography, memoir, etc. variety. It’s really neat to see how someone became the subversive, influential character they are/were. This book in particular is special for two reasons: 1) The subject is my hero and main influence, stand up comedian/social critic, Bill Hicks. 2) This work is written by his best friend and collaborator, Kevin Booth (Sacred Cow Productions) and contains various passages by close friends and several other vital figures in Hicks’ life/career. So, with those credentials, this read is easily one of the most personal and intimate experiences one can find from a book. We see how Hicks was raised in a Southern Baptist Prison and how he escaped through his window, out into the Comedy World via the Comedy Workshop in Houston, Texas. As he hits the stage life, he transforms from excessive teetotaler to excessive drinker with cocaine and various other substances serving as side dishes. After years of constant partying, Bill realizes his life and career needs a 180 turn and he snaps into sobriety. Instantly (it seems), he takes his comedy to new levels, the humor itself is the same, but with a sober mind he can perform more and execute his revolutionary message stronger than ever. Sadly, he never hits it big in his homeland, though his career did grow and he became quite popular in the UK. Even more depressing, in 1993, Hicks was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died shortly after. As readers we realize, yes it was a tragedy that he died soooo young, but what would have been more tragic was if he did nothing with his life and kept his thoughts to himself and went about his day. Instead, Hicks was outspoken and stopped at nothing to change as many minds as he could; forcing people to think for themselves, as stated in the Outlaw Comic documentary. Bill may not have waken everyone up, but for those who did hear his call, he changed everything. It wasn’t just “is what the govermnent doing bad?” It was, “the government is a bunch of lying, stealing, murderous cocksuckers- here’s why- now show me how I’m wrong.” To which a neanderthal redneck would respond, “You’re UNAMERICAN!” End of argument. Overall, I can’t say anything negative here, except maybe the fact that many of the guest writers, friends and such, drag on a little bit and repeat what others said, but other than that, this is a fantastic and informative read. We see an up close look at one of the greatest minds in all of art and entertainment through the eyes of his loved ones. What more can you ask for?

P.S. the tales of Acid/Mushrooms tripping are mind blowing and fascinating, to say the very least.