BROTHER SAM by Bill Kinison

BROTHER SAM

The Short, Spectacular Life of Sam Kinison
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A tasteless, tell-all bio of the outrageous, screaming stand- up comic Kinison, by his manager/brother. But how else to write the life story of a comedian whose tag line was ``Oh! Oh! Aaaaaaugh!'' and whose on-stage rantings included riffs on serial killers, sissy POWs, Satan, crucifixion, Charles Manson, world hunger, cunnilingus, and homosexual necrophilia? The son of a blackballed Pentecostal minister, Kinison was a ``traveling evangelist'' until 1978 when he decided to try stand-up comedy. Starting out in Houston, he felt by 1980 that his loud, vulgar, abrasive routine was ready for the famed Comedy Store in Los Angeles. It took a few years, but by 1983 Kinison had become a ``paid regular.'' He parlayed his growing local notoriety into spots on an HBO special and in Rodney Dangerfield's film Back to School. By 1985, he was nationally known, his screaming diatribes against women and marriage earning him close to $1 million annually. But his drinking, excessive drug use, and abuse of his wives and numerous lovers (who included director Penny Marshall, actress Beverly D'Angelo, and porn star Seka) would take their toll. Despite such powerful admirers as Robin Williams, Howard Stern, and David Letterman, Kinison would alienate the power brokers who might have solidified his career. The ``rock and roll'' comic, Kinison will perhaps best be remembered for his video rendition of ``Wild Thing,'' in which he spits and screams abuse at a writhing, delirious Jessica Hahn (yet another former lover) while snarling Billy Idol and a motley crew of heavy-metal heroes join the fun. Kinison died at the age of 38 in a car accident. At least, writes his brother, ``he did not die of excess'' like John Belushi. Unrestrained, ugly, and grotesquely, perversely captivating. Like the man himself.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1994
ISBN: 0-688-12634-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994