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Bill Hicks - Sane Man

Bill Hicks , David Johndrow , Kevin Booth    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's finally here Nov. 14 2005
By Marcus W. Sparks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is the show that really got me interested in Bill. I had seen him on Letterman a few times, and remembered him when I saw a brief notice of his death on the news. Shortly thereafter, I saw a copy of "Sane Man" at the local video store. It stood out on the shelf, because it was clearly homemade. It had a photocopied cover, and stark black-on-white lettering label.

Watching it was a revelation. My roomate and I had never seen such a powerful, yet silly performance. The picture was terrible, clearly taken from a 3/4" Umatic tape or worse, but the message was clear.

I tried to get the store to order me a copy, but they didn't know how. The tape had been sent to them by their corporate office. (The chain was based in Texas.) This was pre-internet, so I figured if they couldn't get it, no one could. So I rented it again and bootlegged it. I still have that tape.

A few years ago, Kevin Booth released an extended cut of "Sane Man", but only on VHS. The picture quality was also rumored to be improved. But I wanted to hold out for a DVD. And now it's finally here. And knowing Rykodisc, probably greatly improved. They've only let us down once before. (The "Love Laughter & Truth" CD was scraping the bottom of the Hicks kettle.)

But even if this is a VHS copied onto a DVD, it's worth it. Most people have simply never seen this performance. The "Bill Hicks Satirist..." DVD was great, but it didn't have the fire of this performance. In "One Night Stand" and "Relentless", he's confident, but he's trying to prove himself. In "Revelations", he's a little TOO cool, since he was a genuine star in London by this time. (Plus, there's a bit too much "british-centric" humor.")

"Sane Man" is a younger Bill in front of a home-town crowd. It's true this tape was intended as a "demo" for an HBO or Showtime special. But while his actual HBO special years later was relatively dialed down, this is the full-on, frightening Bill Hicks heard on parts of "Rant In E Minor" and "Flying Saucer Tour 1". And yet, his silly side is more on display here too. It's the best of both Bills.

And you know his "lone gunman" show closer? I've never seen it done better than on "Sane Man".

Hopefully, Ryko will include some extras...maybe "Ninja Bachelor Party" in it's entirity? (The original tape included a trailer for it. I've seen it since, and it's awful, but it would be fun to have as an extra.)
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solace For The Ignorance of Man Feb. 8 2006
By Sunshine Greeny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
What an insightful riot this guy was! Humanity does so desperately need more who will fearlessly come right out and say what so many are thinking yet are afraid to express. In this early routine from 1989, you'll find ample amounts of familiar Hicks views, ideas and gags - trying to get the same message across tends to make one repetitive - and he's much more lewd in his approach to rattle people compared to the more spiritual overtones of his subsequent material. But it's especially the latter half or so of this set that soars well above range as you realize the crowd had largely decided [although not all of them!] to strap on their existential crash helmets, let out a primal howl to the moon, and follow Hicks past the point of no return as they're "lectured by a pale demon."

Hicks repeatedly jabs the phobic pressure points of his audience with his scathing critque of the culturally fascist, "anti-intellectual" ethic that noticeably began permeating the country in the early 80s like a bad rash. It is nothing short of searing, damning, and high on fire. America had become a "Reagan Wet Dream" version of itself, indoctrinating most into a 24/7/365 shopping mall mindset within a perpetually soothing 72 degree environment: what more could humanity hope for?

"Sane Man" has plenty of extras, additional clips and footage, and is highly recommended for old or new fans alike. Worth pointing out too is that with Bill Hicks, much like dissident/anarchist Noam Chomsky [who Bill would liken his views with], part of the public's fundamental attraction to such "fringe" types doesn't have as much to do with an interest in the usual cult of celebrity persona worship as much as it does the important, relevant social issues which are addressed by only a daring few while strategically ignored within the mainstream which seeks to control the public mind, to continually reinforce a limited view of reality that supports the social and economic power structure by disguising and downplaying the grim, daily realities within the staus quo. The personal psychological impetus driving such social outlaws is obvious, if not irrelevant, for every life embodies contradictory elements: Bill's passion was to raise awareness and wake people up. We miss ya man, and thanks to those who continually work to help keep Bill's voice alive, passing the torch further still.

"The record of anarchist ideas, and even more, of the inspiring struggles of people who have sought to liberate themselves from oppression and domination, must be treasured and preserved, not as a means of freezing thought and conception in some new mold but as a basis for understanding of the social reality and committed work to change it. There is no reason to suppose that history is at an end, that the current structures of authority and domination are graven in stone. It would also be a great error to underestimate the power of social forces that will fight to maintain power and privledge." ~ Chomsky
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Hicks - The "Hamburg" Years Nov. 21 2005
By Marcus Shelton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Someone described Bill's albums to me in terms of Beatles output....."Dangerous" was a powerful start ("Please Please Me/With The Beatles"), "Relentless" was more polished, ("Hard Day's Night/Rubber Soul") then came the masterwork of "Arizona Bay" ("Revolver/Pepper"), and the extraordinary and disparate finish of Rant In E Minor ("White Album").

In these terms, "Sane Man" is "Live At The Star Club (Hamburg)" or "The Beatles At The Beeb". It the provocative prototype of what was to come, none the less important than what was to follow. The solid underwork of a magnificent career to come....

I don't think the comparison to the world most important band ever is overstreching, either. He was the rock and roll comedian, and he was that good!

"Sane Man" is unmissable for any Hicks devotee. The funniest man of my generation.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW...Just WOW! Nov. 16 2006
By Joel L. Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Please, just start out with this one, folks. This performance is so developed that it encompasses much of the Hicks legend. And it's from 1989. He grew from here, but since he was dead by 1994 he simply didn't have a chance to keep going. To make an analogy, this is Nirvana's 'Nevermind' and 'Revelations' (on the 'Social Critic' DVD) is 'In Utero.' You need to own both--20 bucks and you get six hours of one of the greatest comedians ever. Even if you hate what he says, spend 20 bucks to argue his ideas, but be honest. Regardless of your beliefs, you will gain some new perspectives on your world.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Closest Thing to Lenny Bruce We Will Ever See May 31 2008
By Elliot Malach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
No matter how many times I see these routines, I laugh so hard I can't breathe. It is Spiritualism from a comic genius' perspective.

Comedy is more than being an "amusement engineer" as Hicks calls himself in the DVD. He reveals our collective hypocrisy and acceptance of world situations. Bill Hicks expresses viewpoints in an outrageous, humorous and sometimes offensive manner that really make you think.

He may be dead, but he is definitely not gone.
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