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carl labove ghost story

R.I.P. Carl LaBove

Sean L. McCarthy

Carl LaBove died today following a long battle with cancer. He was 62.

LaBove, an original founding member of “The Outlaws of Comedy,” was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up a military child, seeing the world, before landing back in Texas as a teen to begin his comedy career at 19. His best friend then, and until the day he died: Sam Kinison.

“When Carl and Sam came out from Texas, Carl LaBove was the funnier of the two,” recalled Mike Binder, a young comic at that time himself, who captured LaBove on camera one last time for his Showtime docuseries on The Comedy Store.

LaBove was born in Fort Worth Texas, grew up a military child, which required his family to move all around the world during his youth. At age nineteen he discovered stand up comedy with the man who would become his best friend, Sam Kinison. Together, LaBove and Kinison turned comedy touring into rock-n-roll.

Here was Carl opening for Sam at the MSG Theater in 1989.

And when Kinison died, he died in LaBove’s arms.

Of course, their relationship was more complicated than that. As he told Binder, and other interviewers before him over the past decade, LaBove had to come to terms with the fact that his child might probably be Kinison’s.

“I think in that moment, even though I haven’t admitted it in many years, I think I forgave him for all the things he did to me,” LaBove said. “You know, I found out he fathered my daughter after he was dead. So he was having an affair behind my back with my wife, and I knew he was doing it with other people, but I didn’t think he was going to fuck me over. But he did.”

“I’m lucky I got here. I got to learn how to forgive myself, of all things. I got to make things right.”

LaBove appeared in the Whoopi Goldberg movie, Jumpin’ Jack Flash , as Earl the guard. He also appeared in episodes of Seinfeld and Roseanne , performed multiple times on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno , as well as on Roseanne’s mid-90s Saturday Night Special series, and put out his own stand-up DVD, “A Night at the Frolic.”

A fundraiser last fall helped LaBove cover medical bills for treatment of his prostate cancer.

He shall be missed.

Here’s LaBove performing on “Pauly Shore & Friends,” filmed around 2009.

The Comedy Store has offered this tribute to LaBove:

carl labove ghost story

Thank you @davidplastik for capturing so many great memories of Carl. pic.twitter.com/gm0Jea8qix — The Comedy Store (@TheComedyStore) April 24, 2021

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Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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4 thoughts on “ r.i.p. carl labove ”.

I Knew Carl, when he played in comedy club here in Houston around 2003, We became friendly and I saw him a number of times over the years, the last time in Las Vegas. An Underrated Comic Talent and he was a Good Guy. A number of years ago, he called me for my Birthday, and we spoke for about 30 min. He didn’t have to do that and he even gave me his Cell #, but out of respect I never used it, He honored me, and I will remember him as one of the funniest and nicest guys I have ever known. I hope he is making God Laugh. Carl, I and many people we both know will miss you, I feel honored to have met him. My Prayers are with you.

What a loss to both comedy and the planet itself.

I worked with Carl many times, and we first crossed paths in Salt Lake City when I had a morning radio job in 2001. He was working a club called “The Comedy Circuit” where the owner was having money among other problems and the comedy condo’s electricity was turned off so Carl stayed at my house for the week.

We went golfing one afternoon and he told me all kinds of great stories, and we really hit it off.

On one of the later holes, it was an odd configuration where the green was elevated from where the tee was, and we both hit our shots but couldn’t see the surface of the green.

My shot ended up slightly off the green, but we couldn’t find Carl’s ball after several minutes of searching, and it was odd to us as it looked like he had hit a pretty good shot from where we stood.

At first it was funny, and then it became frustrating as we couldn’t locate his ball anywhere, and there wasn’t any rough in sight.

I decided to just play the hole out, and Carl would use another ball on the next hole.

When I went to the hole to take out the flag, there was Carl’s ball – he had hit a hole in one.

This story has nothing to do with anything other than when someone’s name comes up at their passing the memories we have of our interaction with them come flashing back immediately – good and bad.

I can’t think of anyone that had a bad memory of Carl, and his kindness and talent shine and always will long after his passing.

MUCH love and respect to a wonderful professional but even better human being.

THANK YOU Carl for sharing your talent and soul with us all.

I was at that garden show, was there for Sam but the opener blew me away. I was 19 years old and decided I wanted to work in comedy somehow. A couple of years later I made my way to LA and land at the door of the Improv. I was new and green and had only been a doorman there for a couple of weeks and in walks Carl, it was like Elvis walked in as far as I was concerned. It was such a privilege to watch him work. I eventually introduced myself and told him about MSG, I was green, he was so kind and from that day on he always remembered my name. A true stand up guy

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The Mostly True Adventures Of Standup Comedy's Legendary Frat House

One grand old house overlooking the Sunset Strip played host to a generation of comics — including Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, and Robin Williams — launching dozens of careers and about as many drug problems. The crash pad of a comedy revolution, remembered, kinda, by the people who survived it.

David Peisner

BuzzFeed Contributor

The house juts its chest out of the Hollywood Hills, flexing more bravado than actual confidence, looking a little unsteady as if one more misstep, one more bad night, could send it tumbling onto Sunset Boulevard. Sure, it’s got flair — the Spanish tile roof, the massive double balconies lording over West Hollywood — but, really, this house is peacocking, begging you to pay attention to it.

Stand on one of those back balconies, look down on the Comedy Store, the Sunset Strip, the Los Angeles Basin, and, on a clear day, maybe even out to the Pacific, and you’ll succumb to the illusion that this town is just out there waiting for you, that it wants you, even needs you. But this house was built on the hopes and dreams of the people who forgot that. It nurtured them — with shelter, camaraderie, laughs, sex, drugs — until it didn’t.

Stand-up comedy has been born and died a thousand times within a few hundred yards of 8420 Cresthill Road. Some of these deaths have been literal: In 1979, Steve Lubetkin, a struggling stand-up, dove off the roof of the Continental Hyatt House hotel and landed in the Comedy Store parking lot. Three years later, John Belushi died in Bungalow 3 of the Chateau Marmont, just up the road, after capping off a night of partying with a toxic speedball. Many more births and deaths have been figurative, onstage at the Store: Comics like David Letterman , Jay Leno , Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Jim Carrey , Roseanne Barr, and Marc Maron found their voices here; many more, whose names have been mostly lost to history, shouted into the darkness of the Original Room and heard no reply.

carl labove ghost story

In 1976, when Mitzi Shore, the Comedy Store’s owner and enigmatic doyen (and mother of Pauly), bought the club, Cresthill, as it came to be known, was rolled into the deal. From the front, the house looks kind of small, almost humble. The two largest bedrooms are on the street level, and it isn’t until you descend the staircase and walk toward the back of the house that the three-story, nearly 5,000-square-foot abode begins to reveal itself. The space widens and draws you toward its oddly placed alcoves, its nooks and crannies, toward those sweeping balconies, toward its secrets. Built in the 1920s, the place has a shadowy history dating to the days when the mob and the Rat Pack prowled the Strip. At the time when Mitzi bought it, the house — which sits on a cul-de-sac of pretty, older homes elbowing each other for space — was vacant, and at first, Mitzi did little with it. Then, around the time of Lubetkin’s suicide, she essentially gave the place over to the comedians who worked at the Store.

For about a decade, comics inhabited Cresthill. Inhabit is the best way to put it, really: Some had their own rooms, some of those actually paid some token rent, but many, many more were just kind of there — to hang out, to drink, to do drugs, to talk shit, to crash on a couch, or a floor, wherever. There were three bedrooms, maybe four, depending on what you’d call a bedroom, but that had little relation to how many people might be sleeping there at any given moment. No one can remember ever signing a lease.

{ "id": 7161845 } "COMICS WERE ALL OF A SUDDEN GETTING RESPECT, SO WE COULD GET AWAY WITH MURDER. AND WE DID."

The catalog of names is impressive: Dice, Kinison, Carrey, Maron, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Yakov Smirnoff, and Bill Hicks all either lived there or hung out there between 1979 and 1989. Some — like Dice and Kinison — were around for more of those years than they weren’t. Allan Stephan, a comic who was part of Kinison’s “Outlaws of Comedy” crew and later the showrunner for Roseanne , never lived in Cresthill but spent countless hours there in the late ’70s and early ’80s. “Comics were all of a sudden getting respect, so we could get away with murder," Stephan says. "And we did.” Mitzi saw the Store as a place for comics to work out and improve, essentially comedy college. “Cresthill,” Stephan says, “was the frat house.”

The place is more than an interesting footnote in comedy history: Cresthill’s glory years coincided with a massive stand-up boom across the country. In the mid-’70s, you could count the number of comedy clubs nationwide on one hand; by the late ’80s, there were hundreds. This group of comics, haunting Cresthill, working the Store, helped to create the stand-up business as we know it. In that house, these comics forged a style and, more important, a bold, anarchic attitude that still pervades comedy today. But this came at a cost: Maron, who showed up around 1987 and lasted eight months living in a small room Dice had recently vacated, described his time there to me as a “big, dark baptism.”

Unsurprisingly, specifics can be a bit murky when it comes to piecing together Cresthill's history. Want to know how long Bill Hicks crashed there or whether Eric Clapton really jammed up there one night? Ask five comics and you’ll likely get five different answers. It’s not that people are lying — though, sure, some may be — so much as time and the fog of booze and drugs tends to obscure some details. Still, that haze — a hybrid of truths, best guesses, misremembered recollections, and outright tall tales — adds up to a stew of memory and myth that’s no less real than a notarized legal document.

carl labove ghost story

In the early ’70s, what little stand-up business there was revolved around two cities: Las Vegas and New York. But in April 1972, an old-school comic named Sammy Shore opened the Comedy Store in a 99-seat room in a building on Sunset Boulevard that had once housed the venerable Hollywood nightclub Ciro’s. In May, Johnny Carson decided to move The Tonight Show from New York to Burbank, California.

In its early days, the Comedy Store was more a clubhouse for Sammy and fellow comics like Shecky Greene and Jackie Vernon. But The Tonight Show ’s move west brought in a newer generation — Robert Klein, George Carlin, David Brenner. When, in 1973, a set at the Store by young then-unknown Freddie Prinze won him a spot on The Tonight Show , it was a signal of comedy’s tectonic shift from New York to L.A. — and of the beginning of the Store’s rise.

The Store earned cachet on Sammy’s watch, but he was a comic with little interest in running a business. There were no set schedules; he and his friends got stage time whenever they wanted. He was frequently on the road, and when he was, his wife Mitzi took over. She wrote out a lineup every night. She instituted an open-mic night for amateurs looking to take their shot. She rebuilt the room to focus everyone’s attention on the stage, took out the bar, and made customers order drinks from the waitresses, establishing the two-drink minimum that became de rigeur in clubs nationwide. Essentially, she invented the modern comedy club.

carl labove ghost story

Mitzi Shore

When she and Sammy divorced in 1974, he gave her the club to lower his alimony payments; two years later, after being briefly evicted (and opening a new Comedy Store location in Westwood), she negotiated a deal to buy the entire building — plus Cresthill. In her words, Mitzi grew up as, “the only Jew in Green Bay,” Wisconsin. Nobody who knows her, it seems, can talk about her without lapsing into an impression of her thin, perpetually unimpressed, nasally whine of a voice. (Shore, 85, has Parkinson’s disease and other neurological issues and was unavailable to be interviewed.) Somehow, running the Comedy Store suited Mitzi’s oddball personality.

The club became ground zero for stand-up in the late ’70s: Leno, Letterman, Pryor, Williams, Michael Keaton, Jimmie Walker, Richard Lewis, Richard Belzer, Elayne Boosler, Paul Mooney, Garry Shandling, and Marsha Warfield all considered the place something of a home base, and others like Carlin, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, and Gabe Kaplan were consistent visitors. Hollywood talent scouts lurked: The prizes weren’t only shots on Carson; networks were signing comics to develop sitcoms.

Mitzi saw herself as the scene’s munificent den mother. She made calls on behalf of comedians she thought deserved a look. She loaned them money. She took some on vacations with her. One person I spoke to who worked at the Store during this era tells me he was ferrying $20,000 in cash back to her house to put in her safe every night.

carl labove ghost story

Robin Williams outside the Comedy Store, 1978.

But if there’s one truism about Hollywood, it’s that behind every big success are dozens of people feeling aggrieved about it. Which isn’t to say that the comics who went on strike at the Store in 1979 didn’t have a legitimate gripe. Mitzi was making money by the satchel, and the regulars who performed at the Store weren’t getting paid. She considered the club a “showcase” room, an opportunity for comics to develop their acts and get discovered. That’s the way it worked. This wasn’t totally self-serving: Prinze got Chico and the Man . Walker got Good Times . Williams got Mork and Mindy . But it was a little self-serving: Paying customers would hardly be lining the sidewalks waiting to get in without comics onstage.

Nobody, least of all Mitzi, figured the rabble of comedians could organize a real work stoppage, but for about six weeks in the spring of 1979, they did. Guys like Letterman and Leno, already flush with their first successes, picketed alongside their less well-known colleagues. Mitzi felt betrayed. A handful of comics crossed the picket lines, simultaneously earning her enduring affection and the barbed scorn of their fellow comics.

The strike would be settled by June. Mitzi caved — a little — setting up a payment scheme so performers would get 50% of the door in the Main Room or $25 a set in the smaller Original Room. Some bad vibes certainly endured, but for most of the comics, there seemed to be palpable relief that the strike was over. The change in payment policy, however, was not the only by-product of the conflict.

carl labove ghost story

A long time ago , Argus Hamilton was the future of stand-up comedy. Some — including Hamilton himself — thought the former University of Oklahoma frat boy was going to be the next Carson, and he appeared on The Tonight Show more than 20 times before his career was derailed in the ’80s by a crippling fondness for cocaine and booze.

Hamilton was the first comic to move into Cresthill in the summer of 1979, along with a young comedian from Detroit named Mike Binder, whom everyone called “Kid Comedy,” and John Medley, an actor and bartender Hamilton knew from Oklahoma. Hamilton lived there until 1982 and then returned for a few months in 1986. Much of the time he wasn’t at Cresthill he was either in rehab or staying with Mitzi, who was his on-again, off-again girlfriend for many years and with whom he’s still close. He’s seen among the former Cresthill gang as the unofficial keeper of the flame. In interview after interview, whenever the thread of a story got lost, I was advised to “ask Argus.”

carl labove ghost story

Argus Hamilton

I meet him on a Sunday afternoon in the parking lot behind the Comedy Store, where Hamilton, who has been sober for 29 years, still performs regularly. We’d planned to talk inside the club, but after banging on the doors and getting no reply, we cross the parking lot and sit in the lobby of the Andaz West Hollywood, the hotel formerly known as the infamous Hyatt House. Cresthill, says Hamilton, wasn’t a reaction to Lubetkin’s suicide; it was a physical manifestation of the “postwar relief” that Mitzi and Store regulars felt after the strike. Mitzi wanted to do something to help the comics, particularly those like Hamilton and Binder, who’d crossed the picket lines. “She suggested that a few comics could live up there but she didn’t want it to turn into a flophouse,” Hamilton tells me.

The comedy landscape was changing then. “All these comedy clubs are popping up all over the country,” says Hamilton. "They’re paying Comedy Store guys $5,000 a week to go to Atlanta, to Houston. When rent is $200 a month, the phone bill is $15 a month, gas is 78 cents a gallon, and you make over $100,000 a year, you’ve got a lot of disposable income.” Much of which started going up people’s noses.

Binder, who later became best known as a writer/director/actor of films like The Upside of Anger and HBO's The Mind of the Married Man , says that while he lived there, the house and the Store felt like the center of the entertainment universe. “Robin had Mork and Mindy , Letterman started [guest-]hosting the Tonight Show , Michael Keaton and David were on Mary Tyler Moore’s variety show, Jimmie Walker had a series, I got this Norman Lear show called Apple Pie ,” he says. “ People magazine did a story, What’s Going on at the Comedy Store? So people started to come down. After we’d shut the club down, we’d be hanging with Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds, Ringo Starr, Sugar Ray Leonard and partying. We couldn’t believe it. A lot of it took place after-hours in the Main Room, but most of the time, we’d shift it all up to Cresthill.”

Future Full House star Dave Coulier moved in for a few months in late 1979 or early 1980, and also recalls a somewhat mysterious housemate named Jack Leonpacher, who worked as a runner for Mitzi. “Jack stole all my clothes while I was on the road one week,” says Coulier. “He denied it and then showed up at the Westwood Comedy Store one night wearing one of my shirts.”

carl labove ghost story

Yakov Smirnoff, circa 1985.

The next arrival at Cresthill was Russian comic Yakov Smirnoff. In the ’80s, at the height of Cold War paranoia, Smirnoff’s aw-shucks, “America, what a country!” shtick reassured a nation that its Reaganite vision of itself was righteous — and deflated the mighty Evil Empire of the Soviets into a laughable facade. He had his own TV show ( What a Country ), starred in films ( Moscow on the Hudson, Brewster’s Millions, Heartburn ) and was one of the country’s biggest stand-ups. But when he first showed up at the Store, he was just an émigré from the Ukraine with a shaky command of English. Mitzi liked him though and offered him spots onstage, work as a handyman, and a tiny room upstairs at Cresthill.

“Yakov was a master carpenter and plumber,” says Jimmie Walker, who didn’t really hang out at Cresthill but knew about it from performing at the Store. “Yakov fixed a lot of shit around the house. He did all the building around there.”

A few weeks after Smirnoff’s arrival, the house got another new initiate, a brash Brooklynite who performed as Andrew Clay. Smirnoff had met him already — they’d each done their first paid gig the same night at Rodney Dangerfield’s club in New York.

“He scared the shit out of me in Dangerfield’s,” Smirnoff tells me. “His persona was so big. Shortly after, I went to L.A. thinking I’ll never see him again. I was fine with that. Then, all of a sudden, I opened the door” — and with this Smirnoff slips into a pretty solid Dice impression, albeit still with traces of his Russian accent — “My man! Come ’ere! Gimme a hug! I’m gonna be yer roommate!”

carl labove ghost story

Andrew Dice Clay, 1989.

Dice moved into the maid’s quarters, a small room off the kitchen with fire-engine red walls, red carpet, red furniture, and a window with bars on it that he once got a blow job through. Also crashing at Cresthill — though likely not paying rent — was Ollie Joe Prater, a 300-plus-pound, bearded Midwesterner whom Dice describes in his memoir, The Filthy Truth, as both “a party animal” and one of the “great comics you never heard of.”

At the time, despite his larger-than-life attitude, Dice onstage wasn’t quite yet Dice . He mostly did impressions of guys like John Travolta, Sylvester Stallone, and Elvis. “We all thought he was an idiot,” says Binder. “I mean, he was a sweet guy but he was just kind of a big doofus. We thought his act was like a fuckin’ circus act. Dice was just one of the characters he did.”

The house’s gravitational center and late-night gathering spot of choice was the massive oak table in the dining room. Two different comics compared it to the famed Algonquin Round Table, albeit with slightly more emphasis on strippers, drugs, and dick jokes. “We’d snort, smoke pot, drink beer, and talk comedy,” says Hamilton. “It was early enough in our disease where we shared our coke. Dice never drank or did drugs but loved to stay up and talk.”

carl labove ghost story

Richard Pryor at the Comedy Store's 11th anniversary in 1983

One comic told me about a night, hanging out at the table, listening to Richard Pryor and Robin Williams trade stories and jabs. Stephan says that even though Pryor was already a huge star, he wasn’t above getting feedback and ideas from lowly Store comics. “He’d sit there and go, ‘What do you got for me?’” says Stephan. “We helped him with his specials. He had his clique but when blow was involved, he’d be around.”

Smirnoff wasn’t a partier. He’d go onstage early at the Store, then come home and go to bed. “Every morning, I’d get up early and they’d just finished partying,” he says. “And every morning there would be a mirror on the table. I didn’t know why. Why would somebody take the mirror off the wall and eat powdered doughnuts off the mirror? What a crazy American tradition! It was like a secret I wasn’t privy to because I didn’t stay up late.”

{ "id": 7162049 } "WHY WOULD SOMEBODY TAKE THE MIRROR OFF THE WALL AND EAT DOUGHNUTS OFF THE MIRROR? WHAT A CRAZY AMERICAN TRADITION!"

Williams was already a star but would frequently turn up to do impromptu sets, then hit Cresthill afterward. “When we were there, Robin was there, partying a lot,” Binder recalls. “He’d really light it up. When he’d say, ‘I’m coming up to party tonight,’ he’d get even more girls and more people. Celebrities would come.”

Lue Deck, who — like many Store comics — also worked as a doorman at the club, had moved into a space in the basement of Cresthill by this time, and recalls that Williams, Andy Kaufman, and Rod Stewart used to come by the house to score coke. Simply being around stars helped younger guys like Smirnoff, who got a big break when Williams convinced director Paul Mazursky to come see him perform, leading to the part in Moscow on the Hudson .

“When you’re in proximity to the Store, in proximity to other comedians, right at the center of it, you can’t help but get better,” says Smirnoff. “If there was a casting call, you knew before anybody. You were next to whoever is doing something important. It’s the power of proximity.”

carl labove ghost story

In 1979, Hamilton, Prater and another Store comic named Jim Varney — indelible to those who lived through the ’80s as the yokel Ernest “Know what I mean, Vern?” Worrell in a gaggle of dopey films and commercials — took a road trip to Houston to compete in a comedy competition.

“We’re backstage at this party afterwards and there’s a Houston real estate agent with this softball-sized rock of pure cocaine,” Hamilton says. “I’m sitting there looking at this massive rock and on the other side is this other face looking at it the same way. That’s Sam Kinison. First time we ever met.” Hamilton spent six days blowing it out in Houston with Kinison and a crew of other comics that included a young Bill Hicks. “Bill was very unhappy because his father didn’t want him to do stand-up. Somehow we worked it out — he was going to run away from home.”

Before returning to L.A., Hamilton told his new friends to find him at the Comedy Store if they ever made it out that way. Over the next year or so, a gaggle of Houston comics moved West: Kinison, Hicks, Dan Barton, Jimmy Pineapple, Carl LaBove, Riley Barber, Steve Epstein. Hicks, who’d evolve into a biting, sociopolitical monologist in the Lenny Bruce mold before dying of pancreatic cancer in 1994, was 18 at the time. Hamilton says he got Hicks a job as a doorman at the Store and agreed to “stash him in Cresthill. He hid from his parents. They didn’t know where he was.”

Binder’s drinking and drugging was already so bad that he decided to move out. He and Coulier got an apartment together. “When I left, Bill took my bedroom,” Binder says. Hicks, a relative teetotaler, never really became part of Cresthill’s hedonistic culture and soon found his own apartment.

Kinison, however, would come to define that culture. He was already an outsize personality when he arrived in L.A., but his act was a work in progress. He’d only recently given up his previous life as an evangelical preacher and brought that same stage presence to stand-up, although he didn’t always know what to do with it. But Mitzi hired him as a doorman and gave him keys to the Westwood location, where he frequently slept. He also began spending time at Cresthill, where he bonded with another charismatic character still honing his comedic chops: Dice.

As Dice put it in his book , “When we were still struggling comics, Sam and I had our own little two-man support group. Many were the nights when we’d go to Ralph’s grocery store, steal a bunch of pork chops, and head back to Cresthill, where we’d cook ‘em on the grill. After dinner we’d do routines for each other. We wouldn’t mince words. When I thought he should push it further, I said so. And the same for Sam.”

carl labove ghost story

Sam Kinison at 1988 MTV New Year's Eve Party in Los Angeles.

According to Dice, one night at Cresthill he demonstrated for Kinison how to build slowly to his trademark scream . “I helped Sam get his timing down,” he has said. “Kinison had a great opening line but didn’t know how to set it up. I showed him … I said, ‘You gotta put more theater into it … suck the audience in before you blow your stack’ … It was a killer opening that Sam used for most of his career.” In Dice’s telling, the night ended with both of them practicing Kinison’s scream back and forth over the kitchen table, waking Smirnoff in process.

Smirnoff recalls the events differently. He says Dice and Kinison were staging a fake fight that everyone at Cresthill thought was so funny that Smirnoff suggested Kinison try it onstage. “So we all walked down to the Comedy Store. It’s 1 in the morning and there’s a few people there, and he’s just in their face screaming, red in the face. The crowd is cracking up. That was a key turning point in his career.”

It’s worth noting that Kinison’s brother and then-manager, Bill, calls Dice’s claims “bullshit,” but regardless of the discrepancies over exactly what kind of impact Dice might’ve had on Kinison — and vice versa — Cresthill had become a kind of comedy laboratory. Bits were born from late-night bullshit sessions, jokes were tested and honed, and brutally honest criticism was the norm.

“You couldn’t have the ego and sensitivity,” says Stephan. “I remember at the time, I was very funny when I wasn’t onstage. I was sitting on the couch, holding court, and Argus went, ‘If you can do what you’re doing now onstage, nothing will stop you.’ It took me about three years to learn this lesson.”

But the drugs were starting to exact a toll. Binder had already bottomed out, and Hamilton seemed on track for an even uglier fate. Mitzi was worried about him. Dan Frischman, a comic who moved in around 1981 and later starred in Head of the Class , recalls, “She’d sometimes call me and ask if any nefarious looking people showed up, possibly to sell Argus drugs.”

carl labove ghost story

Dan Frischman in his room at Cresthill

Jackson Perdue, a young comic from Southern California, had taken to staying in Hamilton’s room when Hamilton was staying with Mitzi — which was 9 out of 10 nights on average, according to Perdue — and had been put in charge of babysitting two of Mitzi’s kids, Pauly and Peter, whom he’d occasionally bring to the house. “Wherever they wanted to go, whatever they wanted to do, my job was to take them there,” he says. “I was the one who named Pauly ‘The Weasel.’ He was 11. And he was a little fucking weasel.”

The house’s roster was shuffling. Prater was on the outs with Mitzi and got booted. In came Frischman, and later, Jimmy Pineapple, a New Yorker named Andy Lederer, and Mark King, a sketch performer. In 1982, Hamilton went to rehab and Tom Wilson — then a young comic, now an actor best known for playing Biff in the Back to the Future films — moved into Hamilton’s old bedroom.

“Before talk show appearances, Yakov would have me act as Carson or Merv Griffin so he could practice his panel banter,” Wilson says. “I also helped Yakov carry an eight-foot-tall painting of himself into the entryway and hang it over the main staircase.”

Frischman says Dice “was a good housemate, but he’d get angry because most of the comics wouldn’t wash their dishes. They’d leave the kitchen a mess. When he’d bring women home, he’d have to go through the kitchen. One morning, he starts screaming, ‘The dishes go out the window in five minutes!’ Right outside the kitchen was an open-air atrium, and sure enough, all of a sudden, you hear crashing. He threw all the plates and pans out the window!”

carl labove ghost story

Considering all the insanity in the house, its residents had surprisingly little trouble from the neighbors. The houses weren’t far apart, but because of the steep slope and the way Cresthill was built into it, much of the noise wafted down toward the Store, the Strip, and the city at large. For a while, the supermodel Twiggy lived across the street and would occasionally accept comics’ invitations to show up to the Store. Wilson recalls meeting a very old man who lived farther up the hill and relayed Cresthill’s pre–Comedy Store history.

“Even in the ’40s and ’50s, the house was full of gambling and debauchery,” Wilson says the man told him. “The house was owned by Ciro’s, and Ciro’s paid him to let a guy sit at his house and watch Sunset Boulevard and Queens Road for cops. If a raid was coming, he’d call Cresthill and the poker game would vanish.”

carl labove ghost story

This is one point where the facts get slippery. Several comics I interviewed passed on stories of Cresthill’s early days. Pineapple tells me he got a huge kick out of the fact that guys like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Jerry Lewis used to party there during the Ciro’s era. Other rumors had it that Milton Berle and Redd Foxx were frequent guests. One comic told me the place had been a mob house, where “the mob took people and gave them a little bit of an education.” Supposedly, there was even a secret tunnel connecting the basement with the Comedy Store’s basement.

Few people from the ’40s and ’50s are still around, but George Schlatter, the general manager of Ciro’s from 1950 to 1957, had no memory of the house whatsoever. Neither did Sheila Weller, who wrote a memoir about her time as a child growing up around the club, which was owned by her uncle Herman Hover from 1942 to 1957. The few surviving performers from that era I was able to track down — Kim Novak, Rose Marie, Jerry Lewis, Debbie Reynolds — either didn’t recall the house or chose not to comment. But Ciro’s was a prime Hollywood hangout back then — Sinatra was famously arrested for punching a reporter there — so it doesn’t seem like a stretch that these same stars could’ve shifted the festivities to the owner’s house after-hours.

Frank Sennes, who revived the club in 1960, had previously been the entertainment director for several Las Vegas casinos and was well-acquainted with many of the Hollywood stars who frequented Ciro’s. He was also friendly with well-known gangster Moe Dalitz . The notorious L.A. mob figure Mickey Cohen was shot in front of Ciro’s in 1949, hung out at the club through the 1950s, and supposedly used its basement for all sorts of nefarious deeds. But it seems far-fetched that this could’ve ever been connected to Cresthill.

When I visit the house and head down to the basement, lo and behold, there’s a prominent trapdoor in the hardwood floor. Pulling it open, a wooden stepladder descends into a dark, dank cellar. Could this actually be the remnants of an old tunnel? I poke my head down but can’t see a thing. A few weeks later, I coax a local real estate agent to go down the ladder with a flashlight. He reports back no evidence of a tunnel, just a dirty crawl space filled with cobwebs. But is it possible there was once one there? “It’s unlikely,” he tells me, “but who knows?”

The truth behind these tales wasn’t the point for those who later lived in Cresthill. They felt true — and enhanced the house’s mystique. As Carl LaBove, who moved in there in 1984, put it, “There was a feeling there that it had always been that kind of house. You didn’t feel like you were doing something new. That’s what it was built for.”

carl labove ghost story

It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when Cresthill really became Sam Kinison’s fiefdom. Even before his career took flight in the mid-’80s, Kinison’s charisma drew people to him, but LaBove was Kinison’s best friend. They’d moved to L.A. together and actively stoked a kind of mystical aura around themselves and whatever comics were in Kinison’s inner circle at a given moment. Rumors swirled that the two always carried guns. Mitzi had a rule that the house was for single comics — no girlfriends or wives allowed — but once LaBove moved in, his fiancé, Christy, and Kinison both surreptitiously followed.

Not everyone was thrilled with this arrangement. Wilson and, in particular, Dice, quickly grew weary of the drug-fueled, late-night, rock ’n’ roll circus–soap opera that trailed Kinison wherever he went. “Sam was someone whose natural state was chaos,” says Dan Barton, one of the Houston comics. “Dice was more orderly.”

By 1985, Kinison’s career was in the ascendency — his breakout performance on HBO’s Young Comedians Special had led to Carson and Letterman bookings, theater tours, and eventually a spot hosting Saturday Night Live the following year — but the rest of his life was a mess. His daily routine was to stay up all night, then sneak into LaBove’s room during the day to crash. (This unusual arrangement was even more unusual than it sounds: The year after Kinison’s death in 1992, LaBove discovered his and Christy’s daughter had actually been fathered by Kinison.)

After LaBove and Christy got married in 1985, they celebrated at Cresthill. “We had one of those blowouts that went to the following day,” says LaBove. “Everybody came: C.C. DeVille from Poison, Tommy Lee, all these guys. Dice wasn’t into drugs. Dice wanted to sleep. He just got tired of it. He got tired of the fact that we kind of controlled the house.”

Shortly after, LaBove got word that Mitzi wanted to see him. She’d heard Christy and Kinison were living in his room. All three would have to move out. Today. LaBove knew immediately who’d told her. “I was walking back up the hill. I’d made up my mind that I was going to kill Dice.”

While storming back toward Cresthill, he ran into Kinison, who talked him down. He had his own plan to get even. “Sam went to Dice and said, ‘I want you to know that we know it was you, and if I make it, I’m going to make sure I stick it up your ass every opportunity I get,’” he says. “This is the story that started the whole argument between Sam and Dice.”

Dice declined repeated entreaties to tell his side of it. But Jimmy Shubert, a comic who was tight with both Kinison and Dice, told me a version that mostly squares with LaBove’s. “Dice ratted Sam out,” says Shubert.

It can be hard to remember exactly how huge Dice and Kinison became in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and how much their feud defined stand-up during those years. Kinison broke first, scoring a memorable part in Rodney Dangerfield’s hit 1986 film, Back to School, making music videos and palling around with a debauched troupe of rock stars, porn stars, actors, comics, and whoever you'd consider Jessica Hahn to be. Dice became even bigger, appearing as a version of himself in a series of films ( Making the Grade, Casual Sex?, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane ) and selling out arenas. Their respective acts — heavy on testosterone-fueled bravado and ample doses of homophobia and misogyny — engendered controversy wherever they went.

Their bad blood spilled publicly. They’d badmouth each other on talk shows. Kinison would devote stage time to running Dice down. The adult film star Ron Jeremy was part of Kinison’s crew of misfits around this time and had known Dice from back in New York. “Right in the midst of their animosity, Sam comes up to me and says, ‘I just found out Dice is Jewish,’" says Jeremy. “‘I’m not going to call him Dice any longer. I’m going to call him Dreidel.’ So Sam called him Dreidel, and Dice told him to go fuck himself.”

carl labove ghost story

Billy Idol and Kinison.

In his book, Dice writes, “Sam was fixated on telling the world that I wasn’t shit. He went on [Howard] Stern and couldn’t stop ripping me. He started calling me Andrew Jew Silverstein, like I ever hid the fact that I was Jewish. He told a couple of audiences that he was hoping I died of inside-out stomach cancer.”

But the rivalry was somewhat one-sided. “Sam had a jealousy,” says Stephan. “He was a very insecure man with a lot of problems. He liked to fight and stir shit. He was a bully.”

Even Kinison’s brother Bill wanted to quash it. “I told him one time, ‘Why don’t you just shut up about Dice? You’re making the guy bigger.’” Bill tried to arrange for the rivals to tour together years later, but it only led to more animosity, and the two former friends were still estranged when Kinison was killed by a drunk driver on a highway outside Las Vegas in 1992.

LaBove, however, made amends with Dice years ago and now sees the whole episode differently. “Dice had every right in the world to complain,” he says. “Who can sleep when you’ve got a party going on downstairs every single night and it’s your house, too?”

Ironically, shortly after Kinison and LaBove were tossed from Cresthill, Dice moved out, and it wasn’t long before Kinison had worked himself back into Mitzi’s good graces and was again lording over the place. Kinison’s newfound stature attracted guys like Billy Idol, Ted Nugent, and Corey Feldman to the nightly ragers. Others, including Eric Clapton — whom Bill Kinison describes as Sam’s “best friend”— made appearances as well. A comic named Brian Seff, who performed as Rick Right, remembers seeing the famed guitarist jamming with Kinison and others at the house. “The cops came to complain about the noise and they didn’t recognize Clapton but recognized Sam,” says Seff.

As Feldman recalled in his memoir , “On any given night you might find as many as 10 or 12 comedians at Cresthill, crowded around the massive oak table, in the center of which was a mountain of cocaine. This was my introduction to the bacchanalian nature of Hollywood nightlife — half-naked women draped over fat, out-of-shape funnymen, booze and drugs flowing freely.”

carl labove ghost story

Jim Carrey and Mitzi Shore at her home.

And then there was Jim Carrey — another Kinison buddy who floated in and out of Cresthill but was never part of its debauched core. Back then, Carrey was an offbeat impressionist who’d already scored a Tonight Show spot and a short-lived network series, but his career was stalled. “Jim’s up partying with Sam and Carl, just being himself, being hilarious,” recalls Hamilton, who’d recently moved back into Cresthill at this time. “He’s at the table, complaining about his act he’s stuck in, and Sam says, ‘Well, drop that fucking act and be yourself. No matter how long it takes, you drop it right now.’ Jim goes to Mitzi and says, ‘I’m going to break out and be myself.’" He also met Damon Wayans around then, another late-night Store regular who would later recommend Carrey for his breakout gig on In Living Color .

Carrey is currently circling back near this time in his life for his latest project: executive-producing a Showtime original series based on William Knoedelseder’s history of the early L.A. comedy scene, I’m Dying Up Here , starring Melissa Leo as a Mitzi-like matriarch. The pilot is being shot this fall.

carl labove ghost story

“I walked into a lot of ongoing stories,” Marc Maron tells me from his home — itself now a prestigious destination for comics — in Highland Park, California. Maron moved into Cresthill in 1987, dragging with him little more than a futon, a framed poster of the Tod Browning film Freaks , and a burgeoning cocaine habit. He fit right in.

Maron was working as a doorman, and his housemates included Shubert; another doorman named Todd Lemisch; Tamayo Otsuki, a Japanese comic who’d dated Kinison for a while; and a diminutive New Yorker named Nancy Redman. But it was still Kinison’s house.

carl labove ghost story

Sam Kinison, Marc Maron, and an unidentified comic crouching over the table for no particular reason at all, 1987.

“There was a night early on when I went one-on-one with Sam, doing blow and burning money,” Maron says. “I was being initiated into what would turn out to be the most disturbing and mentally destructive eight months of my life.” When the coke ran out, he drove Kinison to a dealer’s apartment, where Kinison downed several airplane bottles of Smirnoff before passing out. The dealer insisted Maron drag Kinison home. “He’s like, ‘I don’t want him to pull a Belushi on me.’ I get Sam in my car and bring him back to Cresthill, where he just lays face down on the living room floor and sleeps. He did that a lot.”

Maron quickly became, as he puts it, “the guy who hosted the parties Sam wanted to have. Monday nights, everyone would come from all over the dark crevices of Hollywood to see Sam.” These soirees sometimes lasted days. For Redman, one of the few women who ever lived at Cresthill, this sort of behavior quickly grew tedious.

carl labove ghost story

Jennifer Essex, Brian Seff, and Maron

“I didn’t do drugs,” she says. “I did decaf. When the parties were going on, I generally stayed in my room because I was trying to get to sleep.” Redman stopped short of calling Cresthill a boys club, but Sabrina Souiri, who worked for Kinison in the late ’80s and was later married to Stephan, describes it very much in those terms.

“It just seemed like a big frat house with a bunch of morons,” Souiri says. “I walked in one time and saw a bunch of comics doing blow and acting like idiots. It wasn’t a place I yearned to spend time.”

At this point, the house itself was starting to resemble its inhabitants: kind of haggard. Although Mitzi occasionally put money into it, collectively the comics took Cresthill for granted.

Alan Bursky, a longtime Store fixture who spent much time at Cresthill in the mid-’80s, recalls “the house being destroyed.” “The fireplace was gas and that pipe with the pilot-light flame was sticking straight out,” he says. “The oven looked like it’d been in a car accident. Guys were living in every nook and cranny. You went into the basement, in the corner, someone had a mattress or sleeping bag.”

It was like the place was straining to live up to its legend. Each new wave of comics was passing down the war stories — and attempting to outdo them. Mitzi generally kept her distance, but she was aware of the house’s reputation. For some time, she’d been trying to cash in on it by producing a sitcom about Cresthill. Barton was one of many who took a pass at writing a script in return for paying spots at the Store. Around 1987, a 12-minute pilot was actually shot — in Cresthill — that starred, among others, Otsuki and Redman.

carl labove ghost story

Daphne Davis, Nancy Redman, and Tamayo Otsuki shooting the Cresthill pilot.

Having managed to track down a copy, I can say without qualification that it’s pretty awful — and fails to capture the spirit of the place, the same kind of spirit that had been luring the talented, the desperate, and the slightly unhinged to California for decades. Even listening to comics talk about Cresthill 30 years later, I can hear them grasping to squeeze that magic between their fingers.

“That balcony was where dreams were made,” LaBove tells me. “I’d leave during the day, work as a doorman all night, do my spots, then come back and have a big party. We’d talk comedy until 4 in the morning on that balcony and look at the stars of the city. It was just a phenomenal way to celebrate your starving, celebrate what you’d given up for your dream.”

{ "id": 7162403 } "IT WAS JUST A PHENOMENAL WAY TO CELEBRATE YOUR STARVING."

As Shubert puts it, “You only go through that once in your life. You only struggle like that once, when you give up everything to commit to your craft. You’re in this house, around all these great comedians, just immersing yourself in it.”

But for Maron, the dream was beginning to curdle. “I was sleep-deprived and starting to lose my mind,” he says. “I started to hear voices in my head, to see the Store as this vast, weird part of some dark, mystical conspiracy.” Kinison was out of control, frequently rampaging through Cresthill and the Store in a cocaine-fueled frenzy. He was prone to violent outbursts against pretty much anyone unfortunate enough to be standing nearby. At one party, Kinison smacked around the Store’s booker then kissed him on the mouth. At another, a girl passed out on a bed and Kinison pissed on her. “It was fucked-up shit,” says Maron.

One evening, Kinison put his guitar and amps into Maron’s room for safekeeping. A little later, a guy named Dave, who was known as a Satan-worshipping heroin addict, got into an argument with Kinison. Kinison threw a drink in his face, hit him a few times, and ripped Dave’s shirt off. Shubert recalls Dave being dangled off the back balcony by his ankles. Despite the obvious bad vibes, Dave refused to leave. Maron tried to manage the situation and told him to go hang out in his room and lock the door.

After that, Maron himself left to go pick up his friend Bill at the airport and didn’t return until the following morning. “I walk in with Bill, who I’ve told all about this amazing place and the time I’m having with Sam and everybody,” he says. “I go to my room and see the door’s been kicked off the hinges. The guitars are gone.” At the dining room table, still at it from the night before, are Kinison, LaBove, and one or two others. “Sam goes, ‘I pissed on your bed, Maron. Wanna know why? Because you let that moron sleep with my guitars.’ I turned to my friend Bill and said, ‘I told you I knew him.’”

The incident marked the end for Maron. “By that point, I was sleeping in my closet anyway,” he says. “I was in mental trouble. I started realizing someone’s going to die, someone’s going to go down for real, and it could be me.” A few days later he had a breakdown in the Store parking lot. The guy he usually bought coke from suggested Maron get out of town. “If the drug dealer is telling you to leave, it’s time to leave.”

Cresthill was on a similar trajectory. Mitzi was increasingly fed up with the comics’ behavior. Drug use that could’ve once been chalked up to youthful exuberance now had the markings of full-blown addiction. It’s not totally clear what the final straw was — one comic says it was a particularly raucous party during which Kinison led revelers in tossing expensive pieces of furniture off the back deck — but by 1988, Mitzi decided enough was enough. The comics were told to get the hell out. The party was over.

carl labove ghost story

What happened next was almost more bizarre than all that had happened before it. NBC had paid Mitzi a $400,000 advance for a Comedy Store 15th-anniversary special that would feature performances by Pryor, Williams, Letterman, Smirnoff, Shandling, and others. With that money, she paid what she must have considered penance for her years of enabling various comics’ drug problems: She turned Cresthill into a halfway house for comedians trying to get sober.

Mitzi had already paid for Hamilton and others to go to short-term treatment centers, but the results weren’t always encouraging. Hamilton, who was then sober, says that in late 1987, Mitzi accompanied him to an AA meeting to see him get his one-year sobriety cake: “I told her how much the three-month halfway house experience after my 28-day stay at Betty Ford helped to fortify my own sobriety.” Mitzi teamed with an accountant, a doctor, and Hamilton himself to form a foundation for comedians in recovery.

Steve Kravitz, a comic who was tight with both Williams and Kinison but was in the throes of a debilitating heroin addiction, was one of the first to move in. “When I went back to Cresthill, it was like a dorm, twin beds, three or four to a room,” he says. “A counselor with a medical license is on duty all day, a guy stayed there at night to make sure nobody hurts themselves. There was group therapy, everything you’d have in that environment.”

Eventually, the house’s residents included a poet, writers, dancers, and other performers. Kravitz credits the place with starting his recovery, but this incarnation of Cresthill was short-lived: Kravitz stayed six months and says the halfway house lasted only a few more past that. Others, including Hamilton, recall it continuing for a couple years.

Regardless, Mitzi pulled the plug because — depending on which theory you want to believe — either they ran out of comics to treat, the house had strayed from its initial mission by letting in non-comedians, she had financial problems, or some combination of the above. By the early ’90s, Cresthill had a new occupant: Mitzi’s son, Pauly.

carl labove ghost story

I meet Pauly Shore on a warm Saturday afternoon at Cresthill. He doesn’t live here anymore — he moved out in the late ’90s and his family sold the place, but as it happens, the house’s current owner, music producer Josh Abraham, recently listed it for sale with a price tag of just less than $3 million.

We meet at an open house. We’re the only two there, save for a tall, exceedingly helpful realtor named Steve. Pauly says he was hardly ever here during the wild ’80s — he was a teenager then — but made the place his own for about seven years in the ’90s, remodeling it and redecorating.

Wearing a red L.A. Clippers T-shirt, blue sweatpants, and Adidas flip-flops, Pauly sinks into a couch in an oak-paneled room that was once his assistant’s office. “I used to go out with a porno star named Savannah that killed herself,” he says. “We got that information in this room, actually. That was heavy shit.”

carl labove ghost story

Pauly Shore, 1992.

Pauly’s time at Cresthill was, as he puts it, “the heyday of [his] career.” He was on MTV, starring in movies — it was full-on Weasel-mania. Episodes of his show Totally Pauly were filmed here. His only consistent housemate was Bobby Luddington, a friend who also worked for him, though Brett Ratner had a room for several months during the year or so before Rush Hour made him an in-demand director. There was also a constant parade of guests, the recitation of which feels like its own time warp: Andy Dick, Stephen Baldwin, Anna Nicole Smith, late Alice in Chains lead singer Layne Staley, Joey Lauren Adams, Playboy Playmates the Barbie Twins. “I think there was even a point when Robert Downey Jr. stayed in the basement for a little during his drug time,” says Pauly. (Downey Jr., through his agent, declined to be interviewed.)

Pauly is understandably nostalgic for Cresthill, and after a while he talks to Steve with some degree of seriousness about buying it back. It’s been completely redone since his time here and would be almost unrecognizable to the comics who lived here in the ’80s. Walls have been knocked down; there’s a gym in the basement; Abraham flattened the steep hill behind the house to create a grassy backyard.

But hints of Cresthill’s history, its myths, still poke through. The room off the kitchen where Dice and Maron lived retains some seedy charm. Upstairs, a huge full-length mirror leans against a bedroom wall. It can’t be the same one comics used to pull down to snort blow off, can it? Surely the grand wooden dining room table hasn’t been there this long — and that trapdoor in the basement leads nowhere other than to a damp crawl space. Or does it?

Maron says that Cresthill taught him just how far a comedian could go, onstage and off. “If you want to push the limits and the boundaries, there’s no real edge to it. There’s a freedom, but also a price to pay, in your personal life and otherwise. If you’re a searcher, you’re going to go to the dark side. You can go there if you can salvage some comedy out of it.”

The years have been hard for many Cresthill alums. The smart ones — Dice, Smirnoff, Carrey — kept their noses pretty clean from the beginning. The lucky ones — Hamilton, Maron, Binder, LaBove — got sober. Many more simply didn’t make it. Some, like Kinison, Pryor, Hicks, and Williams, died before their time. Others disappeared quietly, most of their names barely registering, even here: Prater, Sandy Baron, Adam Leslie, Fred Asparagus, Larry Beezer, Jesse Aragon, Danny Stone. Is comedy different today because of these people and this place? If Cresthill is to be feted for the careers it helped make, must it not also bear responsibility for the price it exacted?

As Pauly and Steve talk real estate, I wander out onto one of the sweeping balconies, lean against the edge, and look down toward the Sunset Strip and into L.A. It’s June and the leaves on the trees almost completely obscure the view of the Comedy Store, just a hundred or so yards down the hill. Construction cranes dot the horizon. This city will be remade over and over; Cresthill will be remodeled, again and again. What happened here — the good, the bad, the very ugly — will be forgotten and then remembered, retold as truth and fiction, until one day when the house is leveled entirely, and its stories, hopes, and dreams are ground up into a fine powder that will waft down the hill, over the Store, across the Strip, and settle over this strange, horrible, beautiful city like fairy dust.

carl labove ghost story

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Carl LaBove

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The Fair (1999)

  • Earl The Guard

Hi-Riders (1978)

  • David Freedman

Scott Baio, Kelly Preston, and Nicole Sullivan in Bar Hopping (2000)

  • Mr. Walker (as C.D. LaBove)

John Goodman, Roseanne Barr, Sara Gilbert, Michael Fishman, Alicia Goranson, and Laurie Metcalf in Roseanne (1988)

  • Audience Member (as C.D. LaBove)

Saturday Night Special (1996)

  • Various (as C.D. LaBove)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards in Seinfeld (1989)

  • Steve (as C.D. LaBove)

Night Patrol (1984)

  • Porno Prisoner
  • co-producer

Personal details

  • Carl La Bove
  • April 23 , 2021
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (prostate cancer)
  • Other works Stand-up Comic

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  • Trivia Worked with and was the best friend of comic legend Sam Kinison .
  • Trademark High-energy comedy

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Comedian LaBove finds growth after paternity nightmare

Comedian Carl LaBove will perform Saturday at The Party Room.

If comedy comes from pain, Carl LaBove has a deep well to draw from.

LaBove, one of the original "Outlaws of Comedy" and known for his longtime friendship with the late Sam Kinison, has returned to the world of stand-up comedy after spending a year in New York City working on a one-man theatrical show.

He'll perform again in Amarillo in two shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at The Party Room, 3501 S.W. 45th Ave.

Since his last performance in Amarillo, LaBove has waged an unsuccessful court battle to contest nearly $200,000 in unpaid child support for a daughter he couldn't have possibly fathered.

DNA tests in 2011 showed that Kinison, who had an affair with LaBove's ex-wife, was the girl's most likely father.

Despite believing that to be the case for years, LaBove never contested the girl's paternity and was expected to pay child support. He tried to nullify that in 2011 but found he was too late to contest the girl's paternity and was thus still responsible for the child support.

"The number will never go away, but I can create a life out of it and help a lot of people just like me," LaBove said. "It's like being cursed and the only way to fight the curse is to bring good things out of it."

Part of that was LaBove's one-man theatrical show, where he "told stories from my life and lessons learned, but I broke it up to have serious and hysterical stories ... and sang original songs."

"In stand-up, the responsibility is to pay off the joke," he said. "In a theatrical performance, the payoff could be an emotional change in your life, a spiritual growth through experiences, and it wasn't the laugh that tagged everything, it was the lesson learned."

Working on that show has more than changed his approach to stand-up. It's changed his life, he said.

"Like anything, if you speak it long enough, then you become it. I've been talking about taking responsibility for your actions, believing in your self more than anybody else - it's my mantra," he said. "Before, I used to just hope things worked out. ... From this experience, I learned to forgive myself for being a victim ... of this situation I had been in the last 15 years.

"Now, there's a depth to me that I've learned I can now project," he said. "Before, I was fighting this case, my emotional battle from having a family destroyed by treachery.

"I took it as far as I could and I didn't win, but I fought the battle ... so I did win," he said. "I changed."

Don't expect to hear much of this at the show, though.

"You want to turn a crowd off? Talk about family court," LaBove said. "I never address this situation because it's just too dramatic."

Now that he's back on the road, he's finding his stand-up act has never been better.

"I feel like a kid in a playground. I'm doing so much improv and bring up such an open mind when I approach the stage," he said. "Of course I've got routines that I can go to, but it's like playing a song and using different chords and finding a different melody in the middle of it.

"If my life has been so tough for so long and if I'm ridding myself of it, then you're coming along with me."

Remembering Carlin

The day most of the world learned of George Carlin’s death, I had a telephone conversation scheduled with Carl LaBove . If you don’t recognize the name, he was a close friend of Sam Kinison. LaBove (above) held Kinison in his arms the day the East Peoria comic died after a car crash on the way to a show in Missori in 1992.

It was probably the most somber interview I’ve ever had with a comedian, but it was great to talk to someone who had memories to share of Carlin – someone who had done more than watch his HBO specials. I asked LaBove if he’d ever met Carlin, and here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

I hung out with him in Vegas. I did my first “Tonight Show” in 1994. I had a late-night show scheduled at the MGM Grand, and it was a big to-do for me because it was my first “Tonight Show” and I advertised my Vegas appearance. And it was sold-out and it was on a very successful night. At the end of it I had all my friends in the green room and we were all hanging out laughing and celebrating what a great week it was for my career, and Carlin came walking in. … He walked up to me in front of all my friends with their jaws open, and he said, “You’re the first guy that’s ever made me blush.” And everyone heard it and it was the greatest compliment. He hung out and took pictures and signed autographs. He hung out about an hour and then he asked me into the hall. I went out into the hall and he said, “I just want to share something with you.” He had met Sam Kinison and me several times, never more than a 20-minute hang. He said, “I just wanted you to know that after Sam died, I had a dream that Kinison came to me and handed me a mantle and said, ‘George, I want you to carry this mantle.’ And in my dream, I said, ‘Proudly, Sam.’” And (Carlin) said, “I just want you to know that I had a visitation from your friend, and he’s OK, and I’m going to carry that mantle proudly.” It was a teary moment and I thanked him for it, and it gave me even more peace. The next special he had out was dedicated to Kinison.

I also asked LaBove if he is confident in the up-and-coming talent in comedy. Somebody has to fill the void left by these legends, right? His response:

Yeah, there’s plenty of talent out there. I mean, every city’s got their batch of guys now. … There’s always going to be that flow. And they’re going to do nothing but get better and better and better. Because look at the society we’re in right now — we’ve got a war going on, we’ve got crazy politics, it’s a very exciting time. So everybody out there that’s doing stand-up right now is growing, too. And with these deaths, those spots are now open for those statement makers. Our heroes are slowly leaving, so those new guys are stepping up and kicking. It’s a very exciting time in stand-up. I’ve always loved the clubs for that, because it’s the last place for free speech, I think. Going to a comedy club, you know it’s going to be irreverent.

The rest of our interview — including LaBove’s description of Kinison’s last moments — will be published on Thursday. By the way, LaBove has a few shows this weekend at the Jukebox Comedy Club. To get tickets, click here .

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We remember Sam Kinison

We remember Sam Kinison -- The comic, who wrestled with drugs and despair, seemed to be turning a corner before he died

”That’s when you know you’re pretty f—ed up, when it makes sense to fall asleep… I was driving between Needles and Barstow… It’s about 120 miles of desert… It’s four in the morning, man… Hey, this is a pretty good time to go to sleep… (screams hysterically) So I totaled this f—in’ car out, man!… I f—in’ totaled it! And it made SENSE at the time!…” From the Sam Kinison Family Entertainment Hour , April 4, 1991

Irony of ironies: On April 10, 1992, almost a year after delivering that routine on HBO, Sam Kinison was killed in a head-on collision on that same stretch of arid desert road between Needles and Barstow, Calif., the same haunted section of U.S. Highway 95 that opens Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas . A 5’8”, 275-pounder whose appetites matched his bulk, a kamikaze comic known for his piercing screams and full-bellow takes on sex, religion, and drugs, Kinison was heading for a stand-up gig in Laughlin, Nev., five days after marrying his third wife, Malika Souiri, 27. Eleven miles north of Needles, a pickup driven by an allegedly beer-drinking 17-year-old smashed into Kinison’s Pontiac, leaving Souiri unconscious and the 38-year-old comedian dead.

The greatest irony of all: Everyone thought he’d die sooner. With his massive addiction to alcohol and drugs, Kinison had been pegged by his friends and even by himself for a John Belushi-style demise. He once joked with friends that he’d probably be found dead one day ”with a couple of 16-year-old girls in a cheap motel with an ounce of blow and a scissors sticking out of my back.” That he should die just when he seemed to be chasing the demons from his life — not exactly clean and sober, according to the just-released autopsy report, but closer than he’d come in years — simply made no sense. And still doesn’t. In the weeks since he died, Kinison’s friends and family have tried to come to some understanding of his death and life, especially of those last bound-for-hell years.

Analyzing Kinison, once a troubled, rebellious child and later a holy-rolling preacher, they see a study in light-and-dark contrasts. He was ”a shy little huggy bear,” says guitarist Joe Walsh, and also a man who ”loved turmoil — that’s what made him tick,” says comic Allan Stephan, who often toured with Kinison. He had reportedly led a Black Mass or two in his time, yet ”Jesus was always near his heart,” according to former girlfriend (and Jim Bakker nemesis) Jessica Hahn. He compulsively beat up men and women, yet was so respectfully devoted to his mother, Marie, that their relationship ”was almost Elvis-like,” according to Sam’s brother, Bill.

All of us are creatures of complexity, but in Kinison the contradictions ran to wild extremes. ”Most people would go to the edge,” says his friend Robin Williams. ”Sam would jump over it.”

This is the trajectory of his fall.

The early part of his story is well known. Born in Peoria, Ill., the third son of four boys in a family of poor preachers, he was bred into anger — whether from his upbringing in poverty, or the devil, no one was ever able to determine fully. He worked as a Pentecostal evangelist from ages 18 to 25 but eventually found his true calling in comedy. Starting at a club in Houston and gravitating to the Los Angeles laugh circuit in 1981, Kinison got his break in 1985, when Rodney Dangerfield put him on his Young Comedians HBO special and gave Kinison what he would later call ”the six minutes that changed my life.”

By 1987 Kinison had sold 100,000 copies of his album Louder Than Hell , hosted Saturday Night Live , appeared in Dangerfield’s movie Back to School , befriended the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Ted Nugent, and Howard Stern, and was pulling in as much as $50,000 per concert gig. His comedy style was unlike anything ever heard — or, in his case, unlike anything ever heard outside of a psych ward: Addressing himself to starving Ethiopians, he roared: This is sand. Nothing grows here. Know what it’s gonna be like in a hundred years? It’s gonna be sand! You live in a f—ing desert! We have deserts in America — we just don’t live in them! Why don’t you move to where the food is?

But at the same time Kinison was telling friends that he was having major problems dealing with success. ”He didn’t know who to trust,” says Walsh. ”All of a sudden everybody wanted to be his friend. One time he called, depressed and crying. He said, ‘Am I blowing it?’ Sam never quite believed in himself, and it tore him up.”

It was around this period that Kinison’s rage, never completely repressed but now stoked by cocaine, began to explode. A pummeling of comic Mark Goldstein in front of Kinison’s stand-up alma mater, the Comedy Store, forced owner Mitzi Shore to give Kinison an ultimatum: ”I told him I didn’t want him around until he cleaned himself up. He left and I didn’t see him again for two years.”

His girlfriend at the time, comedian Tamayo Otsuki ( Davis Rules ), found life with Kinison too rough to take. ”As a person, Sam was a complete screwup,” says Otsuki. ”He had a nice, soft side, like a 5-year-old boy. But he was heavily into drugs. I left him about 60 times during the two years we saw each other. He’d call and leave 50 messages on my machine in one day. I finally had to disconnect my phone and move. I had to disappear because he’d come to my house and break in. He broke the window, the door, my chairs. His ego was hurt. He said, ‘How can you leave Elvis?”’

Malika Souiri, the Las Vegas dancer he started seeing after Otsuki and whom he eventually married, describes her relationship with Kinison as ”up and down like a roller coaster. I stood up to Sam lots of times, and I think he respected that.” Comedian Carl LaBove isn’t quite as delicate. ”It was one of those drag-down, knock-down, fight-it-out relationships,” he says. ”Sam took his punches too — she’s a kick-ass girl.”

Early in 1988, Kinison’s career began to lose momentum. In February, United Artists sued him for essentially walking out of what would have been his first starring film: Atuk , a piece of fluff about an Eskimo who goes to New York. Although the case was settled out of court, word went around that Kinison was unreliable and impossible to work with. The powerful Creative Artists Agency had already dropped him as a client. Then in May Kinison was dealt a ravaging personal blow. His brother Kevin, 28, the baby of the family, shot himself to death in his parents’ house in Tulsa after suffering a nervous breakdown. Kinison was devastated and began thinking about suicide himself. ”Till the day he died,” says Bill Kinison, ”Sam was still moved to tears when he talked about Kevin.”

The comic’s 1988 concert tour took in less than the previous year’s, but that didn’t stop Kinison from playing the prodigal. He was paying off a house in Malibu and renting a four-bedroom apartment in the Hollywood Hills. He spent lavishly on clothing, mostly from H. Lorenzo’s on Sunset Strip. He ate at Spago, Dan Tana’s, and the Palm and often left 100 percent of the bill as a tip. ”He was very extravagant,” says comedian Richard Belzer. ”Every meal was a celebration.” Although he dieted on and off, Kinison was a binger by nature. Descending on Ben Frank’s one night in 1988 with Hahn, his occasional date at the time, Kinison ordered sausages, bacon, eggs, buttermilk pancakes, and biscuits. ”The grease made the Exxon oil spill look mild,” says Hahn. ”And after eating all that, he said, ‘I feel good — want some dessert?”’

And there were drugs. Always drugs. Kinison’s booze and cocaine intake, never stinting, now began to rival his food consumption. In fact, a rider in his performance contract required promoters to provide an oxygen tank backstage. Its purpose: to revive him between shows. Comic Doug Bady remembers seeing Kinison ”sucking on an oxygen mask before a show. I wondered how was he ever going to get out there. He looked like he was going to fall asleep or pass out. But he would undergo a transformation almost, and by the time he got on stage, he was right on.”

Avoiding unconsciousness was also a big challenge at home. ”He hated to sleep,” says Hahn. ”He’d practically have to pass out first.” One of Kinison’s domestic goals was to stay up till the early morning hours to watch reruns of his favorite childhood series, The Fugitive . Among his prized possessions was a pair of bar tabs signed by the show’s star, David Janssen.

By 1990, Kinison was an outlaw. The mere rumble of his name meant trouble. His album Leader of the Banned was selling poorly, and MTV dropped his video from its rotation. HBO backed out of a projected special. On tour, he was so high one night, according to guitarist Randy Hansen, ”The audience began throwing things at him and chanting ‘Refund! Refund! Refund!’ He was barely able to stand up.”

Weirdness was everywhere. In June 1990, a 320-pound man, who had met Kinison hours before, allegedly attacked Souiri, who by this time was living with Sam, while the comic was passed out upstairs. She fired off four shots from one of Kinison’s many guns. The ensuing rape trial resulted in a hung jury and the case was dismissed, but the incident helped Souiri come to a definite conclusion about her life with Kinison.

”The party was over,” she says. ”I felt it was good for us to stop everything and start to live life to its fullest.” The two made a pact to go straight, and Kinison joined an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter, where he befriended fellow member Ozzy Osbourne. In March 1990, Kinison began telling audiences he was no longer getting high.

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Vegas headlining comic Carl LaBove dies at 62

Carl LaBove is remembered by his peers as a great comic onstage, and a great man away from it.

John Katsilometes

Carl LaBove was an original “Outlaw of Comedy.” But this outlaw was one of the good guys, universally revered by his fellow comics and the stand-up community across the country.

“I have seen thousands of comics in 20-plus years in the business, and there’s been nobody better than Carl,” said Cindy Nelson, manager of Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand and a 24-year veteran of the comedy industry. “I have never seen him have a bad show, ever. Everybody in the industry knows who he his. I have never heard anyone say a bad word about him. I can’t tell you how rare that is in the comedy world.”

LaBove died Friday afternoon at his home in Las Vegas after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 62.

“He was idolized on and off the stage,” Garrett, who had booked LaBove for a decade, said Friday. “He had some of the best casino bits. Legendary. This is very sad.”

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Carrot Top (@carrottoplive)

A celebration of LaBove’s life and career is planned for Garrett’s club in the Underground at MGM Grand, as soon as audiences are allowed back into the venue. The event won’t be at the temporary Studio A & B space at the MGM Grand Garden Arena entrance. LaBove specifically requested to be honored at the actual comedy club.

Carrot Top and opener Rob Sherwood cut a clip in LaBove’s honor on Friday night, toasting an image of LaBove after Carrot Top’s show at Luxor Theater. The headliner posted on his Instagram account, “We lost one of the best today. Carl LaBove as not only one of the funniest, talented people but one of the sweetest.”

Laugh Factory manager and headlining comic Harry Basil arranged for a tribute to LaBove to be shown through the weekend from the Trop’s marquee facing the Strip.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Brad Garrett (@bradgarrett)

LaBove gained fame in the 1980s as a member of “The Outlaws of Comedy,” co-founded by his friend Sam Kinison and featuring such pros as Allan Stephan and the late Mitchell Walters. The veteran comic was especially close to Kinison as “The Outlaws” became a top draw on the road. He was a passenger with Kinison when Kinison was killed in a crash April 10, 1992, on U.S. Highway 95 near Needles, California. The two were on their way to a show in Laughlin.

LaBove rarely talked of the crash publicly. But he did revive the “Outlaws” brand when he, Stephan and Walters reunited at the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana in July 2017. It was the only time they appeared on the same Vegas bill after their “Outlaws” days.

Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, LaBove had headlined at several Las Vegas clubs over the years, including Garrett’s club, Laugh Factory, Windows Showroom at Bally’s and Sin City Comedy & Burlesque at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort.

LaBove also made several appearances on “The Tonight Show” and on Showtime, HBO and also cut two concert CDs and a live-concert special. He was featured in Showtime’s 2020 series on the history of the Comedy Store in Hollywood.

Basil met LaBove in 1982, at the Comedy Store, Mitzi Shore’s legendary staging venue for rising comics, and established stars trying out new material. He became friends with Shore’s son and fellow headliner, Pauly Shore.

“He was definitely one of the best comics out there, and opening for Sam was tough because Sam’s audiences were just insane,” said Shore, who presented LaBove in his “Pauly Shore & Friends” 2009 Showtime special. “But he only got better after Sam died. Carl just had a bad run of luck in his life.”

Basil had booked LaBove in a midnight series at Laugh Factory in 2018-2019.

“Carl was part of the L.A. comedy boom in the 1980s, with ‘The Outlaws,’” Basil said. “They were like a rock-and-roll comedy troupe. Sam could be a little tough to get close to, but Carl was really loved and had the most talent. He wasn’t obnoxious, but he was always ‘on,’ and whether he liked it or not was always the center of attention.”

This was especially true when comics descended on the Laugh Factory green room for “HarryOke,” Basil’s late-night (and early morning) karaoke party. LaBove’s dance moves, and his contributions to such classics as “Heartache Tonight” and “Back in the U.S.S.R.” were performed with appreciable zeal.

LaBove was known as a great storyteller but also employed precision physical comedy. His “cop walk” was a satire of a police officer’s strut while issuing a traffic ticket. His “casino walk” was a drunk tourist zigzagging through a hotel, a routine locals especially appreciated.

“He was a great physical comedian,” Basil said. “He used his entire body in these bits.”

LaBove also often arrived onstage pretending to be excessively drunk (though he was famously sober), slurring through his opening monologue.

“He walked out as if he was plastered after I introduced him,” Garrett said. “He’d play it for three minutes, and you could hear a pin drop. Then he’s stop the ruse and the audience would be blown away at what a good actor he was, too.”

Nelson noticed a groundswell of discomfort during the routine.

“He’d play that to the point where it was really uncomfortable and people were saying, ‘I paid good money for this?’ I had a couple actually get up and walk out one time, and I had to stop them,” Nelson said. “I told them, ‘Just wait one more minute.’ And afterward they said, ‘I’m so glad you stopped us because that was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts . Contact him at [email protected]. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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Friends Shocked by Violent Death of Mellower Kinison : Entertainer: The shock comedian was sobering up, associates say. A teen-ager is held in the collision.

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They were the kind of kids to whom comedian Sam Kinison’s bellowing stage persona was often said to appeal--two young men, in their late teens, driving fast in an old pick-up on a Friday night.

Their 1974 Chevrolet truck reportedly was filled with beer cans as they tore down U.S. Highway 95, swerving into oncoming traffic near the California-Nevada border. Moments after hitting Kinison’s Pontiac Trans-Am head-on, fatally injuring the comedian and knocking his new wife unconscious, one of the teen-agers had only this to say, according to witnesses: “God! Look at my truck!”

On Saturday, Kinison’s friends said they could not believe how he had died. The 38-year-old comedian, who made his reputation as a hard-drinking, loudmouthed wild man, had just returned from his Hawaii honeymoon with Malika, the 26-year-old Las Vegas dancer he had married a week ago today. He was settling down, friends said, sobering up and trying to “come into the mainstream.”

“I can’t accept it. Especially the fact that he was not doing anything wrong,” said comedian Richard Belzer, an old friend, who noted that Kinison was on his way to work--a sold-out show in Laughlin, Nev.--when he died. “He was going to a job. His wife was in the car. It wasn’t a drug overdose. It wasn’t self-indulgence. He was living a clean life.”

Immediately after the crash, which occurred near Needles at about 7:30 p.m., Kinison at first appeared fine, said friends who watched the crash from a second car and reported that beer cans from the pickup were strewn across the highway. With what appeared to be only cuts on his lips and forehead, he wrenched himself free from his mangled vehicle, lying down only after friends begged him to.

“He said: ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die,’ ” said Carl LaBove, Kinison’s best friend and longtime opening act, who held the comedian’s bleeding head in his hands. Kinison paused, as if listening to a voice that LaBove could not hear.

“But why?” asked Kinison, a former Pentecostal preacher. It sounded, LaBove said, as if “he was having a conversation, talking to somebody else. He was talking upstairs. Then I heard him go, ‘OK, OK, OK.’ The last ‘OK’ was so soft and at peace. . . . Whatever voice was talking to him gave him the right answer and he just relaxed with it. He said it so sweet, like he was talking to someone he loved.”

Kinison died at the scene from internal injuries, according to authorities. An autopsy is planned.

Police did not release the name of the Las Vegas teen-ager who was driving the pickup truck, but California Highway Patrol dispatcher Tine Schmitt said the youth had been taken to Juvenile Hall in San Bernardino, where he was being held on suspicion of felony manslaughter.

Schmitt said the driver sustained moderate injuries and his passenger, also a juvenile, was more seriously hurt. Malika Kinison was in serious condition Saturday at Needles Desert Community Hospital.

Those in Kinison’s entourage speculated that the youths had been drinking. Majid Khoury, Kinison’s personal assistant, said there was beer in the back of the truck and in its cab. “It was all over the place,” Majid said. The CHP refused to discuss whether the two teen-agers were drunk or whether they had been given blood-alcohol tests.

Friends described Kinison as a warm man, generous to a fault--a description that seemed at odds with his brazen brand of humor. Especially in the early years of his career, the rotund comic was the king of shock comedy--vulgar, vitriolic and ear-splittingly loud. To many, he was downright offensive.

Where other comedians joked about sex, Kinison screamed about carnal relations among lepers and homosexual necrophilia. Other favorite targets included televangelists, women and Andrew Dice Clay, the abrasive comedian to whom Kinison hated being compared. He even had a few jokes about driving under the influence.

On Kinison’s 1988 album “Have You Seen Me Lately?” he defended drunk driving this way: “How else are we gonna get our cars home?”

But even Kinison’s critics admitted that he was much more than another gross-out comedian. At his best, he was a biting social commentator. The son of a preacher from Peoria, Ill., Kinison was particularly brilliant, many said, at dissecting religious hypocrisy.

In a riff on fallen televangelist Jim Bakker, Kinison imagined Judas, sitting in heaven, saying: “Maybe I’ll get a reprieve.” Jesus, meanwhile, “was goin’ through the Bible sayin’, ‘Where did I say: “Build a water slide?” ’ “

Mitzi Shore, owner of the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, the club where Kinison’s act first caught fire, said: “Sam was a healer, a comedy innovator, a brilliance. To hear his tirades in the main room on his special night were moments in comedy that will never be repeated. Wherever Sam is now, he is resting and we will dearly never, never forget.”

Belzer called his friend “one of the best comedians of his age. Beneath the rebel was a man with a real heart who had something to say about religion and politics. A lot of the audience went (to his shows) to see the wild man. But they came away having done a double-take on certain issues.”

Rodney Dangerfield, another longtime buddy of Kinison, agreed.

“It’s a big loss to people who want to laugh,” said Dangerfield, who had featured Kinison in his 1986 movie “Back to School.”

In recent years, some said, Kinison’s act had gotten tamer. Instead of the homeless, he aimed his razor-wit at Vice President Dan Quayle, who he said was greeted at Cabinet meetings by the chorus: “Hey, Dan’s here. Anyone want anything from Burger King?” After the gay and lesbian community took him to task for his jokes about AIDS, Kinison publicly repented, calling himself “insensitive” and promising to no longer make light of the AIDS epidemic.

In his personal life, too, Kinison--who once described his past cocaine use as being so heavy he used a garden hose to inhale--had mellowed as well.

Kinison, who starred in the Fox comedy series called “Charlie Hoover,” had been negotiating with the television network to do a variety show and was expecting to sign a two-movie deal next week, said Bill Kinison, his brother and manager. He said the comedian was looking forward to getting off the road for awhile, leaving the reckless lifestyle behind and spending more time with his family and friends.

“We had taken a turn in the career that we had been wanting to take,” Bill Kinison said. “He knew he couldn’t live on the road forever.”

A week ago, before a small gathering of friends at the Candlelight Chapel in Las Vegas, he and Malika had formalized their five-year relationship--marrying at 2 a.m. on the birthday of Kinison’s late father.

“He said it would be a tribute, and an easy day to remember,” said Florence Troutman, Kinison’s publicist. Dressed in a tuxedo and red bow tie, Kinison wept, Troutman said, as he recited his vows. “He was very happy.”

Kinison and his wife spent last week at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kona Coast, arriving back in Los Angeles early Friday. Kinison, who had been on a back-breaking road tour for much of the last year, had a sold-out show scheduled that night at the Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino. He was, friends said, revived and ready to work.

At midday, the Kinisons headed east, the lead car of a two-car caravan--Kinison’s brother, his personal assistant Khoury and LaBove followed in the van that also carried Kinison’s dog, a Lhasa apso named Russo. Three miles north of Needles, LaBove was startled awake in the back seat.

“I heard Bill saying: ‘Watch out for that guy, Sam. That guy’s in your lane,’ ” LaBove said. “Then I heard Bill scream, ‘Watch him, Sam! Watch him!’ Then I heard the most horrendous crash.”

The van skidded to a stop, LaBove said. Bill Kinison ran to check on his brother and, thinking that he was merely shaken, turned his attention to the driver of the pickup truck. The teen-ager was out of the cab, surveying his crushed windshield and seemingly uninterested in the human damage that had been done, LaBove said.

“He said: ‘God! Look at my truck!’ And Bill said: ‘You think you’ve got problems now, you don’t know who you hit,’ ” LaBove said. “He was thinking Sam was going to get out of the car yelling. He thought Sam was OK.”

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  • (0.10 mi) The Cromwell
  • (0.06 mi) Blue green club 36
  • (0.12 mi) Paris Las Vegas
  • (0.18 mi) Bellagio Las Vegas
  • (0.23 mi) Jockey Club
  • (0.00 mi) Nathan's Famous
  • (0.00 mi) Pan Asian Express
  • (0.00 mi) Chang's
  • (0.02 mi) BrewDog Las Vegas
  • (0.03 mi) Garrett Popcorn Shops

Carl Labove’s Stripped Information

IMAGES

  1. Ghost Story

    carl labove ghost story

  2. Ghost Story

    carl labove ghost story

  3. A Ghost Story was one of Sundance’s most buzzed-about films. It earns

    carl labove ghost story

  4. Ghost Story

    carl labove ghost story

  5. A Ghost Story + What We Do In the Shadows

    carl labove ghost story

  6. Ghost Stories [DVD] [2017]

    carl labove ghost story

VIDEO

  1. Carl LaBove: A Night at the Frolic

  2. Carl LaBove

  3. Laugh Attack 10 LaBove

  4. Carl LaBove concert footage

  5. Joe Shares a PARANORMAL Experience Story #joerogan

  6. Carl the Ghost

COMMENTS

  1. The Comedy Store is Haunted w Bobby Lee

    FULL EPISODE 👉 https://youtu.be/9lrYpXRMgRo👈 Bobby Lee is telling us about his encounters with spirits! He tells us about his home being on an Indian buri...

  2. R.I.P. Carl LaBove

    R.I.P. Carl LaBove. by Sean L. McCarthy April 23, 2021. Carl LaBove died today following a long battle with cancer. He was 62. LaBove, an original founding member of "The Outlaws of Comedy," was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up a military child, seeing the world, before landing back in Texas as a teen to begin his comedy career at 19.

  3. Living Above The Store: The Untold Story Of The Most Notorious House In

    As Carl LaBove, who moved in there in 1984, put it, "There was a feeling there that it had always been that kind of house. ... "I walked into a lot of ongoing stories," Marc Maron tells me ...

  4. Sam Kinison

    Sam Kinison. Samuel Burl Kinison ( / ˈkɪnɪsən / KIN-iss-ən; December 8, 1953 - April 10, 1992) was an American stand-up comedian and actor. A former Pentecostal preacher, he performed stand-up routines that were characterized by intense sudden tirades, punctuated with his distinctive scream, similar to charismatic preachers.

  5. The Haunting Of George Lopez ft. Bobby Lee

    Clip from TigerBelly (Ep 291) - https://youtu.be/dMSEHGKDUqkSubscribe... http://bit.ly/TigerBellyCLIPSWatch Full Episodes... http://bit.ly/SubscribeToTigerBe...

  6. Joey Diaz and Bobby Lee's Ghost Stories

    TCOWHN # 602 - Bobby LeeJoey Diaz and Lee Syatthttps://youtu.be/7iuvZdTJ4HQ#JoeyDiaz #LeeSyatt #Madflavor

  7. Comedian And Friend, Carl LaBove, Lost His Battle With Cancer

    One of the them was Carl LaBove, who died this past weekend at the age of 62. Carl LaBove was an original member of "The Outlaws of Comedy," co-founded by, and featuring, his friend Sam Kinison. Along with Allan Stephan and the late Mitchell Walters, "The Outlaws" became a top draw on the road. LaBove was a passenger with Sam Kinison ...

  8. Carl LaBove

    Carl LaBove. Producer: The Fair. Carl LaBove was an actor and producer, known for The Fair (1999), Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) and Hi-Riders (1978). He died on 23 April 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

  9. Comedian LaBove finds growth after paternity nightmare

    LaBove, one of the original "Outlaws of Comedy" and known for his longtime friendship with the late Sam Kinison, has returned to the world of stand-up comedy after spending a year in New York City ...

  10. Comedian Jon Lovitz looks back on 'SNL' days

    The Carl LaBove Booth at the Laugh Factory at the Tropicana is shown on Friday, July 16, 2021. (Harry Basil) ... But as Lovitz says today, "My stand-up is a different story.

  11. TIL comedian Sam Kinison was comforted by his best friend, Carl LaBove

    TIL comedian Sam Kinison was comforted by his best friend, Carl LaBove, as he died following an accident in 1992. In 2011, the Toronto Sun reported that Kinison had fathered a child with LaBove's wife. DNA tests taken from Kinison's brother show a 99.8% chance that Kinison was the father.

  12. Remembering Carlin

    Comedian Carl LaBove remembers run-in with legend. ... LaBove (above) held Kinison in his arms the day the East Peoria comic died after a car crash on the way to a show in Missori in 1992.

  13. We remember Sam Kinison

    We remember Sam Kinison. We remember Sam Kinison -- The comic, who wrestled with drugs and despair, seemed to be turning a corner before he died. By Jane Wollman Rusoff. Published on June 12, 1992 ...

  14. Carl LaBove dies of cancer

    LaBove died Friday afternoon at his home in Las Vegas after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 62. "He was idolized on and off the stage," Garrett, who had booked LaBove for a decade, said ...

  15. Ghost Stories with Steve-O

    Watch Full Episodes here... https://www.youtube.com/h3podcastWatch live every Tuesday and Friday... http://twitch.tv/h3h3productionsMERCH... http://h3h3shop....

  16. Two legendary comedians purportedly had some incredible ...

    326 votes, 82 comments. true

  17. CARRYING ON THE TEACHINGS : Carl LaBove Worked a Lot With, and Learned

    They met in 1979 at Houston's Comedy Workshop, where both made their stand-up debuts on the same night. At the time, Kinison was only two weeks out of the ministry; LaBove had studied acting in ...

  18. Comedian Carl Labove, who recently passed due to cancer at age ...

    Comedian Carl Labove, who recently passed due to cancer at age 62, eloquently describing the last moments and words of legendary stand up comedian Sam Kinison as Sam died in his arms after a car crash ... I only knew him as Sam Kinison's friend, and only from him telling this story. This clip is, I believe, from the Comedy Store documentary ...

  19. Remembering Sam Kinison: Groundbreaking comedian with Tulsa ties died

    Sam Kinison died 30 years ago — April 10, 1992. A comedy legend with Tulsa ties, Kinison was laid to rest alongside family members at Memorial Park Cemetery, 5111 S. Memorial Drive, where his ...

  20. Friends Shocked by Violent Death of Mellower Kinison : Entertainer: The

    At midday, the Kinisons headed east, the lead car of a two-car caravan--Kinison's brother, his personal assistant Khoury and LaBove followed in the van that also carried Kinison's dog, a Lhasa ...

  21. Carl LaBove (Stand-up Comedy) "Pauly Shore and Friends"

    Pauly Shore | Subscribe: http://bit.ly/subPaulyShoreMy old buddy Carl LaBove just passed today as many in The Comedy Store community have heard. Not only was...

  22. Carl Labove's Stripped

    About. Take a hilarious journey into Sin City through the comedic genius of Carl LaBove as he dismantles the experience of Las Vegas one story-at-a-time. As one of the original Outlaws Of Comedy his stand-up routines have made millions laugh across the globe. Now LaBove sets his twisted sites on the "City of Lights" and nails it to-the-wall ...

  23. Sam Kinison and Carl Labove •The Early Years.

    After a show a young comedian ask Carl LaBove about the early years of performing with Sam Kinison. The resulting answer is an inspirational story about two ...