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.)