Chomsky with dick jokes - MOVIE
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Aussie actor Russell Crowe mentioned that, in the wake of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood-with-a-twist Nottingham being delayed by at least seven months, he was using the sudden spare time not only to take a well-deserved rest, but also to develop a number of projects...
That's where the surprise come in: "I have another project based on the life of comedian Bill Hicks," Crowe said, "which is going from treatment to draft stage with Kiwi writer Mark Staufer." What's more, Crowe indicated that he is considering playing the much-missed Texan comic Hicks, who died from pancreatic cancer in 1994, aged just 32 and on the cusp of widespread fame.
How Hicks came on to Crowe's radar is anybody's guess - he may just have exquisite taste in comedians - but I imagine it may be connected to the recent Australian tour of Richard Hurst and Chas Early's hugely-acclaimed stage play, Bill Hicks: Slight Return, in which Early plays Hicks - a quite uncanny impersonation, by all accounts - utilising the neat conceit of a brief return from the afterlife to impart fresh observations.
I adore Bill Hicks's comedy and, while anything that brings his brilliance to a wider audience is surely a good thing, I do think that any biopic about his short life poses a few challenges. Hicks's life is a dictionary definition of bittersweet: essentially, a steadfast and very frustrating labour in obscurity before making some headway - outside of his native US - only for the glory to be curtailed by death.
Unlike Lenny Bruce, Hicks was never thrust in the national spotlight via a groundbreaking obscenity trial - being dumped from Late Night with David Letterman for "hot-pointed" material (as Hicks was in late 1993) is not exactly in the same league.
There's also an issue of timing: it's a weirdly compelling element of Hicks's comedy that History has conspired to keep his signature anti-Republican political routines somewhat fresh, thanks to Bush II and Gulf War II. With the former's reign ending imminently, a key part of Hicks oeuvre will finally begin to date severely.
Finally: there's the issue of how best to highlight Hicks's huge influence - all of which has been posthumous. There's something almost clichéd now about the misanthropic libertarian persona that Hicks fostered so well and has been systematically ripped off by too many comedians, making it somewhat more difficult to communicate just how special Bill was.
As for Crowe playing the self-styled "Chomsky with dick jokes": well, there's no doubt that the man has the acting chops and he has certainly displayed a chameleonic quality in his prior roles (compare his signature turn as the toned, muscular Maximus in Gladiator to the portly, middle-aged whistleblower Jeffrey Weigand in The Insider, for a prime example), but, in this instance, I fear his age - 44 years old - may not make him a viable option.
Personally, I hope Staufer's script will make judicious use of what is considered the key biography of Hicks, Agent of Evolution, penned by Hicks's lifelong friend (and producer of his comedy albums) Kevin Booth with author Michael Bertin.
Unlike Cynthia True's adequate American Scream, the Booth/Bertin tome offers a far more incisive and honest portrayal of Hicks, bolstered not only by Booth's unrivalled perspective of the man's life - personally and professionally - but also candidly contrasting the visionary brilliance of Hicks comedy with the darker, self-destructive and downright-unlikeable elements of Bill's character.
It makes a vital point about Hicks that many have ignored in the years since his death: that he wasn't some kind of "comedy messiah", he was just a really funny guy, warts and all..
"I'm so sick of arming the world, then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries, then we go and blow the shit out of them. We're like the bullies of the world, y'know. We're like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing the pistol at the sheepherder's feet.
"Pick it up."
"I don't wanna pick it up, Mister, you'll shoot me."
"Pick up the gun."
"Mister, I don't want no trouble. I just came downtown here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don't even know what gingham is, but she goes through about ten rolls a week of that stuff. I ain't looking for no trouble, Mister."
"Pick up the gun."
(He picks it up. Three shots ring out.)
"You all saw him - he had a gun."
If you don't believe drugs have done good things for us, then go home and burn all your records, all your tapes, and all your CDs because every one of those artists who have made brilliant music and enhanced your lives? RrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrEAL fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few songs.
Supreme Court says pornography is anything without artistic merit that causes sexual thoughts, that's their definition, essentially. No artistic merit, causes sexual thoughts. Hmm... Sounds like...every commercial on television, doesn't it? You know, when I see those two twins on that Doublemint commercial? I'm not thinking of gum. I am thinking of chewing, so maybe that's the connection they're trying to make
Why is marijuana against the law? It grows naturally upon our planet. Doesn't the idea of making nature against the law seem to you a bit... unnatural? You know what I mean? It's nature. How do you make nature against the fucking law?
I've learned a lot about women. I think I've learned exactly how the fall of man occured in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, and Adam said one day, "Wow, Eve, here we are, at one with nature, at one with God, we'll never age, we'll never die, and all our dreams come true the instant that we have them." And Eve said, "Yeah... it's just not enough is it?"
I'm gonna share with you a vision that I had, cause I love you. And you feel it. You know all that money we spend on nuclear weapons and defense each year, trillions of dollars, correct? Instead -- just play with this -- if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world -- and it would pay for it many times over, not one human being excluded -- we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever in peace. Thank you very much. You've been great, I hope you enjoyed it