So tonight, David Letterman is putting right a wrong done 15 years ago. In October 1993, comedian Bill Hicks taped a performance on Letterman's newly minted Late Show on CBS. Letterman's show was brand new, and the network a bit more conservative than his previous home at NBC.
Hicks did a performance in which he skewered television, making fun of celebrity "reality" tv, and the hypocrisy of the pro-life movement. Concerned about his position on his new network, Letterman and producer Rob Burnett cut the performance. Hicks was devastated. You see, the thing is, it would have been his last TV performance, because just 6 months earlier, he'd been diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Three months later, he would be dead.
Tonight, Bill's mother Mary Hicks was on the show, and they talked about Bill, and how hard getting cut from the show was, and then they played the clip. Afterward, Dave apologized for cutting it, saying that his cutting it said more about him than it did about Bill, and that he felt he was wrong to have done so. I thought it was a classy move by Dave, because, let's face it, a lot of these guys never admit when they're wrong.
For those who don't know who Bill Hicks is, he's the guy from whom Denis Leary stole his act. Remember when Leary came out in the early 90s, and he was all edgy? Hicks was doing it 5 years before. In fact, when Leary started getting big with No Cure For Cancer, and someone asked Bill what he thought about the similarities between Leary's current act and the stuff he'd been doing for years, he had this to say: "I have a scoop for you. I stole his act. I camouflaged it with punchlines, and to really throw people off, I did it before he did." When Hicks quit smoking, and interviewers asked why, he said "I just wanted to see if Denis would, too."
Of course, Hicks never had the chance to turn into the sellout that Leary would become (not that I think that it would have happened). I mean, come on, really Dennis, Operation Dumbo Drop? Two If By Sea? Really?
It's called integrity. Look it up.
In related news, Steve Martin is going to be on Letterman on Monday. Perhaps he'll be on to apologize for those abysmal Pink Panther movies. I mean, seriously, Steve, you're turning into Dan Aykroyd. Do you even read the scripts before you sign on anymore?
Not that I begrudge anyone making a decent living, and Leary has made a return to quality over the last few years, but it can be done, and these guys should have enough clout now to do their thing. Yep, I don't begrudge anyone making a decent living, but that doesn't mean we don't get to make fun of them.
I'm just sayin'.