This article first appeared on VICE Canada.
I hate patriotism. I can't stand it, man—makes me fuckin' sick. It's a round world last time I checked. - Bill Hicks
Bill Hicks was the angry voice of reason for the disenfranchised and foul mouthed street criminals of his time—he was the man who smoked in the face of cancer. If you don't know who Bill Hicks was, do yourself a favour, click into a new tab, Google the comedian, and watch everything he ever did as the man was a savant imo (then come back and read the rest of this article, please.)
Sadly though, the world only got to listen to his ramblings for a mere 16-years as he died from pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the young age of 32, however, in his short time above ground Hicks proved to be one of the most influential comics of all time. And as with any well known person who dies young—especially a controversial one—rumours have run rampant following his death.
In the case of Hicks' death, none of those rumours are more prolific, and bizarre, than the notion that Hicks faked his death to become conspiracy monger Alex Jones. A quick Google search will bring you to hundreds of blog posts on the topic and self made videos crowd youtube as theorist attempt to further the conspiracy. While it's truly an intense amount of crazy, the idea has lived on the internet so long that—apart from the true believers—it has become an in-joke for redditors, channers, and a rogue crew of Alex Jones fans (potato-men?).
Most importantly though, this conspiracy seems to really fucking annoy Alex Jones—a 9/11 truther who has spread the notion that the kids killed in Sandy Hook were actors and the Quebec mosque shooting was a false flag attack.
"I'm sick of hearing about Bill Hicks," lamented Jones on a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience. "It hurts me that they're so dumb, they don't know I'm my own person, Alex Jones."
So, with that annoyance in mind, why don't we take an in-depth look at the theory?
The idea's first major appearance on the web was in 2006 in thread posts form on the forums Godlike Productions and Doppelganger and Identity Research Society. The theory, like all good conspiracies, is fractured as hell, so in order to explain I'm going to attempt to compile the most widely "accepted" ideas. First things first, the question of why Hicks decided to give up the possibility of being the voice of a generation to become a potatoman by the name of Alex Emerick Jones.
One massive branch of the theory revolves around a man named Kevin Booth. Booth's production company, Sacred Cow Productions, was behind comedy films for the likes of Hicks, Rogan, and Stanhope—and Booth also produced Hicks' posthumous comedy records. It was co-founded by Hicks and Booth in the early 90s but, since the comedian's death, it's one shining star has been, you guessed it, Alex Fuckin' Jones. So, long story short, many believe that Booth is actually the man with the plan who had Hicks switch up characters much like in pro wrestling.
Another widely held explanation by the theorists on why Hicks decided to play the character of Alex Jones full time is, well, they say Jones is a CIA disinfo agent put into the AM shock jock scene to discredit actual radio hosts. Here's a portion of a popular blog post explaining it:
Evidence indicates that Bill Hicks transitioned himself into a new 'right wing' talk-radio conspiracy-minded shock jock just as some in government were raising the alarm about Timothy McVeigh 'lone wolf' type domestic terrorists being inspired by AM radio talk jocks. Also it was the advent of the brand-new internet-era and so the timing was perfect to insert a glib provoking-agent into the 'alternative media' scene— someone who could get out front and the lead patriotic Americans around in circles. And so Bill Hicks apparently went to work for the CIA— transforming himself into Alex Jones, the new 'info-warrior'.
In order to become a new man, the theorists posit that he utilized "plastic surgery, testosterone, growth hormone, larynx surgery, and cosmetics." However, the one thing that people freak out about is that Jones and Hicks seemingly have similar teeth (seriously, a lot of work has gone into proving they have the teeth thing,) they have also done vocal comparisons and believe Jones' voice is the same as one Hicks used, at times, in his comedy.
There is, of course, the bonkers list of reasons that are IRREFUTABLE PROOF that the two are one man, this includes them having similar moles, having similar heights and facial profiles, people mistakenly calling the host "Bill" on-air, Jones' jocular references to himself as Hicks, the fact that Jones came out of nowhere for his first radio show in 1996, and, shit you not, the idea that Jones' middle name, Emerick, is the taken from Geoff Emerick the—Beatles producer who "killed Paul."
The Jones/Hicks truthers have also gone to the uncomfortable level of insanity of digging through Jones' birth certificate and other documents to see if it they're fake—which considering Alex Jones' role in the birther movement, is actually pretty fucking funny. The theory has even climbed the wonderful meta peak only certain conspiracies are able to ascend, with some theorists musing about the idea Jones may have started and propagated the theory himself to discredit accurate conspiracies about him.
But, perhaps the main driver of Jones' annoyance with the whole goddamn thing is the idea that the little potatoman looks far older than he is. Jones is currently 43 years-old while Bill Hicks would have been 55-years-old and the theorists are convinced Jones looks far older than he says he is—which is kind of insulting, I guess.
There are some similarities, the two are both are immensely intense on the mic, share a little bit of a similarity in looks, both are from Texas, and Hicks did tend to enjoy a conspiracy theory. However, with the recent change in Jones' politics the two now exist on drastically different poles politically.
While at the beginning of his career, Jones didn't have a hard time seeing conspiracies on both sides of the political spectrum—much like Hicks—as of late, Jones has giddied up to the nationalistic establishment by softly nuzzling Trump with the warm kindness of an old dog looking for his owner's hidden peanut butter. This, frankly is something that one would have a hard time seeing a consummate hater of the state like Bill Hicks do.
Still, though, despite it being utter bullshit, the conspiracy is so prolific that people will, sometimes in public, only address Jones as Bill or come up to him in restaurants and repeat Hicks name until Jones looks at them. With that apparently happening all the time, Jones said he's straight-up done with the conspiracy and furthermore, he said it annoys the family of the great comedian.
"Bill Hicks is in the ground folks," said Jones on his radio show in 2014. "Kevin [Booth] was there when he died. This isn't funny, this is sick."
Overall, the theory is, for lack of a better term, banana-pants crazy-town, and Jones is right—the notion that Hicks never truly died is disrespectful to the late great Hicks and his family, and it's good that Jones can see that.
It's just a shame the man doesn't extend that same respect to the 20 kids shot dead in the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an image that was removed due to copyright.
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