A screaming sampler from Brother Sam
The first special, "Breaking the Rules," a simple affair from 1987, is vintage Kinison, as he stalks the stage in his beret and trenchcoat, armed with a microphone and some natural magnetism. He simply demands that you¸ and the audience, which includes his mother and Hugh Hefner, watch him, as he rails against women and the pain they inflict on men, showing off his greatest strength as a stage performer. Kinison had this amazing ability to portray a seething rage that sat just below the surface of a smile and soft voice, hiding there until it was time to emerge in a boiling scream.
He also wielded a solid understanding of religion, particularly the Christian version, which resulted in hilarious segments about real-world takes on the stories of the Bible and bits about the televangelists of the time. Less engaging are his screeds against homosexuals (informed by the now-archaic theories about AIDS)¸though his bit about gay necrophiliacs is funny mainly because of his howling portrayal of a dead victim. When he sits down at a piano for his finale, there's something so unique about the contrast between the sound of the instrument and what he's saying that it makes for the perfect end to his act.
The second special, 1991's "The Sam Kinison Family Entertainment Hour," is distinctly different, showing just how much Kinison had changed in just a few years of stardom. Instead of the simple curtain and stage, the show now shared Kinison's rock-star style, with a full band, and an opening that sees him walk two scantily clad beauties (his soon to be wife and her sister) to the stage on leashes. Kinison's look had changed similarly, exchanging his beret for a gypsy bandana¸ and looking very much the image of abuse and wear-and-tear.
His act was similarly "big," coming off more like a variety show than stand-up, as he sings and plays guitar on an indulgent, straight-up rock song and brings audience members to the stage to tell stories about how women have screwed them over, with the winner's tormentor getting a berating phone call, live on-stage, from Kinison. The usual targets are present again, including women (obviously) and televangelists, but Kinison's lifestyle influenced his act, with plenty of material on drugs (which he claims to have recently kicked and sadly states that the stuff can kill you) and music (complete with rap bashing in front of audience member Ice-T.) There's more "material" than screaming this time, with talk about timeless concepts like the over-proliferation of cable channels and Hollywood's insistence on remaking old ideas instead of new ones. It's a decent set, but Kinison became a cartoonish "Wild Thing" at this point, and it's too easy to see the end in sight.
The audio is presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks that, like the video, do their job, but not much past it. Kinison's voice is nice and clear, and has enough separation from the audience's reaction in the center-focused mix to sound good. The music in the second special also gets fine treatment, coming across nice and strong.
The other extra is the silly Scream Meter, which unleashes a Kinison scream and shakes the menu when selected.
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