John Walker's Electronic House

Letterman Finally Apologises For Hicks Incident

by on Jan.31, 2009, under Television

David Letterman did something decent last night. Just a bit late. He finally apologised for having cut Bill Hicks from his show in 1993, on Hicks’ twelfth appearance. Hicks was furious, and died a year later having never forgiven Letterman. Letterman expressed regret at the time, but never acknowledged that cutting the segment was an act of revolting cowardice, and demonstrative that he had lost any purpose he might have once had.

Fifteen years late, last night Letterman had Mary Hicks, Bill’s mother, on the show, and apologised to her personally. There’s then an over-rehearsed interview with her, but importantly this is an eight minute segment with a complete unknown, and the mother of a man most of the key demographics might never have heard of. And once the rehearsed anecdotes are over, Mary gives him some shit for what he did. Which is fairly fantastic. And then Letterman shows the original tape uncut.

I like that Letterman acted on this. He’s been haunted by it for a long time, and has said as much in the past. He’s done the right thing, and seemingly done it in a way that’s not scoring points, or linked in to something with which he might want to associate himself. It seems to be a genuine act of contrition.

The videos of the segments are below, but CBS in their infinite stupidity will have these removed from YouTube very soon. I’ll try and update them with working versions, and hopefully Worldwide Pants will have the sense to put the clips online in full very soon. Stick with it through the fuckwittery of the audience as they nervously laugh at the beginning – it’s revolting, but it’s not Letterman’s doing.

9 Comments for this entry

  • Rev. Stuart Campbell

    Man, you’re so Old Testament sometimes.

  • NM

    What do you mean by that, Rev. Stuart?

    And John, am I allowed not to like Hicks very much (except for his artistic roll stance?)

  • botherer

    You’re welcome to not enjoy his stand up, but I think you have to recognise the elegance of his style and delivery.

  • NM

    I am discomforted by his oft-displayed homophobia and his occasional misogyny.

  • botherer

    I think you’ve been the victim of irony.

  • Rev. Stuart Campbell

    Thing is, if I’d been Letterman I wouldn’t have shown that clip either, because it’s rubbish. It’s perhaps the poorest of all Hicks’ material, delivered by someone who’s clearly ill and weak. One might argue that that wasn’t why Letterman pulled it, of course, but Hicks’ memory was better served when it lay covered in dust in the archives.

  • Nick

    Hicks is a funny one. Because in some ways he is only part satire, the reason being that at times he just dropped the funny and went for pure venom. Satire only really works if you keep it funny. That’s it’s very nature.

    What made Hicks great was that he did this and got away with it, and not only did he get away with it made him someone to respect ever more. Usually if you drop the funny your a just a ranting old fool. But I think Hicks got away with it becuase he was just so human.

    I like a lot of his stuff but one of the things I most love about him is his wretched confliction between a true, desired love and hope in humanity and his utter despair and hatred of it.

    I think he died conflicted. And he never lived long enough to see weter his conflictions would ever be resolved.

  • HJ

    I missed out on Hicks – and I do feel I missed out – because I was too young when he was gaining popularity. I’ve got 2 of his dvds now and love them to bits, so seeing someone else I admire paying homage to him is quite touching, and I was so glad to see the vids still available on YT, I fully expected to be denied.
    Thanks for the pointer on this, and I enjoyed watching your cat being silly in the snow.