Kinison was an impressively tall individual renowned for his outspoken comedy style and popularity among his audiences.
Kinison’s jokes about the AIDS crisis caused much debate and was met with death threats, leading to him receiving television censorship warnings. On April 4, 1992 he married Malika Souiri in Hawaii before flying back home for five days of marriage in California before performing in Laughlin Nevada.
Early Life and Education
Kinison made headlines for both his comedy skills and alcoholism in a short life span, rising quickly through comedy stardom only to quickly descend into drugs and alcohol abuse. At one time, he appeared regularly on a popular sitcom while also having roles in major films before suddenly collapsing from their addiction.
His eccentric style and uninhibited rants made him one of the most memorable and influential comedians of the Eighties. He regularly performed with heavy metal bands and became notorious for his horrific renditions of Troggs’ “Wild Thing.”
Born in Peoria, Illinois and starting preaching at age 17, Kinison studied at Pinecrest Bible Training Center before beginning comedy performances in 1980. Moving to Los Angeles shortly thereafter and donning his trademark beret and overcoat ensemble soon followed; before passing away in 1992.
After being named Texas’ funniest man twice, Kinison relocated to Los Angeles and found a home at The Comedy Store, West Hollywood comedy club in West Hollywood. There, he met fellow comics Bobcat Goldthwait and Jim Carrey; Kinison also developed a heavy metal musical side as evidenced by his 1986 album Louder Than Hell which included a cover version of Troggs’ Wild Thing by the way of cover version.
Kinison found his big break when Rodney Dangerfield offered him a spot on his Young Comedians special, then began appearing on other programs such as Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman; additionally, Kinison made an appearance in Back to School movie. Even with an unruly reputation and substance abuse issues threatening to derail his career, Kinison kept it going by continuing his acting career even when things got out of hand.
Achievement and Honors
He made appearances in two HBO comedy specials and several popular television shows such as Married With Children. His crass and crude humor caused some outrage; for example, when discussing women, drugs, or religion with fans. Death threats and boycotts followed; his first album, Have You Seen Me Lately?, was even issued with a disclaimer label that indicated its content did not represent Warner Brothers views; an indicator of his rebellious spirit.
Kinison died tragically at age 38 in a car crash, leaving a legacy of shock comedy delivered with an audible scream. Although some find his material offensive, many consider him one of the most original comedians ever; his final set, released in 2016, serves as a poignant reminder of this remarkable talent lost.
Kinison was known for his dry wit, yet was always kind and generous with those around him. But sometimes his outrageous jokes didn’t land well with audiences: his comments about women, religion and televangelists could prove particularly offensive.
Kinison struggled with many difficulties in his personal life, from two failed marriages and drug addiction, to outbursts of violence and receiving numerous death threats. His jokes about AIDS also created controversy; Kinison frequently apologized for them.
On April 4, 1992 in Laughlin, Nevada, he performed his last stand-up act before dying due to drunk driving in a head-on collision on their way back from Las Vegas show. Malika Souiri had recently become his wife; when his death occurred they were both on their way back home when the incident took place. The head-on collision was later blamed on drunk drivers.
Kinison’s outlandish comedy style got him in trouble with television censors. His big break came when he appeared in HBO comedy special, “The Young Comedians Special”, in 1985. Since then he has also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman as well as appearing in Rodney Dangerfield movie Back to School.
Kinison garnered many accolades and awards throughout his career, yet was not universally loved by the public. Some were offended by his crude humor while others objected to the topics he chose to cover – especially jokes aimed at women which caused much contention and earned death threats from some viewers. Still touring and producing several successful comedy albums was no obstacle; as well as performing covers like the Troggs’ Wild Thing with his own version.