sam kinison photo

Comedy Review: Comic Kinison Still Far From Being Family Fare

By Glenn Doggrell
Originally printed in The Los Angeles Times
Friday, December 28, 1990

SAN DIEGO — Sam Kinison will not be replacing Walt Disney as a staple in family entertainment for a while.

At least not until he quits graphically describing what he considers disgusting homosexual habits.

Or graphically describing sexual acts. Or graphically describing the male anatomy.

Playing to about 500 people Tuesday night in the main ballroom at the Hilton Hotel on Mission Bay–the first of a two-night run–Kinison, sporting a new beard, wore a black bandanna with white skulls to hold back his long hair and asked for understanding from his die-hard fans in the crowd as he makes the transition to family entertainment. In fact, he said, his HBO special, scheduled to appear in March, will even be called “The Sam Kinison Family Entertainment Hour.”

But, you have to ask, what family? The Manson family, maybe. Certainly not the Partridge family.

Kinison aims to shock. He’s not the funniest comedian; he’s often vulgar. To some, that’s cathartic. He does command your attention.

Kinison’s current audience generally is considered to be 18- to 25-year-old males, but Tuesday’s crowd included a generous mix of fans, including his mother (who loved the act), bikers, women in designer dresses, construction workers, collegiate types and professionals. And several hardcore fans who had come to PAAAAAARTY!!! and hear Kinison vent his rage on:

* Elton John: Unprintable.
* Homosexuals: Unprintable.
* Rap musicians: Unprintable.

But what can be aired here are Kinison’s thoughts on Dan Quayle–or as Kinison prefers to put it, the best assassination insurance George Bush could have. Kinison describes Quayle at a Cabinet meeting:

“Hey, Dan’s here. Anyone want anything from Burger King?”

“If he was ever president,” Kinison continued, “we’d have to give him that ride through Dallas.”

The rotund, 37-year-old comedian would also like to entertain the troops in Operation Desert Shield.

“It’s a natural. These guys are 18 to 25 years old. Do they want to see Bob Hope without any women? I DON’T THINK SO!!!

Kinison’s humor is fueled by rage, a sense of pent-up frustration at life’s injustices toward Kinison, as perceived by Kinison. He looks around and doesn’t like some of the things he sees. He rails at these demons with bellows and shouts.

The atmosphere was not what you would expect at the Hilton. The stately ballroom had been transformed into a huge, smoke-filled bar with loud rock music drowning out conversations at the cabaret seating before the show.

Kinison liberally doused his routine with four-letter words and gestures. A high, hoarse laugh often interrupted his rage.

Three silver rings filled his right hand as he constantly paced the stage. The 57-minute act flew by.

His fans raged and shouted with him. Say it again, Sam! Even when Kinison verbally attacked a man on crutches, a heckler, the crowd loved it.

Kinison also took aim at fellow shock comic Andrew Dice Clay: “That retard in Fonzie’s jacket.” He then explained that Dice, as he calls him, didn’t have the sense not to discuss X-rated material on a show that kids were watching. “WHAT AN IDIOT! WHAT A JACKASS!” Kinison concluded.

Kinison doesn’t help his family image when he talks about sex and aphrodisiacs, either.

Or when he talks about drugs.

“There should be a law that says you can smoke a fatty when you’re driving. Pot makes you a more considerate driver. You wave people past. You let them cut in front of you.”

Or his former cocaine use at parties:

“I didn’t get a straw, I got a garden hose.”

But this act is a start toward a tamer Kinison. The homeless, the hungry and AIDS victims–all former Kinison targets–were spared Tuesday night. And women as sexual objects–at one time a large part of the act–only got a light dusting toward the show’s end.

But still, Kinison has a ways to go before his show is one EVERY MOTHER COULD LOVE!!!