He began performing at the Comedy Workshop in Houston, Texas at the age of 16. He toured the United States during the 1980's and made a number of television appearances. It was in the UK that he became significantly famous, filling large venues during his 1991 tour.
Hicks died at the age of 32 on February 26, 1994 because of pancreatic cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas. He developed a substantial "cult" following after a series of posthumous album releases which gained a significant measure of acclaim in creative circles. He was voted the fourth greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's list of the UK's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups in 2007, and he maintained that ranking on the 2010 list.