Be not deceived. Prophets still walk among us. We have a bad habit these days of calling them liars, or pushing them off cliffs made of our own insecurities, but they do.

One of that breed was the late stand-up comedian Bill Hicks, who died in Little Rock in 1994 from pancreatic cancer. He was only 32 years old at the time, but his biting wit and unflinching pronouncements on the failings of American society have made him a comic’s comic to this day. Huge in Europe and gaining a loyal following in the United States when he passed, Hicks was well on his way to becoming one of the titans, installed alongside folks like Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Charlie Chaplin in the grinning pantheon. As is, he’s remembered as one of the greats taken too soon — a man whose cerebral, angry, tough-love style makes today’s crop of corny puppeteers, faux-rednecks and culture-obsessed bitch-and-gripers seem more than a little bloodless by comparison.