Below is probably the angriest and most outrageous video I’ll ever put up on my blog.

But it’s pretty much how I feel when, in polite company, we slide into that “to each his/her own tastes” relativistic chatter, Cheshire cat grins and all. Without the qualifying debate about how people acquire and develop tastes to begin with.

Also thought the music “excellence” wigs out there might appreciate the reminder that audiences care more for emotional relevance than peak performance.

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“I WANT MY ROCK STARS DEAD!” Yep, it’s none other than stand-up gadfly Bill Hicks, appearing in Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival in 1991.

Now, uh, what’s Bill doing here? This routine is probably one of the most “shock and awe” comedy segments I’ve ever come across, fully disorienting to any poor soul out on the town for an evening of fun and laffs.

Shock and Awe“? Perhaps the only thread linking a doctrine of state terrorism to Hicks’ routine is the belief that shock can be therapeutic.

As distinctly American as this philosophy might seem, Hicks’ “shock comedy” act does bear kinship resemblance to the nihilistic absurdist performances of the dadaists, who gave voice to the trauma and desensitization effects of war during the giddy, light-headed post-WWI years in Paris and Berlin.

At least, that’s how I explain the New Kids on the Block/Hitler Youth robot dance Bill does. As fellow comedian Brett Butler put it:

For all the talk about Bill being like Hendrix or Dylan or Jim Morrison or Lenny Bruce, it was Jesus Bill wanted to be. He wanted to save us all. But Bill got freeze-framed in the scene where Jesus went through the Temple and said ‘This is my father’s house, and you’ve turned it into a den of thieves.’ Because that’s what Bill always wanted to do, he wanted to be Christ as his angriest.

So there you have it: Bill Hicks is a Dada Dandy for the Deep South, and a very, very angry Jesus. Your archetypal role model.

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