The greatest comedy performance I ever saw happened under a bridge.
My best friend and I saw Tim Wilson for the first time at a festival in Chattanooga. They put him outdoors, on a small stage with ampitheatre-style seating under an overpass.
A comic outdoors? This we had to see.
Tim Wilson has passed on, and the saddest part may be that from here on, we will have only a finite amount of material.
He crushed that, and with it, my philosophy on how to enjoy comedy changed. Tim Wilson struck me as what would happen if George Carlin had grown up in rural Georgia. He could communicate to his audience while pontificating on subjects above some of their heads.
In short, he was Jeff Foxworthy with more than one joke.
Tim Wilson became one of my very favorite comics, and though I never saw him again live, I bought his albums and enjoyed much laughter while absorbing his thoughts on everything from PEDs in sports to the decline of the American social climate. In a world where Dane Cook is selling out arenas, it was nice knowing that there was a smart, articulate comic for me to enjoy, who, like me, also loved NASCAR.
See, it’s kind of an odd thing where I’m from to bring an academic, well-read opinion on things. Thinking freely/differently is often frowned upon – it’s bad for the ballclub, and frankly, it scares people. Tim Wilson managed to do it while not alienating his core group of fans.
That’s not to say he didn’t pander on occasion (“Hillbilly Homeboy” and “Cleminem” come to mind), but his material was reflective of a guy who had experienced good and bad in life and generally wished the best for the people in his country.
Twenty years to the day after Bill Hicks passed, we have lost Tim Wilson. It would be easy to say that the world is two times less funnier today without them, but that would not begin to describe the loss the comedy world has suffered.