William Melvin Hicks (December 16, 1961 – February 26, 1994) was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist and musician. His material—encompassing a wide range of social issues including religion, politics, and philosophy—was controversial and often steeped in dark comedy.
At the age of 16, while still in high school, Hicks began performing at the Comedy Workshop in Houston, Texas. During the 1980s, he toured the U.S. extensively and made a number of high-profile television appearances, but it was in the UK that he amassed a significant fan base, filling large venues during his 1991 tour. He also achieved some recognition as a guitarist and songwriter.
Hicks died of pancreatic cancer on February 26, 1994, at the age of 32. In subsequent years, his work gained significant acclaim in creative circles—particularly after a series of posthumous album releases—and he developed a substantial cult following. In 2007, he was No. 6 on Channel 4’s list of the “100 Greatest Stand-Up Comics”, and rose to No. 4 on the 2010 list. In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him No. 13 on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time.