Bill Hicks was a comedian from the American South who took the antics of Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman to an acidic level. He took aim at the easy targets, like the Republican party of the '80s and '90s, but also attacked the malaise that advertising and capitalism had sunk much of the country into by the first Gulf War. His rants could swing easily from gut-busting descriptions of American ignorance (like the time a waitress in the South asked him why he was reading) to wince-inducing descriptions of Rush Limbaugh's imagined scatological fantasies with Barbara Bush.

Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at age 32 and he probably would have hated this documentary, which weighs heavily on the sentimental side of his story. But it's still a great portrait of a comedian who cut to the heart of 20th-century America.—Finn Cohen

American: The Bill Hicks Story (2010)
Saturday, April 30
8:30 p.m.
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 North State St, Chicago
Tickets $12