Russell Crowe to make Bill Hicks biopic his directorial debut. Wait, what?

Bill Hicks was a legendary American comic who was always more famous in England and Europe than he was in the US (mainly from touring there in the early nineties). He died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32, and still holds the all-time comedian record for fewest pictures of him smiling. Russell Crowe is an Oscar-winning actor who loves sandwiches. According to the Daily Telegraph (Australia), Crowe is set to make his directorial debut on a biopic of Hicks.

RUSSELL Crowe has signed on to make his feature film directorial debut – a biopic about the life of the late US comedian Bill Hicks.
Currently in Iceland shooting biblical epic Noah, Crowe has teamed up with old schoolmate Mark Staufer who has written the script. Production is expected to start next year.
“Bill Hicks’ life is tragically short, but spectacularly interesting,” Staufer said. “The screenplay has gone through a number of drafts and we’ll go into production early next year.”
Crowe was tipped to play the film’s lead but has signed on for directorial duties. His only directing jobs have been short films and video clips for wife Danielle Spencer. [Telegraph]

It’s hard to tell yet how far into development this actually is just yet. It hasn’t hit the US trades yet, and scoops from Australian papers can be pretty sketchy. With biopics, you’d imagine there’s a complicated legal dance over who owns life rights, and whose permission you have to get, and who owns certain bits, and blah blah blah – which the story says nothing about. In any case, if it’s really happening, it seems like a weird choice. Russell Crowe is a great actor, and with some guys who are great actors, you can tell they understand comedy – Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, John C. Reilly. Unless you count 30 Odd Foot of Grunts videos, I’m not sure Russell Crowe has even been in a comedy. It’s hard to know if he understands comedy. He seems more like a guy who understands buffets.

See what I did there? I bet you had no idea I was going to end with a fat joke. You see, that’s what comedy is all about, the element of surprise.