Plot: The most intense stand up comedian to ever storm the stage, Sam Kinison brought a unique slant to comedy and lived a wild life, one that is explored in this feature length documentary. After a run as a preacher, where his charisma and way with words made him a popular presence in the pulpit, Kinison would struggle to find his way in the world of stand up. But he would refine his act and find his true voice, become a kingpin in the field and build a lasting legacy on the stage. Kinison would also branch out into movies and music, but his primal screams and the stories of his wild, out of control lifestyle would be central to how he was remembered. This piece takes us back to how it all began and for fans of the offbeat comic, or stand up comedy in general, I Am Sam Kinison is an insightful look behind the curtain.
Entertainment Value: This is a feature length piece and has little filler, so it presents a fairly exhaustive look at the life and career of Sam Kinison, one of the most popular and notorious comics of all time. I Am Sam Kinison takes up back to Kinison’s childhood and through his days as a preacher, then to his days as a struggling comic until he broke through and became a major star. This journey is detailed through archival clips of his performances on stage and in movies, as well as comprehensive interviews with both friends and family members. These are candid, first hand accounts and shine a lot of light on Kinison as a person, as well as his motivations and inspirations when it came to his comic material. Kinison also has a strong voice here, through interviews and of course, footage of his performances.
The documentary has a no frills, but still effective approach, so the emphasis is on substance over style in this case. The piece is well crafted and flows well, but is just interviews combined with archival footage, with a little bit of original animation thrown in at times. I don’t mind this kind of approach, but I can see some who might a more creative or kinetic style. As I Am Sam Kinison is packed with insight about Kinison however, I have no reason to complain about how it is structured and as I said, it flows well and the editing is on point. Kinison’s family is open about his development and how he handled the eventual success, with some personal insights from Sam’s brother, who also helped manage the comic. You’ll also hear from his fellow comics and various other performers who were in Kinison’s inner circle, including Corey Feldman, Ted Nugent, and even Ron Jeremy. Anyone who appreciates solid documentaries, stand up comedy, or the creative process should check out I Am Sam Kinison.