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L E’s Stories – A Dark Angel Opens The Door For A New Generation Of Comedians – The Story Of Lenny Bruce

 

Since I am a by-product of comedy on television…..which began in the mid-to-late 1950’s….and considering the fact that today’s featured comedian only appeared on television a mere 6 times…..then it is understandable why I never was familiar with the comedic genius of Lenny Bruce….but regardless of my lack of familiarity with his talent….the fact remains that he has been ranked as the 3rd best stand-up comedian of all time behind such ImaSportsphile favorites Richard Pryor and George Carlin…..which puts him in “very high cotton” when it comes to comedic genius.  So, since Lenny Bruce appeared on television only a half-dozen times….there is really a limited supply of video footage of this exhalted comedian….but thankfully there is sufficient recorded material of his talents for us to more than adequately tell his his story within this post herewith.  It is our opinion that the story of Lenny Bruce needs to be told…..even though the fact remains that it is truly a “bittersweet story” due to the fact that his life was more sad and dark than you would expect from someone that was given the talent to make people laugh….as the truth remains that there really wasn’t a period of extended joy during his mere 40 years on this Earth.  However, the impact of those 40 years on generations of comedians to follow was unquestioned….. and will live on for generations to follow.  So, it is our distinct pleasure to celebrate the life and time of Lenny Bruce in this post today.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1925 To 1966 – ETrue Hollywood Story TV Documentary – Lenny Bruce: “His Life And Story” – Part 1

 

 

Leonard Alfred Schneider (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), known professionally as Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic and satirist…..who was was renowned for his open, free-wheeling, and critical style of comedy…..which contained satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity….whose 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a pardon posthumously in 2003.  Bruce paved the way for a counterculture-era comedians…..as his trial for obscenity was a landmark of freedom of speech in the United States.  In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 3rd behind Richard Pryor and George Carlin on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1925 To 1966 – ETrue Hollywood Story TV Documentary – Lenny Bruce: “His Life And Story” – Part 2

 

 

Bruce was a Jewish boy…..who was born Leonard Alfred Schneider in  Mineola, New York.  He grew up in nearby Bellmore…..and attended  Wellington C. Mepham High School…..who according to his autobiography, during part of his high school years, he lived at Dengler’s Farm on Wantagh Avenue in Wantagh, New York.  His parents divorced before he was 10…..and he lived with various relatives over the next decade.  His British-born father, Myron (Mickey) Schneider, was a shoe clerk…..as they saw each other very infrequently…..while his mother, Sally Marr (legal name Sadie Schneider, born Sadie Kitchenberg), was a stage performer…..and had an enormous influence on Bruce’s career.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1925 To 1966 – ETrue Hollywood Story TV Documentary – Lenny Bruce: “His Life And Story” – Part 3

 

 

After spending time working on a farm, Bruce joined the United States Navy at the age of 16 in 1942…..with active service during World War II aboard the USS Brooklyn (CL-40) in Northern Africa, Palermo in 1943…..and Anzio, Italy in 1944…..when in May 1945, after a comedic performance for his shipmates in which he was dressed in drag, his commanding officers became upset…..and that is when he defiantly convinced his ship’s medical officer that he was experiencing homosexual urges….which led to his dishonorable discharge in July 1945…..however, he had not admitted to or been found guilty of any breach of naval regulations…..and he successfully applied to change his discharge to “Under Honorable Conditions … by reason of unsuitability for the naval service”.

 

 

 


 
Comedy – 1997 – Radio Documentary – Lenny Bruce: “The Life And Crimes Of A Generational Comedian” 

 

 

During the Korean War era, Bruce served in the United States Merchant Marine…..while ferrying troops from the US to Europe and back.  In 1959, while videotaping the first episode of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy’s Penthouse, Bruce talked about his Navy experience and showed a tattoo he received in Malta in 1942.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1959 – Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Penthouse TV Special – Featuring Guest Comedian Lenny Bruce

 

 

After a short period living with his father in California, Bruce settled in New York City, hoping to establish himself as a comedian. However, he found it difficult to differentiate himself from the thousands of other show business hopefuls who populated the city.  One place where aspiring entertainers congregated was Hanson’s, a diner where Bruce met Joe Ancis…..who had a profound influence on Bruce’s approach to comedy…..as many of Bruce’s later routines reflected his meticulous schooling at the hands of Ancis. According to Bruce’s biographer Albert Goldman, Ancis’s humor involved stream-of-consciousness sexual fantasies and references to jazz.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1961 – Recorded Live At The Palladium – Lenny Bruce: “Stand-Up Comedian”                                               
 

 

Bruce took the stage as “Lenny Marsalle” one evening at the Victory Club as a stand-in master of ceremonies for one of his mother’s shows…..where his ad-libs earned him some laughs…..when soon afterward, in 1947, just after changing his last name to Bruce, he earned $12 and a free spaghetti dinner for his first stand-up performance in Brooklyn.  He was later a guest….who  was introduced by his mother, calling herself Sally Bruce, on the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts radio program…..when Lenny did a piece inspired by Sid Caesar, “The Bavarian Mimic”, featuring impressions of American movie stars like Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1965 – Lenny Bruce Stand-Up Routine – “The Bavarian Mimic”

 

 

Bruce’s early comedy career included writing the screenplays for Dance Hall Racket in 1953…..which featured Bruce, his wife Honey Harlow and mother Sally Marr in Dream Follies in 1954….which was a low-budget burlesque romp…..and a children’s film, The Rocket Man, in 1954.  In 1956, Frank Ray Perilli, a fellow nightclub comedian….who later wrote two dozen successful films and plays…..and became Bruce’s mentor and part-time manager. Through Perilli, Bruce met and collaborated with photojournalist William Karl Thomas on three screenplays….Leather Jacket….Killer’s Grave….and The Degenerate….however, none of which made it to the screen….but became the comedy material on his first three comedy albums.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1954 – Live Stand-Up Routine – Lenny Bruce: “Knowing How The DA Works”                                                     
 

 

Bruce was a roommate of comedian Buddy Hackett in the 1950’s….as the two appeared on the Patrice Munsel Show in 1957 and 1958….while calling their comedy duo the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players”…..which was 20 years before the cast of Saturday Night Live used the same name.  In 1957, Thomas booked Bruce into the Slate Brothers nightclub…..where he was fired the 1st night for what Variety headlined as “blue material”.  This led to the theme of Bruce’s 1st solo album on Berkeley-based Fantasy Records, The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce…..for which Thomas photographed the album cover….as Thomas also photographed Bruce’s other covers….and acted as cinematographer on abortive attempts to film their screenplays…..when in 1989, he wrote a memoir of their ten-year collaboration, Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet.  The 2016 biography of Frank Ray Perilli, The Candy Butcher,  devotes a chapter to Perilli’s ten-year collaboration with Bruce.                                      

 

 

 Comedy – 1962 – Recording Special – Lenny Bruce:  “Marriage, Divorce and Motels”

 

 

Bruce released four albums of original material on Fantasy Records…..then later compiled and re-released as The Lenny Bruce Originals.  Two later records were produced and sold by Bruce himself….which included a 10-inch album of the 1961 San Francisco performances that started his legal troubles.  Starting in the late 1960’s, other unissued Bruce material was released by Alan Douglas, Frank Zappa and Phil Spector, as well as Fantasy. Bruce developed the complexity and tone of his material in Enrico Banducci’s North Beach nightclub, the hungry i, where Mort Sahl had earlier made a name for himself.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1965 – Live Stand-Up Routine – Lenny Bruce: “Dirty Lenny and Why I Got Arrested So Often”                                
 

 

Branded a “sick comic”, Bruce was essentially blacklisted from television…. and when he did appear….which was thanks to sympathetic fans like Hefner and Steve Allen….it was with great concessions to Broadcast Standards and Practices…..as jokes that might offend, like a routine on airplane-glue-sniffing teenagers that was done live for The Steve Allen Show in 1959, had to be typed out and pre-approved by network officials.  On his debut on Allen’s show, Bruce made an unscripted comment on the recent marriage of Elizabeth Taylor to Eddie Fisher, wondering, “Will Elizabeth Taylor become bar mitzvahed?”

 

 

 

Comedy – 1959 – The Steve Allen Show Presents – Comedian Lenny Bruce Stand-Up Routine   

 

                                                        

In the midst of a severe blizzard, Bruce gave a famous performance at Carnegie Hall at midnight on February 4, 1961…..which was recorded and later released as the three-disc set The Carnegie Hall Concert.  In his posthumous biography of Bruce, Albert Goldman described that night: “It’s all a trip….and the best of it is you haven’t the faintest idea where you’re going!  Lenny worshiped the gods of Spontaneity, Candor and Free Association.  His greatest fear was getting his act down pat.  On this night, he rose to every chance stimulus, every interruption and noise and distraction, with a mad volleying of mental images that suggested the fantastic riches of Charlie Parker’s horn.   The first flash was simply the spectacle of people piled up in America’s most famous concert hall.”

Comedy – 1961 – Recorded Live On Stage – Lenny Bruce: “The Carnegie Hall Concert”                                                                                                                                          

  

In August 1965, a year before his death, Bruce gave his penultimate performance at San Francisco’s Basin Street West…..while mainly talking about his legal troubles.  The filmed performance was released by Rhino Home Video in 1992 as The Lenny Bruce Performance Film.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1965 – Live At Basin Street West In San Francisco – Lenny Bruce: “Last Stage Performance Before His Death”

 

 

In 1951, Bruce met Honey Harlow, a stripper from Manila, Arkansas…..when they were married that year…..and Bruce was determined she would end her work as a stripper.  They left New York in 1953 for the West Coast….where they got work as a double act at the Cup and Saucer in Los Angeles.  Bruce then joined a bill at the club Strip City…..as Harlow found employment at the Colony Club….which was widely known as the best burlesque club in Los Angeles at the time.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1963 – Lenny Bruce Stand-Up Routing – “The Irish People”

 

 

Bruce left Strip City in late 1954 and found work at various strip clubs in the San Fernando Valley. As master of ceremonies, he introduced strippers while performing his material. The Valley clubs provided the perfect environment for him to create new routines…..and according to his primary biographer, Albert Goldman, it was “precisely at the moment when he sank to the bottom of the barrel and started working the places that were the lowest of the low”…..when he suddenly broke free of “all the restraints and inhibitions and disabilities that formerly had kept him just mediocre and began to blow with a spontaneous freedom and resourcefulness that resembled the style and inspiration of his new friends and admirers, the jazz musicians of the modernist school.”                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

 

Comedy – 1961 – Excerpt From Lenny Bruce Album “American” – Lenny Bruce & Eric Miller “How To Relax Your Colored Friends At Parties”

 

 

Honey and Lenny’s daughter Kitty Bruce was born in 1955….but Honey and Lenny had a tumultuous relationship…..as many serious domestic incidents occurred between them….which usually the resulted in serious drug abuse. They broke up and reunited over and over again between 1956 and Lenny’s death in 1966…..as they 1st separated in March 1956…..and were back together by July of that year…..when they travelled to Honolulu for a nightclub tour.  During the trip, Honey was arrested for marijuana possession…..when she was prevented from leaving the island due to her parole conditions…..so, Lenny took the opportunity to leave her again….and this time he kidnapped the then one-year-old Kitty.  In her autobiography, Honey claims Lenny turned her in to the police…..as she was later sentenced to two years in federal prison.

 

 

Comedy – 1960 – Excerpt From Lenny Bruce Album “I’m Not A Nut, Elect Me” – Lenny Bruce & Eric Miller “The Defiant Ones”

 

 

Throughout the final decade of his life, Bruce was beset by severe drug addiction….while using heroin, methamphetamine and Dilaudid daily…..while suffering numerous health problems and personal strife as a result.  Then he had an affair with jazz singer Annie Ross in the late 1950’s…..when in 1959, his divorce from Honey was finalized. At the time of his death, his girlfriend was comedian Lotus Weinstock.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1962 – Live At The Gate Of Horn In Chicago – George Carlin On “Being Busted With Lenny Bruce”

 

 

Bruce’s desire to help his wife stop working as a stripper led him to pursue schemes designed to make as much money as possible….with the most notable being the Brother Mathias Foundation scam…..which resulted in Bruce’s arrest in Miami, Florida, in 1951 for impersonating a priest.  He was soliciting donations for a leper colony in British Guiana (now Guyana) under the auspices of the “Brother Mathias Foundation”…..which he had legally chartered with the name being his own invention…..but possibly referred to the actual Brother Matthias who had befriended Babe Ruth at the Baltimore orphanage where Ruth had been confined as a child…..and while posing as a laundry man, Bruce stole several priests’ clergy shirts and a clerical collar.  He was found not guilty because of the legality of the New York state-chartered foundation, the actual existence of the Guiana leper colony, and the local clergy’s inability to expose him as an impostor.  Later, in his semi-fictional autobiography How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, Bruce said that he had made about $8,000 in three weeks, sending $2,500 to the leper colony and keeping the rest.                                                                                                                         

 

 

 Comedy – 1960 – Lenny Bruce Recorded Live – “Let Me Explain Jewish and Goyish To You”

 

 

On October 4, 1961, Bruce was arrested for obscenity at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco…..where he had used the word “cocksucker”…..and said that “to is a preposition, come is a verb”….while saying that the sexual context of come was so common that it bore no weight…..and that if someone hearing it became upset…..then he “probably can’t come”.  Although the jury acquitted him…..that was when other law enforcement agencies began monitoring his appearances…..which resulted in frequent arrests under obscenity charges.  Bruce was arrested again in 1961 in Philadelphia for drug possession…..and again in Los Angeles two years later…..when the latter arrest took place in then-unincorporated West Hollywood…..as the arresting officer was a young deputy named Sherman Block…..who later became the county sheriff…..as the charge this time was that the comedian had used the word “schmuck”…..which was an insulting Yiddish word that was also considered a term for “penis”…..but the Hollywood charges were later dismissed.  On December 5, 1962, Bruce was arrested on stage at the Gate of Horn folk club in Chicago.  That year, he played at Peter Cook’s The Establishment club in London…..and in April the next year he was barred from entering the United Kingdom by the Home Office as an “undesirable alien”

 

 

Comedy – 1966 – Lenny Bruce Recorded Live – “Southerners, Religion, Racism, Obscenity, Law, Police & Politics”                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                     

In April 1964, he appeared twice at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, with undercover police detectives in the audience.  He was arrested along with club owners Howard and Elly Solomon…..who were arrested for allowing an obscene performance…..and on both occasions, Bruce was arrested after leaving the stage.  A three-judge panel presided over his widely publicized six-month trial, prosecuted by Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Richard Kuh, with Ephraim London and Martin Garbus as the defense attorneys.  Bruce and Howard Solomon were found guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964.  The conviction was announced despite positive testimony and petitions of support from among other artists, writers and educators including Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Jules Feiffer, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, William Styron, and James Baldwin….along with  Manhattan journalist and television personality Dorothy Kilgallen and sociologist Herbert Gans.  Bruce was sentenced on December 21, 1964, to four months in a workhouse….,and was set free on bail during the appeals process…..then he died before the appeal was decided…..as Solomon later saw Bruce’s conviction overturned.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1961 – Lenny Bruce Recorded Live – “Christ And Moses”                                                                                                              
 

 

Bruce appeared on network television only six times.  In his later club performances, he was known for relating details of his encounters with the police directly in his comedy routines…..as these performances often included rants about his court battles over obscenity charges….with tirades against fascism…..and complaints that he was being denied his right to freedom of speech…..which resulted in him being banned outright from several U. S. cities from performing. 

 

 

 

Comedy – 1959 – TV Special “The World Of Lenny Bruce” – Featuring Lenny Bruce’s Greatest Statement 
About Jazz and Modern Art

 

                                                                                                                                                     

In September 1962, his only visit to Australia caused a media storm….albeit he was not banned nor forced to leave the country.  He was booked for a two-week engagement at Aaron’s Exchange Hotel….which was a small pub in central Sydney, by American-born, Australia-based promoter Lee Gordon….. who was by then deeply in debt, nearing the end of his formerly successful career, and desperate to save his business.  Bruce’s 1st show at 9 p.m. on September 6 was uneventful…..but his 2nd show at 11 p.m. led to major public controversy……as Bruce was heckled by audience members…..and when local actress Barbara Wyndon stood up and complained that Bruce was only talking about America…..and asked him to talk about something different, a clearly annoyed Bruce responded, “Fuck you, madam. That’s different, isn’t it?”…..as Bruce’s remark shocked some audience members and several walked out.  By the next day, several Sydney papers denounced Bruce as “sick”…..as one illustrated their story with a retouched photograph appearing to show Bruce giving a fascist salute.  The venue owners cancelled the rest of Bruce’s performances…..and he retreated to his Kings Cross hotel room.  Local university students….which included future OZ magazine editor Richard Neville…..who were fans of Bruce’s humor tried to arrange a performance at the Roundhouse at the University of New South Wales….but at the last minute the university’s vice-chancellor rescinded permission to use the venue…..with no reason given…..and an interview Bruce was scheduled to give on Australian television was cancelled by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.  Bruce remained largely confined to his hotel….. but eight days later gave his 3rd and last Australian concert at the Wintergarden Theatre in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.  Although it had a capacity of 2,100, only 200 people attended, including a strong police presence…..and Bruce gave what was described as a “subdued” performance. It was long rumored that a tape recording of the historic performance was made by police…..but it was in fact recorded by local jazz saxophonist Sid Powell….who brought a portable tape recorder to the show……as the tape was rediscovered in 2011 in the possession of Australian singer Sammy Gaha…..who had acted as Bruce’s chauffeur during his visit….when it was subsequently donated to the Lenny Bruce audio collection at Brandeis University.  Bruce left the country a few days later and spoke little about the experience.                                                                                                                               

 

 

Comedy – 1962 – Recorded Live at the Wintergarden Theatre In Sydney, Australia – Lenny Bruce: “Live In Concert”                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Increasing drug use also affected Bruce’s health…..and by 1966, he had been blacklisted by nearly every nightclub in the U.S…..as owners feared prosecution for obscenity.  He gave a famous performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre in December 1965…..which was recorded and became his last live album, The Berkeley Concert…..as the performance has been described as lucid, clear and calm and one of his best.  His last performance took place on June 25, 1966, at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, on a bill with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention.  The performance was not remembered fondly by Bill Graham…..whose memoir describes Bruce as “whacked out on amphetamine”…..when Graham thought that Bruce finished his set emotionally disturbed.                                                                                                     

 

 

 Comedy – 1965 – Lenny Bruce Recorded Live – “The Berkeley Concert”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

At the request of Hefner and with the aid of Paul Krassner, Bruce wrote an autobiography that was serialized in Playboy in 1964 and 1965.  It was later published as How to Talk Dirty and Influence People.  During this time, Bruce also contributed a number of articles to Krassner’s satirical magazine The Realist.                                                                                                                                              

 

 

Comedy – 1966 – Special Recording Of Lenny Bruce Live At UCLA – “How To Talk Dirty And Influence People”                                                                                                                                                                                   
 

 

On August 3, 1966, Bruce was found dead in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home…..as the official photo taken at the scene showed him lying naked on the floor, a syringe and burned bottle cap nearby, along with various other narcotics paraphernalia.  Record producer Phil Spector, a friend of Bruce, bought the negatives of the photographs “to keep them from the press”…..while the official cause of death was “acute morphine poisoning caused by an overdose”.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 Comedy – 1963 – Lenny Bruce Recorded Live – “Blah Blah Blah Blah”

 

 

Bruce’s remains were interred in Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, California….but an unconventional memorial on August 21 was controversial enough to keep his name in the spotlight…..as over 500 people came to the service to pay their respects, led by Spector.  Cemetery officials tried to block the ceremony after ads for it encouraged attendees to bring box lunches and noisemakers.  Delivering the eulogy, featured at the end of the documentary Lenny Bruce Without the Tears, the Rev. William Glenesk said:  “He was in a sense an evangelist, on a street corner.  He was a man,up tight against an artificial world….who shattered its facades, and its hypocrisy, and, if you will pardon the phrase, which seems to become a cliche, he saw life as it is.”

 

 

 

Comedy & Late Night Show – 1975 – Good Night America With Geraldo Rivera Special – “Lenny Bruce Without Tears”

 

Bruce’s epitaph reads: “Beloved father—devoted son / Peace at last”.  Dick Schaap concluded his eulogy to Bruce in Playboy with the words: “One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That’s obscene”.  A memorial event was held at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City on August 12, which was “packed to overflowing” an hour before it was due to get underway…..which was attended by prominent members of the arts community, many of whom also performed, and included Allen Ginsberg, Joe Lee Wilson, Jean Shepherd, Charlie Haden and The Fugs…..as Paul Krassner officiated.                                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 Comedy – 1960 – Lenny Bruce Recorded Live – “The Meaning of Obscenity”

 

 

On December 23, 2003, 37 years after Bruce’s death, New York Governor George Pataki granted him a posthumous pardon for his obscenity conviction.                                                                                                                                  

 

 

 Comedy – 1966 – Special – Lenny Bruce On Stage One Last Time Before He Died

 

 

On November 5, 1969, syndicated columnist Sydney J. Harris wrote of Lenny Bruce as follows:  “Perhaps the most profound and cataclysmic change in our popular culture the last few years…..matching the NEW SOUND in music…..has been the kind of humor exemplified by the Smothers Brothers, Laugh-In, Woody Allen and that whole breed…..whose secret source of strength was the late dark angel, Lenny Bruce…..as Bruce was the Gertrude Stein of comedians.  Never popular himself, because he was too cryptic and too scatological for popular taste, he nevertheless influenced a whole generation of comics, just as Stein influenced Hemingway and that generation of writers.  Her own work was a dead end (so was Bruce’s), but out of that compost grew the buds of a flourishing school.”                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 Music – 1986 – Bob Dylan Live With Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers As They Perform – “Lenny Bruce”

 

 

Bruce was the subject of the 1974 biographical drama Lenny, directed by Bob Fosse and starring Dustin Hoffman…..who was nominated for an Best Actor Academy Award for the role.  It was based on the Broadway stage play of the same name by Julian Barry…..which starred Cliff Gorman in his 1972 Tony Award-winning role.  The main character’s editing of a fictionalized film version of Lenny was also a major part of Fosse’s own autobiopic, the 1979 Academy Award-nominated All That Jazz, where Gorman again played Bruce.

 

 

Comedy & Film – 1974 – Official Film Trailer – Dustin Hoffman In “Lenny” – A Bob Fosse Film                                         

 

 

Comedy – 1974 – Excerpt From Biographical Drama “Lenny” Starring Dustin Hoffman – “Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight”                                                                                                                                                         

 

The documentary film Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth (1998), directed by Robert B. Weide and narrated by Robert De Niro…..and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.  Episode 12 of Season 1 of Liberty on Trial in America: Cases That Defined Freedom, aired on January 3, 2020, explored the ways in which Bruce and the First Amendment affected each other.                                                                                                                        

 

 

Comedy – 2020 – Prime Video Special -The Very Best of Lenny Bruce – Presented By The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

 

 

In 2004, Comedy Central placed Bruce at #3 on its list of the 100 greatest stand-ups of all time…..which was above Woody Allen at #4…..and below Richard Pryor at #1…..and George Carlin #2…..as both comedians who ranked higher than Bruce considered him a major influence.  Pryor said that hearing Bruce for the first time “changed my life”…..while Carlin said that Bruce was a “brilliant comedian” who influenced him as much as a man in his moral thinking and attitudes as he did as a comedian…..for Carlin was arrested along with Bruce after refusing to provide identification when police raided a Bruce performance.                                                                                                          

 

 

Comedy – 1984 – Special – “A Tribute To Lenny Bruce” – With Steve Allen + George Carlin + Hugh Hefner + Mort Sahl + Bill Cosby + Jackie Vernon + George Kirby + Shecky Greene + Holly & Kitty Bruce

 

 

Not knowing very much about Lenny Bruce prior to publishing this story and tribute to him….it has become obvious that he was truly a comedic genius…. who just simply was 30 years before his time from the standpoint of comedy…..while being absolutely relevant and ground breaking in his approach and advocacy of “free speech”…..for he was truly the most significant crusader of the expression as to what was truly “free speech”.  In many ways, Lenny was simply the Charlie Parker of standup comedy…..as he was fast, brilliant and daring…..who pushed comedy into a modern era….as the fact remains that not one important modern day standup comedian with something to say hasn’t been affected in some way or another by Lenny….cuz he opened the door to a whole new generation of standup comics.  This man was a brilliant orator…..who required his listeners to listen to what he had to say 2-3 times in order to get all the nuanced referencing…..for he was a true master of this craft and a thinker for all the ages.  Personally, I love that even now, Lenny Bruce still causes controversy and debate…..I mean, what more of a legacy could anyone of his ilk ask……as it takes the other 90% of our brain to understand Lenny…..cuz he truly was a genius.  There was a time when intelligent monologues were considered worthwhile…..for he wasn’t up on stage just to be funny…..for he pointed out truths….and hypocrisy…..and ironies in the society.  He put himself on the line to defend free speech…..and fight against the repressive climate of the 1950’s…..which still persists in the world today in 2022….and he went to JAIL for it…..so, any thinking person has to give him some credit for the stances that he took.  Truth be known, Lenny would have had a field day with American politics had he lived to the early 21st Century.  My opinion is after viewing all the videos in this post, that all stand up comedy can be measured as before Lenny Bruce and after Lenny Bruce…..for such was the man’s influence.  Throughout his short lifetime, he fought a war on a battlefield where every victory hurt…..yet one more Prometheus…..while bringing fire to the helpless masses…..yet one more hero, bringing us one step closer to godhood…..yet one more martyr, beaten down for pushing us to rise to our limitless potential…..while ever attempting to dismiss the insane and fevered bigotry of rulers over thought and word….. while denouncing the insipid and simple minded offense over that which does not matter…..and letting go of fear and violence and to instead embrace peace and truth.  For that and so much more, Lenny Bruce was demonized and ostracized his entire lifetime….but the truth be told, Lenny, you will always be remembered…..while all of his enemies have fallen into oblivion…..and therein is why we at ImaSportsphile are proud to provide this testament to your life and brilliance of light that you left for generations that followed …..and generations to come.                                                                                                  

 

Comedy – 2016 – Special Tribute At The New York Society For Ethical Culture – Lenny Bruce Tribute “On The 50th Anniversary Of His Death”

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