R.I.P. Carl LaBove

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:

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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