Sam Kinison's "Legendary Scream" - Comedy Recess
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Samuel Burl Kinison was an American stand-up comedian and actor. A former Pentecostal preacher, he performed stand-up routines that were characterized by an intense style, similar to charismatic preachers, punctuated by his distinctive scream.
Kinison began his career in Houston, Texas, where he performed in small clubs. He became a member of a comedic group at the Comedy Workshop, known as the Texas Outlaw Comics, that also included Bill Hicks, Ron Shock, Riley Barber, Steve Epstein, Andy Huggins, John Farneti, and Jimmy Pineapple. Hicks cited Kinison as a major influence on his comedic style, noting that "He was the first guy I ever saw to go on stage and not in any way ask the audience to like him." In 1980, Kinison moved to Los Angeles hoping to find work at The Comedy Store, but was first employed as a doorman. He soon developed a cocaine habit, quickly progressing to the freebase form, and struggled to make a foothold in the business until his brother Bill moved to Los Angeles to help manage his career.
His big break came on HBO's Rodney Dangerfield's Ninth Annual Young Comedians Special in August 1985. After noting the performance of Bob Nelson, reviewer Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, "the most interesting of the other eight comedians is the savagely misogynistic Sam Kinison. Mr. Kinison specializes in a grotesque animalist howl that might be described as the primal scream of the married man." Later, during Kinison's appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1985, Letterman's introduction of Kinison warned his audience, "Brace yourselves. I'm not kidding. Please welcome Sam Kinison."
Kinison played on his former role as a Bible-preaching evangelist, taking satirical and sacrilegious shots at the Bible, Christianity and famous Christian evangelist scandals of his day. Kinison's daring comedy helped shoot him to stardom. On several videos of his stand-up routines, a shot of the personalized license plate on his 1986 Corvette reveals the words "EX REV."
He was associated with the Los Angeles rock music scene and was occasionally accompanied by a touring band. He also gained a reputation as having a prodigious appetite for drugs and alcohol.
Despite what people might thing, Sam Kinison dies in a car crash. On Friday, April 10, 1992, Kinison was driving his white 1989 Pontiac 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am and was struck head-on on U.S. Route 95, 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Interstate 40 and around 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Needles, California, by a pickup truck driven by 17-year-old Troy Pierson, who had been drinking alcohol. The pickup truck crossed the center line of the roadway and went into Kinison's lane. At the time of the collision, Kinison was traveling to Laughlin, Nevada, to perform at a sold-out show.
Sam definitely had a unique style. Check out this clip from Dangerfield’s Comedy Club (1986). Sam Kinison is in this week's comedy recess. Enjoy !!!!