Comedian-actor Kinison, who died in a car accident in April 1992, is praised in A Tribute to Sam Kinison by colleagues including Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield, In Living Color's Jim Carrey, and MTV's Pauly Shore. Their tributes take the form of individual stand-up routines of varying quality, taped before a live audience at a theater in Anaheim, Calif. Dangerfield is crisply efficient he can still make his ''no respect'' act seem like a snappy idea. At the other extreme, Shore reaffirms his status as the least funny comedian working; his poorly rhymed poem to Kinison is subpar Nipsy Russell material. The best performance is turned in by Carrey, who refers wryly to the always-ballistic Kinison as ''shy, retiring, never quick to anger.''
Performance clips of Kinison are shown, and with all due respect, the guy is never as funny in them as his fellow comics assert. Then again, 10-minute spots on cable specials and a costarring role in the wretched 1991 Fox sitcom Charlie Hoover were probably not Kinison's best showcases. All of these men speak highly of him as a daring artist, not the merely rude screamer he so often appeared to be on television. Maybe the place to have taken full measure of Sam Kinison's talent was in a nightclub. C+