A new documentary, I Am Sam Kinison, will explore the life and impact of the controversial shock comic with commentary from Charlie Sheen, Jay Leno, Tommy Chong and Corey Feldman, among others. The film will premiere on Spike TV on December 19th at 10 p.m. EST, with an uncensored version airing two hours later.
A two-minute preview of the warts-and-all film shows clips of Kinison performing, including one where Rodney Dangerfield introduced him at an early show, as well as a glimpse of the 1989 Rolling Stone cover story on Kinison and insights on his triumphs and flaws from his friends and admirers. “Sam was deeply flawed as a person, by all accounts,” Joe Rogan says at one point. “That doesn’t mean he wasn’t the greatest of all time.”
Before his death in 1992, when a drunk driver struck and killed him at the age of 38, Kinison became one of the loudest mouthpieces in politically incorrect comedy. His targets included two of his ex-wives, the Middle East, sexuality, Dr. Ruth and God. He presented his gigs like heavy-metal concerts, never hiding his addictions and funneling it all through an unforgettable primal scream. “Most comedians have an anger, either real or imagined,” Leno says in the clip. “With Sam, it was never imagined. It was like a punch in the face: bang, bang, bang.”
I Am Sam Kinison was directed by filmmaker Derik Murray, who has made a number of I Am … documentaries, including ones focusing on Chris Farley, Evel Knievel and Heath Ledger.
Last year, a compendium of Kinison’s concert films and albums, dubbed Sam Kinison: The Definitive Comedy Collection, came out via Comedy Dynamics. It featured seven DVDs, including a new documentary, three CDs and a poster. Prior to its release, Kinison’s brother and biographer, Bill, spoke with Rolling Stone about his brother. “His rage, his energy, his persona, his comedy is all as relevant today as it was then, and I’m not saying that because Sam was my brother,” he said. “You either liked him or you didn’t. There wasn’t middle ground.”