In October 1993, occasionally controversial comedian Bill Hicks became the first stand-up comic to have an entire set censored from “The Late Show With David Letterman,” after CBS deemed his performance unsuitable for television. The “lost set” became mythical almost immediately and actually boosted Hicks’ career by causing “more attention than my other 11 appearances on Letterman times 100,” according to the man himself.
Of course, the set is now freely available for anyone to view in various corners of the internet. Letterman even aired it on his show in 2009 during an episode dedicated to Hicks, in which he invited the late comedian’s mother Mary on the show and apologized for not airing the set.
Although slightly incendiary — in typical Hicks fashion — it’s incessantly dark, brutally honest and incredibly funny. Hicks attacks everyone from Marky Mark Wahlberg and Billy Ray Cyrus to pro-lifers and Christians. “A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks,” Hicks riffed, famously. “Do you think if Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a fucking cross? It’s kind of like going up to Jackie Onassis wearing a sniper-rifle pendant. ‘Hey Jackie, just thinking of John. We loved him.’”
Below is a set from earlier in Hicks’ career — featuring a healthier looking Bill — which is interesting to compare to the “lost set.” By the time of the”Letterman” performance, Hicks was very sick and would eventually lose his battle with pancreatic cancer the following year.