Growing up in DC as a quiet, angry, alienated teen with an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and an obsessive interest in music, my discovery of the oeuvre of Henry Rollins, renaissance man, was something of a revelation. My first encounter of him was actually through the cinematic medium–popping up in bit parts like Bad Boys 2 or Johnny Mnemonic or a handful of other roles, knowledge of him happened almost through osmosis before a school administrator I was friendly with placed “Smile, You’re Traveling” in my hands.

Suddenly, that military-looking character actor was a major role model to me. His music career, despite my dear love of hardcore and punk, was actually tertiary as compared with his writing, acting, and general hyper-motivated renaissance man existence. Something about having someone from my town who seemed to check all the boxes of how I felt (or so I surmised through my consumption of as much of his writing as I could get my hands on) and was so capable and so determined and so disciplined…it spoke to me at a primal level. It said “this…this is who I want to be.” And that voice has never dulled, though allowances have been made as to personality differences.

This, all, is only relevant as a disclaimer as to my experience of watching Henry Rollins’ newest stand up special for Showtime, “Keep Talking, Pal,” as it should be noted that as an acolyte of the man himself, I have actually heard much of the content contained within before, in one media or another and am already biased to love it.

Nowhere was this more clear to me than in the first seconds of the special. Without preamble, Henry struts almost mechanically on stage, his movements almost mechanical approximations of humanity before launching into his hour-plus monologue, and I was delighted. While so much of my understanding of him is largely due to projection, seeing that one reminder of that strange alienated loner quality that first so endeared me to him just reminded me yet again why this man is such a hero of mine. Because despite (my projection says) feeling so…apart from things, he steadfastly continues to do anything and everything to be a part of the world at large in every way he can. And that alone is inspirational.

While much of the show contains expanded stories that have been documented other places like his encounters with the godlike beings of Rupaul, Ozzy Osbourne, and David Bowie, (each story of which contains beautiful and illuminating anecdotes on each figure) the first third of the special is dedicated seemingly to completely new material–largely topical. And it’s these portions which to me seem the most vital.

I am a bit of a oxymoronic misanthrope. I believe fervently in individuals, but collective humanity I have not much hope for or belief in. As my other hero, Terry Pratchett once said “The IQ of a mob is the IQ of its most stupid member divided by the number of mobsters,” and I view humanity mostly as a large mob. But get me down to a one on one basis and I will bend over backwards to believe in you and your dreams. Rollins seems to have a more even-keeled approach to this. His experience and intelligence dictating an incisive and biting approach to current events that get to the root of issues while acknowledging the monolithic problems that they are. This also belies a hope that he seems to have in humanity–he seems to truly believe that we as a whole can get better, he provides insights and opinions based on his understandings of the world, and he does so in an unassuming manner…all while shouting, of course. Its a beautiful thing to see, and actually restored some faith of mine in the general proceedings.

Because, hell, if Henry has hope then by golly so shall I. That’s the power of heroes.

Pre Order the special, out soon via Comedy Dynamics Network:

Video: https://apple.co/2TpeA45

Audio: https://apple.co/2Av5BY6