Burying the hatchet...

Letterman to air axed Hicks routine

The Bill Hicks routine controversially dropped from the David Letterman show will finally be aired on the programme – 15 years after the comic's death.

The outspoken comedian’s mother Mary will be making an appearance on tomorrow night’s show on America’s CBS network to introduce the footage – and bury the hatchet with the chat show host.

Hicks went to his grave outraged at what he saw as Letterman’s betrayal in dropping the hard-hitting routine in October 1993.

In what would have been his 12th appearance on the show, Hicks tackled Christianity, politics and the anti-abortion movement, including the line: ‘If you’re so pro-life, do me a favour: don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.’

At the end of the show Letterman acknowledged the controversial nature of the routine, saying: saying, ‘Bill, enjoy answering your mail for the next few weeks.’

Producers later told Hicks that the segment would be dropped from that night’s broadcast, saying that the network’s broadcasting standards watchdogs felt it was unsuitable for their viewers. However, it later transpired it had been the Letterman producers – not CBS – who insisted on the cut. And among the adverts aired during the show following the one in which Hicks had been due to appear was one for a pro-life moment.

Hicks expressed his feelings of betrayal in a handwritten, 39-page letter to John Lahr of The New York, in which he added that he his requests for a tape of his performance had been ignored.

Less than five months later, Hicks was dead – at the age of 32 – from pancreatic cancer.

His mother returned to David Letterman’s show on Monday to tape an interview to mark the 15th anniversary of her son’s death, in a segment that set to include that censored performance. The original master recordings were destroyed, but only after one copy was sent to Mary Hicks, but it has never been seen before now.

Here’s a clip of him at his last ever stand-up gig, performing the same material as he did on the Letterman show:

And here is Hicks talking at length about the incident:

Published: 29 Jan 2009

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