Sam Kinison Family Entertainment Hour
Published Aug 26, 2016Sam Kinison's 1991 Family Entertainment Hour is a 51-minute barrage of glib hypotheticals, withering sarcasm and rage. He's mean, clever and creatively ambitious, making for a hell of a funny special. While Kinison's material is at times outdated — mostly due to the early '90s subject matter — his ability to turn even the smallest joke into a full-blown tirade is more than enough to keep you watching.
Kinison is a fiend for anything disgusting, cruel or bitter, and the louder he can deliver it the better. His entire performance is punctuated with his trademark shouting fits, somewhere between a WWE wrestler and a rather rotund male beatnik in full-on labour. He's a lit fuse from start to finish.
Kinison is repentantly bitter about his past relationships. His personal material betrays a vulnerability rarely seen among hard-boiled comedians of his ilk. Ever the cynic however, Kinison doesn't exactly get carried away with moments of clarity or sentimental epiphany. The doors to whatever desolate realms of positivity Kinison might have possessed close as quickly as they open. Still, they provide a unique, intermittent dimension at crucial points throughout Kinison's routine.
Kinison's harsh comedy was always driven in large part by his troubled relationships and marriages. While dwelling on humour of a "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" stripe was always his forte, one does get the impression that his intensity as a performer could have — at times — been put towards more interesting or topical material. Perhaps the '90s weren't ready for that, or perhaps that was strictly the domain of other angry comics of the day (e.g. Bill Hicks), but the men v. women dialogue does get a little bit flat towards the last part of his set.
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