‘Rock is dead and so is comedy,’ was Hicks’ response to being labelled a rock-and-roll comedian. At a time when rock music is safe to listen to in front of your parents and comedy’s only mainstream representation comes from American sitcoms, Hicks’ cynical brand of hard-edged truth-telling is sorely missed. During his 32 years on this planet – at least half of which were spent on stage – before he died of cancer in 1994, Hicks managed to capture the hearts and minds of the disenchanted masses.
Open Love All the People at random and you’ll find a funny one-liner, a testing concept or a literary gem. That said, it’s not a book for novices. Newcomers to Hicks’ comedy may find the transcribed routines repetitive and bewildering in places: it’s hard to grasp his style fully without knowing what he sounded or looked like. However, some of his poems and prose are universally appealing, especially his passionate ‘Thoughts on Love and Smoking’, which lends a sense of nostalgia – even to those too young to have any of their own.Moike Weston