If you’re familiar with Lenny Bruce, you’ll know just how legendary he was from a comedic standpoint, as he was unafraid to challenge any normality by questioning the logic and reason of politics, religion, and social norms.
Lenny Bruce was an American comedian popular throughout he mid 50’s-60’s for his “obscene” and “vulgar” stand up routines. Bruce was a unique comic, as most of his material stemmed from his own personal (and satirical) criticism of social norms.
At the point in time Bruce was writing his autobiography, he had been arrested nineteen times. Nineteen. And these trials and court hearings that Bruce had included in his autobiography were very interesting to me, to read the unfairness and strong hatred towards Bruce.
Now I’m in no way claiming that Bruce was a saint, because even he would find that funny. But just trying to imagine living in a different time like this, where you’d be so restricted from basic freedoms and bullied into the fear of arguing against popular opinion. But that was Bruce. One of his court hearings was based solely on the fact from saying one dirty word in a routine, c*cks*cker.
This is so baffling to me; I went to see Pete Davidson in November-do you want to know all the things HE said in his routine that night? But again, it’s 2020, and times have definitely changed.
Even though Bruce would use colorful language, he has said that he didn’t want to use it as a shock factor, he only wanted to use it if it were relevant to his story or whatever he was currently saying.
I never knew Lenny Bruce existed, or that he was even a real person, once I had finally heard of him. I discovered Lenny Bruce while watching the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and absolutely became infatuated (and, albeit, in love) with Luke Kirby’s performance as Lenny Bruce, seen below:
(If you haven’t seen Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, you need to watch it asap because it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen in a very long time).
A lot of the comedians and entertainers on this show are fictional, so when I followed this controversial character, Lenny Bruce, to discover that he was a real comic back in the day, I decided to do some research.
I have always been drawn to controversy-to an extent. In middle school I read Catcher in the Rye, which all my teachers commented on being banned from their schools when they were my age, (and in some schools, still banned) because of it’s mature and “grotesque” nature. My little 12 year old mind was trying to understand how a book from the 50’s could still be so offensive in 2008.
So when I heard of Bruce and all of his antics I thought, “here we go, it’s eighth grade all over again.” Because I found the comic so interesting from what I heard or saw, I decided to buy his autobiography to learn a little more.
I watched some of his stand up on YouTube and found multiple interesting comments like, “he’s George Carlin and Martin Short combined,” or “Lenny Bruce paved the way for future comedians.” The second was definitely true.
In my opinion, it definitely seems that comics were much more clever with their words or material back in the day, where now it seems that a majority of comics tend to rely on colorful language throughout there routines. Which isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just different-as it should be.
I found the book to be a very interesting read. You grow with Lenny and see how influences had shaped him to become the man that he was. From growing up without much money, to his time in the Navy, to when he falls deeply in love with Honey-you come to find yourself experiencing all the difficulties he went through.
With a lot of the old stars or “icons” that admire, I come to find that nearly every single one of them lived a very troubled life. Lenny struggled with severe depression and came down with pneumonia twice. It became especially difficult for him, since many doctors would turn him away, scared of what might happen if they helped the obscene Lenny Bruce.
The most infuriating part about this book were the court hearings. (They did tend to drag a little at some points). The police officers absolutely hated Bruce, and there were many unfair trials without evidence or anything to backup their claims for whatever they were accusing or arresting Bruce for. That’s what bothered me-the unfairness.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Lenny, or to read about comedic challenges back in the day.
If you wish to buy the book, I will link it below.
How to Talk Dirty & Influence People
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