It’s a Bundyful Life

Watched the Married with Children Christmas episode, “It’s a Bundyful Life” (season 4), where Sam Kinison is Al’s guardian angel, then I fell down a rabbit hole, eventually discovering Kinison’s debut album, Louder Than Hell, was recorded at Zanies in Chicago.

Admittedly, a ton of Kinison’s material was over-the-top, scorned white dude misogyny that didn’t age well. And rightfully so. But, when I was in junior high, I had all of his cassettes and have no doubt they were among the first real inspirations that eventually led me to try stand-up for the first time nearly 20 years later.

I was already drawn to the fact that here was this guy unafraid to use his massive platform to shoot holes in the hypocrisy of the church when I found out he’d previously been a preacher. Then I was doubly fascinated.

I would have been about 13 at the time and it was 1992-93, so I had no idea Lenny Bruce had already blazed this trail.

I was growing up in a small, rural Florida town, kind of just then discovering local, smaller scale hypocrisy on my own. “Do as I say don’t do as I do.” Abusers and bigots sitting quietly in church pews.

Kinison’s comments on evangelicals and political and religious satire, coupled with his signature scream, was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I’d heard protest songs but never protest comedy.  It was exciting to hear an adult say, “Wait a minute, what about _____?” and throw questions shaped like wrenches into the status quo, then get a huge laugh from other adults.

Since living in Chicago, I’ve had the opportunity to do a couple local showcases at that Zanies, and now it is insane to me that I stood on the stage where Kinison recorded “World Hunger,” which, as fucked up as it is, is a 32-year-old joke that still makes me laugh.

1986: Kinison records Louder Than Hell.
1989: 9-year-old me watches Kinison be Al Bundy’s guardian angel, and loves it.
1992: Kinison dies after colliding with a car driven by a drunk teenager.
1993: After hearing one or two (I think) at my sister’s house, I get all of Kinison’s albums on cassette.
2010: For whatever reason, out of the blue, I decide to give stand-up a shot.
2011: I give stand-up a shot.
2017: I do several minutes on a local Tuesday night showcase at the club where Kinison recorded Louder Than Hell.

It hasn’t always been wonderful, but what a strange little life it’s been.
I don’t wish for one second I’d never been born.