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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Bill Hicks - Slight Return
He is risen! Come, witness! Lo, the greatest stand-up comedian ever is returned amongst us, to appear in an all-new play for our salvation. And George Bush shall tremble before him and say, why, Lord? Gimme a break! And verily shall he smite the hypocrites, liars and non-smokers. And unto us shall he tell dick jokes. Amen.
Resurrecting the revered Bill Hicks ten years after his death is either a very shrewd move, or a very foolish one. The presence of such an iconic name in the title is sure to shift tickets for curiosity value alone, but meddling with his sainted memory is a risky business.
Chaz Early is the man who's taken the plunge, the first performer to admit to impersonating Hicks, even though countless stand-ups have been accused of it. So, after a brief introduction as himself, he emerges from a wall of smoke in character: tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be Bill Hicks
First impressions bode well: he looks enough like him to be believable, and has the captured the voice perfectly. It's the spirit that proves a lot more difficult to nail down.
Though listed as a theatre show, Early has very little theatrical excuse for raising the dead. Many previous shows have used long-gone comedy heroes as dramatic devices, but this is simply an hour-long impersonation of what Early thinks Hicks would be like today.
The problem is, he's mimicing the Hicks of a decade ago or more ago, in that brief period in which he capitalised on his long-overdue acclaim at Edinburgh appearances before cancer claimed his life. And if nothing else, Hicks was of the moment. Although his work still sounds contemporary, his fans would surely like to think he would have evolved in ten years, had he stuck around.
But what he would be like to day is impossible to call. So instead, we get the rhythms and feel of the old recordings, but applied to modern topics Internet porn, Coldplay, Abu Ghraib jail and so on. And the George Bush material Hicks was performing during the last Gulf War hardly needs that much updating.
The problem is, the script isn't good enough, certainly too weak to be a stand-up routine in its own right. There are a few good gags, and it's all consistent with Hicks' sensibilities, but just doesn't quite come off. One thing Hicks would never do is work to silence, yet that's what happens here, as the audience gives hushed reverence to an admittedly strong performance, rather than laugh at the jokes.
It promises "a unique insight into the life and opinions of a comedy legend" - but there's nothing here you couldn't pick up from a CD. Hicks was hardly shy about sharing his opinions.
There is something of a message about comfortable, middle-class liberals enjoying Hicks' work to delude themselves they're not part of the very system he was railing against, but it doesn't amount to all that much.
And at one point, Early's Hicks rails against his family for cashing in on the comic's name by releasing a seemingly relentless tide of recordings and books which seems more than a bit rich.
Slight Return is supposedly a tribute to a stand-up legend, but the best tribute you could pay him is to watch any one of several passionate comics still working at thought-provoking stuff today, rather than a watered-down copycat of a brilliant man.
AThis was GOOD. I dont know why people are saying bad things about it, the concept is a good one and the material does feel very Bill Hicks. If it was "Chas Early: Slight Return" and he did similar material, he'd have been accused of stealing Hicks' stuff. The stuff shown felt like it was what Bill would say, and how he would say it. I left happy.
nyone expecting to see Bill Hicks at this show is obviously thick and hasn't been on planet earth for a few decades. Funny, thought provoking, and very moving. An excellent tribute to the great man.
Hated it. Gave it a go, and then hated it more. No no no. Was very disappointed. I would say about a third of the audience really did like it, but they were the ones there for the dick jokes
While there is some artistic merit in impersonations I feel there is no artistic merit to impersonating Bill Hicks! What does this Chas fella think he is doing? The only course he can take is to be himself. Be his own comedian.
The new material is right on the money. The indignation about career longevity of stand-ups, and self-congratulation of his audience give depth. Most observers simply wont know what they are seeing. A truly superb treatment of an almost impossible remit. Feel the homage.
I found it very enjoyable, good to see that Bill is still with us
Very impressive indeed.
Piece of sh*t, all you need to know. K? K.
You cannot replicate a comedic genius. You will have die hard Hicks fans waiting to see Hicks, not a poor representation of the man.
Very very very thin ice my fiends. One can only hope that a person who thinks they can voice Hick's unvoiced opinions is a genius. Trouble is, a genius by nature would know not to undertake such a venture...Good luck!
The London preview showed that Early is a safe pair of hands when it comes to looking after the brilliance of Bill Hicks. Definitely worth seeing.
God damn, this better be good. If they ruin Hicks I'll ruin their faces.