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Sam Kinison was an American comedian best known for his crass humor and trademark scream. The Grammy-nominated comedian received his first break from fellow comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
Sam Kinison - Full Episode (45:17)
A former preacher, Sam Kinison's raw comedy brought him intense highs and lows.
The full biography of Sam Kinison.
Actress-Director Rain Pryor talks about how her father Richard Pryor was a comedy pioneer with his raw stand-up performances and honest critiques of race.
Actress-Director Rain Pryor talks about her father Richard Pryor's comedic influences including Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Gleason and Bill Cosby and the comedians who have been inspired by him like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Steve Harvey.
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Not everyone found Kinison funny. Some were put off by his crass and crude style while others objected to some of the topics he chose to discuss in his act. Many found his rants about women to be offensive. Nothing caused as much controversy as his jokes about the disease AIDS. He received death threats and some of his appearances were picketed. Around this time,
Kinison settled a lawsuit with United Artists over his earlier failed film. He received another blow when his younger brother Kevin committed suicide in 1988.
Despite his personal challenges, Kinison continued with his hectic stand-up comedy tours and released his third album, Leader of the Banned (1990), to mixed reviews. The critics praised his comic routines, but they largely panned his musical efforts, which included covers of such rock classics as "Highway to Hell" and "Mississippi Queen."
Kinison experienced some difficulties in his personal life. According to the book Brother Sam, he had several car wrecks in 1990 because he was driving while intoxicated. His long-time girlfriend Malika Souiri was reportedly raped in the Los Angeles home they shared by a man the two had met at a club earlier that evening. Souiri shot at her attacker several times, using one of Kinison's guns. Kinison was unaware of what was happening at the time because he was passed out in another room in the house.
While he never completely quit using drugs or drinking, Kinison did cut back on his outrageous behavior in his final years. He even tried Alcoholics Anonymous for a time. Trying to revive his sagging career, Kinison made a guest appearance on the sitcom Married With Children, which earned stellar ratings. He soon began negotiating with the Fox television network to appear in his own sitcom.
Kinison starred as the boisterous, miniature alter ego of a middle aged accountant (Tim Matheson) on Charlie Hoover, which premiered in November 1991. While the show only lasted for a few months, it helped reignite interest in Kinison. He was reportedly negotiating a two-film deal with New Line Cinema when his career came to a tragic halt.
On April 5, 1992, Kinison married his girlfriend Malika Souiri in Las Vegas. The couple honeymooned in Hawaii for a few days before returning to California so that Kinison could make it to a gig in Laughlin, Nevada. Kinison and Souiri set out for Laughlin on April 10 with Kinison's brother Bill and several others following them in a van.
About 200 miles east of Los Angeles, Kinison's sports car was hit by a pickup truck driven by a 17-year-old. He was conscious briefly after the accident. According to Brother Sam, Kinison's final words were "Why now? I don't want to die. Why?" He then stopped breathing and efforts to revive him proved unsuccessful. At the age of 38, one of America's most distinctive comedians died from his injuries.
No matter how anyone felt about his material, there can be no denying that Kinison broke new ground in the world of comedy.
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