William Melvin "Bill" Hicks (December 16, 1961 ? February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist, and musician. His humor challenged mainstream beliefs, aiming to "enlighten people to think for themselves." Hicks used a ribald approach to express his material, describing himself as "Chomsky with dick jokes", while conceding that his humor was "caring". His material largely consisted of general discussions about society, religion, politics, philosophy and personal issues.
Hicks' material was often controversial and steeped in dark comedy. In both his stand-up performances and during interviews, he often criticized consumerism, superficiality, mediocrity and banality within the media and popular culture, describing them as oppressive tools of the ruling class, meant to "keep people stupid and apathetic."
Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. In the years after his death, his work and legacy achieved the significant admiration and acclaim of numerous comedians, writers, actors and musicians alike. In 2007 he was voted the 6th greatest stand-up comic on the UK's Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and again in the updated 2010 list as the 4th greatest stand-up comic.