Lenny Bruce. George Carlin. The giants of big-idea comedy. Bill Hicks? His name is right up there with them, but most people haven't heard of him. Part comedian, part philosopher, part preacher, his stand-up stood in a class by itself.

Bill Hicks was unlike most comedians. He told the truth, brazenly, and some would argue at his own peril. He didn't make "good TV." He was "too controversial." But he was a genius and a visionary. I don't throw the word hero around, but Bill was and still is one of my biggest heroes.

Bill died of pancreatic cancer in 1994, at the way-too-young age of 32. I can't tell you how many times since then I wished he were alive to comment on the goings on of today. There are so many things he would have had an absolute field day with, and it would have been glorious and hilarious to watch. AMERICAN: The Bill Hicks Story is an excellent primer. It's an introduction to Bill and his incredible work. Watch it, then go and consume every bit of Hicks you can find, from comedy albums to live performances. We miss you, Bill.

You can stream AMERICAN: The Bill Hicks Story on Netflix, and rent it on Amazon Instant Video (for for Prime subscribers), iTunes, and Google Play.