Within the cult of Hicks, it's hard to say what's "essential" from the Texas comic. Consider this collection an after-dinner mint to this year's excellent documentary American: The Bill Hicks Story. Two CDs feature material from well-known albums that aren't hard to find, but the selections are top-notch. Hearing Hicks take down Jay Leno ("Artistic Roll Call") is still a thrill today. Two DVDs hold more allure, featuring the Austin Bootleg Series, four shows between 1991-1993, the last of which, from October '93, took place just months before his death. There are clips from Houston in the early 1980s, when Hicks was starting out as a teen – before he sharpened his satire into a steel trap – plus the goofy short "Ninja Bachelor Party," a longtime Austin cable access gem. Of special note is a download card with Lo-Fi Troubadour, Hicks' acoustic album, a mellow flip side to his acerbic onstage wit. He gets lumped into the "outlaw" comic pile – the origins of which are explained on one DVD – but prophet was more appropriate. He would've had whips for every animal in this post-9/11 circus.
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