Bill Hicks: Banned on Letterman

Bill Hicks had performed on the David Letterman’s Late Night Show 11 times.

Every set had been hit. Letterman liked him, audiences loved him. Being on Letterman validated Hicks and let him see where the lines were, where the possibilites to take humor further were.

Hicks was invited to perform for the twelfth time on the show on October 1, 1993.

When Hicks stepped onto the center stage at CBS’s Ed Sullivan Theater for the afternoon taping, he knew he was dying. His pancreatic cancer had spread to his liver. He only had months to live.

This set was going to be the best set ever. He opened with news of his new television show called “Let’s Hunt and Kill Billy Ray Cyrus.” The audience roared with laughter. Dancing, gays, cursing, lesbians, pro-lifers, orphans, cemeteries, smokers, non-smokers, heaven, hell, Jesus, rabbits and dead old ladies all take a hit.

A hilarious set. Backstage in the Green Room, everyone seemed pleased. Thumbs up from showrunners and producers.

Hicks left pleased. But later that night in his hotel room he got a call from the show’s executive producer Robert Morton telling him the set had been axed for being too controversial and wouldn’t make it to air.

It was the first comedy act to be censored on the show.

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