Carl LaBove met Sam Kinison at a stand-up show in 1979 -- it was the first performance for both of them. The two would go on to become the "Outlaws of Comedy," selling out theaters across the country in the 1980s.
More than 30 years later, even after Kinison's death, their lives still are intertwined.
LaBove was in a lengthy paternity dispute with his ex-wife over their daughter. He once thought he was the father. Turns out he wasn't. Kinison was.
After years in the courts, the judgments haven't been in his favor. But he figures he's got a story to tell. So, he's going to tell it.
LaBove appears in the Lowcountry this weekend and shortly after that he'll be moving to New York to perform a one-man show based on his life and career. He's also working on an autobiography.
"You find yourself in all these situations, and you think, 'How did I get here?'," he said. "And then you look back and see how the dots connect. Life can be hard. It can rise up and kick you in the groin. But to be able to recover from that is something great."
LaBove and Kinison worked their first stand-up show together at a comedy club in LaBove's native Texas. They both came from similar backgrounds, kids from religious families who really didn't know what they were about to get into.
"We were kindred spirits," he said. "We're were figuring out what we were going to do."
Kinison and LaBove moved to Los Angeles with nothing much more than a car and a few belongings. LaBove started as a doorman at the famed Comedy Store, owned by Pauly Shore's mother, Mitzi, and worked his way on-stage.
Kinison hit it big after Rodney Dangerfield's Young Comedians Special in 1984. Kinison, LaBove and a few other fellow comics branded themselves the "Outlaws of Comedy," reflecting their politically incorrect style. They toured amphitheaters like rock stars. Kinison became one of the biggest comics in the '80s but delved into drugs. Before he could recover, he was killed in an auto accident in 1992.
By that time, LaBove and his wife had a daughter. Shortly after Kinison's death, LaBove's wife told him the girl's father was actually his former best friend and comedy partner.
Strapped by the custody payments, LaBove began to fight in the courts to prove the girl wasn't his. Years later, he had a DNA test done that proved the girl was a member of the Kinison family. But because he couldn't specifically prove Sam Kinison was the father, judges didn't rule in his favor.
"I fought paternity battles for 15 years, and the judge went against me," he said. "I just accepted that we don't win all the time in life. What I can do now is tell the tale."
He'll be sorting through all those emotions in his one-man show and in his book. Since going public with his dispute, he's become a bit of a poster boy for ugly paternity disputes, appearing on talk shows and counseling people going through similar situations.
At this point, he's no longer bitter with Kinison. He compares their friendship to that of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, best friends who shared many good times and many bad times
"He didn't live long enough to make things right," LaBove said. "My assumption was that he would have. We probably wouldn't be friends for a long time but something would have pulled us together again. We would have moved on. I made myself happy by coming to terms with all this."