Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back from Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison (2010)

Director: Robert Small

Starring: A dead Sam Kinison, Denis Leary, Chris Rock, Jay Leno and a bunch of other comedians popular in the 80s

More info: IMDb

Plot: Sam Kinison, a former Pentecostal preacher turned beret-wearing, bad-boy comedian, is the focus of this tribute from a galaxy of comedic talents who analyze his hard living and the rage-filled comedy that took the entertainment world by storm. Jay Leno, Denis Leary, Chris Rock and others discuss their friendships with him and his unusual but perceptive humor, while clips of Kinison performing live illustrate how effective his screaming style was.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? It wouldn't kill me but once was enough.

It's the mid-80s, maybe '86. A huge Rodney Dangerfield fan, I tuned into one of his HBO specials that featured up and coming comedians. I remember seeing four comedians for the first time - Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Bob Saget and some other guy whose name escapes me. They were all very funny and quite different from one another but the one that stood out and connected most with me was Kinison. I bought his records and caught everything he appeared in. I couldn't get enough. Then, six years later, he died. What a fucking pisser.

Kinison was unique. His bit on how to deal with world hunger by stop sending food and send them Uhauls instead is classic. Kinison resonated with me in my mid-to-late teens in a way no other comedian had at that time. He was THE rock star of stand-up. This 2010 special is a retrospective on his brief meteoric career with anecdotes from those in the business who knew him well. There are a ton of bits from Sam's act mixed in which had me grinning from ear to ear the entire time. It's been a long time since I listened to any of my Kinison CDs and it was nice to revisit a comedian that had such an impact on my sense of humor way back when. It's a fun little documentary for fans and for those who are uninitiated with Kinison, it's a great place to start.

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