Sam Kinison: Wild Child

It’s unfortunate that the curators of Sam Kinison’s catalog have limited access to his best material. This two-disc set features four performances by Kinison, though three of them were filmed in 1991, when he was selling out 5,000-seat theaters but his routine was in creative freefall. (To make matters worse, two of those routines look and sound like bootleg recordings.) The 1987 show “Breaking All the Rules” is easily the best of the bunch, with a still-hungry Kinison prowling the stage like a panther. Kinison’s playful bitterness, however, turns to pure ugliness on 1991’s “Family Entertainment Hour.” Kinison’s clearly playing to his audience’s fears here (gays), and even the bits that are supposedly for the women pander to the men at the same time. The gay bashing gets worse in the other two performances, “Outlaws of Comedy” and “Live in Las Vegas” (the bootleg shows), and even his audience appears to have had enough of it. He even had a band for two of the shows. (They were terrible.) If you want to speed-watch the set, pop in “Brother Sam,” a 2002 Playboy Channel tribute that features interviews with Kinison’s brother Bill as well as Rodney Dangerfield.

The real jewel in this set is the dress rehearsal footage, shot sometime around the “Breaking All the Rules” era. They use similar material, but Kinison seems looser here, more playful. Lastly, we must discuss the packaging, a needlessly oversized jewel case containing the two DVDs in paper sleeves. It screams of ‘the plant was having a clearance sale,’ which speaks to the overall lack of quality in the set. This is currently selling for $10 at Amazon. That sounds fair to us.

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