Lenny Bruce
comedian and social critic
Lenny Bruce
Leonard Alfred Schneider, better known by the stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American comedian, social critic and satirist. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in New York state history. He was renowned for his open, free-style, dangerous and critical form of comedy which integrated politics, religion, and sex.
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"Mr. Saturday Night," Julian Velard Readies Sophomore CD fo US Release on November - Altsounds.com
Google News - over 5 years
Putting on an outfit allows me to take on some of his charm, somewhere between Lenny Bruce and Woody Allen - the archetypal dark neurotic dude on stage just yammering away." Mr. Saturday Night follows Julian's 2009 full-length debut The Planeteer,
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We're Not So Different, You and I - Huffington Post
Google News - over 5 years
It was like the best of the world combined, and because of that I was exposed to things kids my age had never heard of: Ella Fitzgerald and Janis Joplin, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Lenny Bruce (Lenny because my father is the eternal hippie and would break
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SAN BERNARDINO: Snoop unleashes Bad Girls of Comedy - InlandSoCal.com
Google News - over 5 years
"I don't think there should be," she said, noting that legendary comedian Lenny Bruce was willing to go to prison for comedy. "My act is a social commentary on female sexuality." When asked where her style of comedy comes from, Macie was quick to reply
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Richard Lewis Sees the Dark at the End of the Tunnel - Express from The Washington Post
Google News - over 5 years
Richard Lewis is part of a proud line of bleakly funny comedians, falling somewhere after Lenny Bruce, before Steven Wright and next to personal pal Larry David. "Most lives are pretty miserable, other than a few bouts of happiness," Lewis kvetches
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Edinburgh comedy notebook: Burlesque gets in on the joke - The Guardian (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The show – which they insist is not variety but very specifically standup and striptease, with a changing bill of three comics, three dancers and a compere – is, they explain, an implicit tribute to Lenny Bruce and is intended as a celebration of free
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From iconic to naturalistic Jesus - Philadelphia Inquirer
Google News - over 5 years
In a long-ago satiric routine called "Christ and Moses," comedian Lenny Bruce imagined Jesus and Moses returning to Earth and walking into St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue during a Mass. The flustered celebrant, Cardinal
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Kreayshawn's White Girl Mob & The N-Word - Spin Magazine
Google News - over 5 years
VladTV.com asked the Cool Kids about Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci," and the group's Chuck Inglish defended V-Nasty with a strange sort of misreading of '60s satirist Lenny Bruce's "Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight?" stand-up comedy bit
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Ryan Adams, Robyn, et al. Set for 2011 City Arts Fest, 10/20-22 - Broadway World
Google News - over 5 years
... and includes four Seattle premieres: The Can Can will play host to celebrated Wooster Group & The Foundry Theatre performer Steve Cuiffo in his one man show Steve Cuiffo is Lenny Bruce, which New York Magazine calls both "masterful" & "eerily
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Richard Lewis on Stand-Up Comedy, His Heroes, and ... Happiness - SF Weekly (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
To be able to help Lenny Bruce's daughter stay sober, to have Buster Keaton's widow come over to my house to see all the Keaton memorabilia I have -- these things are just too good to be true. ​Up until just weeks ago, I was in a deep funk, thinking,
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Amy Winehouse: An Artist, Not a Cliché - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Lenny Bruce and other comics medicated right on stage. Billy Holiday was a jazz great and heroin addict. Whatever makes a person an artist also makes them susceptible or predisposed to addictions, to self medication; not all, but some
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It's potty time: Foulmouthed funnyman Andrew Dice Clay on the comeback trail - New York Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
Born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, 53 years ago, Andrew Clay Silverstein patterned himself after the outrageous humor of Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. Before there was Chappelle and "South Park" there was Dice storming on the scene with a following that
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The likeable Hannibal Buress is one funny guy - Globe and Mail
Google News - over 5 years
He then dubbed himself the Lenny Bruce of moustache humour. As for the hipsters, carnival-faced or not, they turned out in force to see a rising, young comedian at a venue which normally offers its stage to rising, young indie bands
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Pencil This In: Muppet Movies, Acrobats, And Lenny Bruce - Gothamist
Google News - over 5 years
You can check them out below (the picks include a Jim Henson retrospective, a gravity-defying acrobatic performance, and the resurrection of Lenny Bruce) but you can also get listings a day earlier by signing up for the Gothamist Daily newsletter—sign
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Lenny Bruce
  • 1966
    Age 40
    On August 3, 1966, a bearded Lenny Bruce was found dead in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home at 8825 W. Hollywood Blvd.
    More Details Hide Details The official photo, taken at the scene, showed Bruce 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's, bought the negatives of the photographs to keep them from the press. The official cause of death was "acute morphine poisoning caused by an accidental overdose." His 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. The service saw over 500 people pay their respects, led by Spector. Cemetery officials had tried to block the ceremony after advertisements for the event encouraged attendees to bring box lunches and noisemakers. Dick Schaap eulogized Bruce in Playboy, with the memorable last line: "One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That's obscene."
    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.
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    Increasing drug use also affected his health. By 1966 he had been blacklisted by nearly every nightclub in the United States, as owners feared prosecution for obscenity.
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  • 1965
    Age 39
    Bruce did give a famous performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre in December 1965.
    More Details Hide Details It was recorded and became his last live album, titled The Berkeley Concert; his performance here has been described as lucid, clear and calm, and one of his best.
  • 1964
    Age 38
    Bruce was sentenced on December 21, 1964 to four months in a workhouse; he was set free on bail during the appeals process and died before the appeal was decided.
    More Details Hide Details Solomon later saw his conviction overturned; Bruce, who died before the decision, never had his conviction stricken. Bruce later received a full posthumous gubernatorial pardon. Despite his prominence as a comedian, Bruce appeared on network television only six times in his life. In his later club performances Bruce was known for relating the details of his encounters with the police directly in his comedy routine. These performances often included rants about his court battles over obscenity charges, tirades against fascism and complaints that he was being denied his right to freedom of speech. He was banned outright from several U.S. cities, and in 1962 an interview he was scheduled to give on Australian television was banned in advance by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
    A three-judge panel presided over his widely publicized six-month trial, prosecuted by Manhattan Assistant D.A. Richard Kuh, with Ephraim London and Martin Garbus as the defense attorneys. Bruce and club owner Howard Solomon were both found guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964.
    More Details Hide Details The conviction was announced despite positive testimony and petitions of support from – among other artists, writers and educators – Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Jules Feiffer, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, William Styron, and James Baldwin, and Manhattan journalist and television personality Dorothy Kilgallen and sociologist Herbert Gans.
    In April 1964 he appeared twice at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, with undercover police detectives in the audience.
    More Details Hide Details He was arrested along with the club owners, Howard and Elly Solomon, who were arrested for allowing an obscene performance to take place. On both occasions, he was arrested after leaving the stage, the complaints again pertaining to his use of various obscenities.
  • 1962
    Age 36
    On December 5, 1962, Bruce was arrested at the legendary Gate of Horn folk club in Chicago.
    More Details Hide Details The same year he played at Peter Cook's The Establishment Club in London, and in April the next year he was barred from entering England by the Home Office as an "undesirable alien".
  • 1961
    Age 35
    Bruce was arrested again in 1961, in Philadelphia, for drug possession and again in Los Angeles, California, two years later.
    More Details Hide Details The Los Angeles arrest took place in then-unincorporated West Hollywood, and the arresting officer was a young deputy named Sherman Block, who would later become County Sheriff. The specification this time was that the comedian had used the word schmuck, an insulting Yiddish term that is an obscene term for penis.
    On October 4, 1961, Bruce was arrested for obscenity at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco; he had used the word cocksucker and riffed that "to is a preposition, come is a verb", that the sexual context of come is so common that it bears no weight, and that if someone hearing it becomes upset, he "probably can't come".
    More Details Hide Details Although the jury acquitted him, other law enforcement agencies began monitoring his appearances, resulting in frequent arrests under charges of obscenity.
    His growing fame led to appearances on the nationally televised Steve Allen Show, where he made his debut with an unscripted comment on the recent marriage of Elizabeth Taylor to Eddie Fisher, wondering, "will Elizabeth Taylor become bar mitzvahed?" On February 3, 1961, in the midst of a severe blizzard, he gave a famous performance at Carnegie Hall in New York.
    More Details Hide Details It was recorded and later released as a three-disc set, titled The Carnegie Hall Concert. In the liner notes, Albert Goldman described it as follows:
  • 1959
    Age 33
    Hefner had long assisted Bruce's career, featuring him in the television debut of Playboy's Penthouse in October 1959.
    More Details Hide Details During this time, Bruce also contributed a number of articles to Paul Krassner's satirical magazine The Realist.
  • 1955
    Age 29
    Honey and Lenny's daughter Kitty Bruce was born in 1955. He had an affair with the jazz singer Annie Ross in the late 1950s. In 1959, Lenny's divorce from Honey was finalized.
    More Details Hide Details Bruce dated actress Faye Dunaway for a time in the 1960s. This desire to end his wife's stripper days led Bruce to pursue schemes that were designed to make as much money as possible. The most notable was the Brother Mathias Foundation scam, which resulted in Bruce's arrest in Miami, Florida later that year for impersonating a priest. He had been soliciting donations for a leper colony in British Guiana (now Guyana) under the auspices of the "Brother Mathias Foundation", which he had legally chartered – the name was his own invention, but possibly referred to the actual Brother Matthias who had befriended Babe Ruth at the Baltimore orphanage to which Ruth had been confined as a child. Bruce had stolen several priests' clergy shirts and a clerical collar while posing as a laundry man. 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 inability of the local clergy to expose him as an impostor. Later, in his semifictional autobiography How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, Bruce revealed that he had made about $8,000 in three weeks, sending $2,500 to the leper colony and keeping the rest.
  • 1954
    Age 28
    Bruce left Strip City in late 1954 and found work within the San Fernando Valley at a variety of strip clubs.
    More Details Hide Details As the master of ceremonies, his job was to introduce the strippers while performing his own ever-evolving material. The clubs of the Valley provided the perfect environment for Bruce to create new routines: according to Bruce's 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" that 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."
  • 1953
    Age 27
    Bruce and Harlow eventually 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, California.
    More Details Hide Details Bruce then went on to join the bill at the club Strip City. Harlow found employment at the Colony Club, which was widely known to be the best burlesque club in Los Angeles at the time.
  • 1951
    Age 25
    In 1951 Bruce met his future wife, Honey Harlow, a stripper from Baltimore, Maryland.
    More Details Hide Details They were married that same year, and Bruce was determined to have her end her work as a stripper.
  • 1947
    Age 21
    Lenny 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. His ad-libs earned him some laughs. 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.
    More Details Hide Details He was later a guest—and was introduced by his mother, who called herself "Sally Bruce"—on the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts radio program, doing a Sid Caesar-inspired bit "The Bavarian Mimic", featuring impressions of American movie stars (e.g., Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson). 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 roles; Dream Follies in 1954, 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 eventually became a screenwriter of two dozen successful films and plays, became a mentor and part-time manager of Lenny Bruce. Through Perilli, Bruce met and collaborated with photojournalist William Karl Thomas on three screenplays (Leather Jacket, Killer's Grave and The Degenerate), none of which made it to the screen, and the comedy material on the first three albums. In 1957 Thomas booked Bruce into The Slate Brothers nightclub, where Bruce was fired the first night for what Variety headlined as "blue material,"; this led to the theme of Bruce’s first solo album on Fantasy Records, The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce, for which Thomas shot the album cover. Thomas also shot other album covers, acted as cinematographer on abortive attempts to film their screenplays, and in 1989 authored a memoir of their ten-year collaboration titled Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet, and in 2016 a biography of Frank Ray Perilli titled The Candy Butcher, which devotes a chapter to Perilli’s ten-year collaboration with Bruce.
  • 1945
    Age 19
    This led to his dishonorable discharge in July 1945.
    More Details Hide Details However, he had not admitted to or been found guilty of any breach of naval regulations and successfully applied to have his discharge changed to "Under Honorable Conditions... by reason of unsuitability for the naval service". In 1959, while taping 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. After a short stint in California spent living with his father, 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 showbusiness hopefuls who populated the city. One locale where they congregated was Hanson's, the diner where Bruce first met the comedian Joe Ancis, who had a profound influence on his approach to comedy. Many of Bruce's later routines reflected his meticulous schooling at the hands of Ancis. According to Bruce's biographer Albert Goldman, Ancis' humor involved stream-of-consciousness sexual fantasies and references to jazz.
    In May 1945, after a comedic performance for his ship-mates in which he was dressed in drag, his commanding officers became upset.
    More Details Hide Details He defiantly convinced his ship's medical officer that he was experiencing homosexual urges.
  • 1942
    Age 16
    After spending time working on a farm, Bruce joined the United States Navy at the age of 16 in 1942, and saw active duty during World War II aboard the fighting in Northern Africa, Palermo, Italy in 1943 and Anzio, Italy in 1944.
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  • 1925
    Born on October 13, 1925.
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