3 Late Comedians Who Should’ve Had Their Own Shows

What would Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and Lenny Bruce—RIP all around—have done if they’d had their own TV shows?

There are fantastic TV shows about stand-up comedians right now. Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel just completed its fourth season, and the second season of HBO Max’s Hacks debuts today. Both series, though, are about fictional comics.

There’s nothing wrong with that (the shows are excellent), but we’re wondering what Bruce and two other gone-too-soon comedy legends would’ve done with their own shows. Since they’re not around to pitch for themselves, we fired up the fantasy machine and made our best guesses.

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Bill Hicks (1961–1994)

If chainsmoking, porn-celebrating, drug-chugging, truth-telling, counter-culture comic Bill Hicks ever had his own show, it probably would’ve been a late-night cable talk show on HBO or SHOWTIME.

Midnight with the Stoned Ape would have Tool as its house band, psilocybin tea in the “water” mugs, sizzling monologues, and truly interesting guests ranging from porn stars to politicians. And Hicks would sign off every episode with a bit of wisdom: “I believe that there is an equality to all humanity. We all suck.”

Pro tip: Unfamiliar with Bill Hicks? Check out his comedy specials on Prime Video, Netflix, and Tubi.

Mitch Hedberg (1968–2005)

You think Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made a show about nothing? Imagine what Mitch Hedberg could’ve done with the concept. Strategic Chill Locations would have stitched together Hedberg’s trademark sneaky, spacy one-liners into a loose, nearly stream-of-consciousness sitcom plot that goes nowhere but still leaves you fully satisfied.

And the obligatory product placement for things like fried beans (don’t waste time frying them twice), syrup-trap pancakes (aka waffles), and fajita cologne would finally get Mitch the riches he deserved.

Pro tip: You can watch Mitch Hedberg’s Comedy Central Presents special on Paramount+.

Lenny Bruce (1925–1966)

In his time, inflammatory truth merchant Lenny Bruce was pretty much blacklisted from TV. But he could’ve landed a cable show in the early 2000s because by then society had acclimated to his raunchy political humor. You know, unlike in the ‘60s, when Bruce’s controversial jokes got him arrested on obscenity charges.

But what kind of TV show would Bruce dream up? Well, as an actor and screenwriter, he worked on a thriller, a burlesque comedy, and a family film. So a Lenny Bruce TV series could’ve been anything. But, since we’re fantasizing . . .

The half-hour comedy show How to Talk Dirty and Influence People (borrowing the title of Bruce’s autobiography) would be like Curb Your Enthusiasm—except Bruce would really lean into being a jerk. It’d be radical candor all around, with Bruce explaining to everyone he meets just how and why they’re full of it.

It’s what the world needs now.

Pro tip: You won’t find Lenny Bruce comedy specials on streaming services, but YouTube has some. Also, you can see Dustin Hoffman’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of Bruce in the 1974 film Lenny on Pluto, Prime Video, and Tubi.

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