Lenny Bruce

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Lenny Bruce
Lenny Bruce.jpg
Bruce in 1961
Leonard Alfred Schneider

(1925-10-13)October 13, 1925
DiedAugust 3, 1966(1966-08-03) (aged 40)
Cause of deathDrug overdose
Resting placeEden Memorial Park Cemetery
Years active1947–1966
Honey Bruce
(m. 1951; div. 1957)
Comedy career
MediumStand-up, television, books
GenresSatire, political satire, black comedy, blue comedy
Subject(s)American culture, American politics, race relations, religion, human sexuality, obscenity, pop culture
Notable works and rolesThe Lenny Bruce Originals
The Carnegie Hall Concert
Let the Buyer Beware
How to Talk Dirty and Influence People

Leonard Alfred Schneider (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), better known by his stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, and satirist. He was renowned for his open, free-style and critical form of comedy which integrated satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity, his 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in the history of New York state, by then-Governor George Pataki in 2003.

Bruce is renowned for paving the way for future outspoken counterculture-era comedians, and his trial for obscenity is seen as a landmark for freedom of speech in the United States.[2][3][4][5] In 2017, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him third (behind disciples Richard Pryor and George Carlin) on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time.[6]

Early life[edit]

Lenny Bruce was born Leonard Alfred Schneider to a Jewish family in Mineola, New York, grew up in nearby Bellmore, and attended Wellington C. Mepham High School.[7] Lenny's parents divorced before he turned 10, and he lived with various relatives over the next decade, his British-born father, Myron (Mickey) Schneider, was a shoe clerk, and the two saw each other very infrequently. Bruce's mother, Sally Marr (legal name Sadie Schneider, born Sadie Kitchenberg), was a stage performer and had an enormous influence on Bruce's career.[8]

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 USS Brooklyn (CL-40) fighting in Northern Africa; Palermo, Italy, in 1943; and Anzio, Italy, in 1944. In May 1945, after a comedic performance for his shipmates in which he was dressed in drag, his commanding officers became upset, he defiantly convinced his ship's medical officer that he was experiencing homosexual urges.[9] This led to his undesirable discharge in July 1945. 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".[10] 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.[11]

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 show business hopefuls who populated the city. One locale where they congregated was Hanson's, the diner where Bruce first met the comedian Joe Ancis,[12] who had a profound influence on Bruce's approach to comedy. Many of Bruce's later routines reflected his meticulous schooling at the hands of Ancis.[13] According to Bruce's biographer Albert Goldman, Ancis's humor involved stream-of-consciousness sexual fantasies and references to jazz.[14]

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, 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,[15] 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. Lenny did a bit inspired by Sid Caesar, "The Bavarian Mimic", featuring impressions of American movie stars (e.g., Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson).[16]


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 Bruce.[17] 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 his first three comedy albums.[18]

Bruce was a roommate of Buddy Hackett in the 1950s; the two appeared on the Patrice Munsel Show (1957–1958), calling their comedy duo the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players",[19] twenty 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 first night for what Variety headlined as "blue material"; this led to the theme of Bruce's first solo album on Berkeley-based Fantasy Records, The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce,[20] 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;[21] the 2016 biography of Perilli titled The Candy Butcher,[22] devotes a chapter to Perilli's ten-year collaboration with Bruce.

Bruce released a total of four albums of original material on Fantasy Records, with rants, comic routines, and satirical interviews on the themes that made him famous: jazz, moral philosophy, politics, patriotism, religion, law, race, abortion, drugs, the Ku Klux Klan, and Jewishness; these albums were later compiled and re-released as The Lenny Bruce Originals. Two later records were produced and sold by Bruce himself, including a 10-inch album of the 1961 San Francisco performances that started his legal troubles. Starting in the late 1950s, 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.

Branded a "sick comic", Bruce was essentially blacklisted from television, and when he did appear thanks to sympathetic fans like Hefner and Steve Allen, it was with great concessions to Broadcast Standards and Practices.[23] Jokes that might offend, like a bit 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?"[24]

On February 3, 1961, in the midst of a severe blizzard, Bruce gave a famous performance at Carnegie Hall in New York, it was recorded and later released as a three-disc set, titled The Carnegie Hall Concert.[full citation needed] In the liner notes, Albert Goldman described it as follows:[This quote needs a citation]

This was the moment that an obscure yet rapidly rising young comedian named Lenny Bruce chose to give one of the greatest performances of his career. ... The performance contained in this album is that of a child of the jazz age. Lenny worshiped the gods of Spontaneity, Candor and Free Association, he fancied himself an oral jazzman. His ideal was to walk out there like Charlie Parker, take that mike in his hand like a horn and blow, blow, blow everything that came into his head just as it came into his head with nothing censored, nothing translated, nothing mediated, until he was pure mind, pure head sending out brainwaves like radio waves into the heads of every man and woman seated in that vast hall. Sending, sending, sending, he would finally reach a point of clairvoyance where he was no longer a performer but rather a medium transmitting messages that just came to him from out there—from recall, fantasy, prophecy.

A point at which, like the practitioners of automatic writing, his tongue would outrun his mind and he would be saying things he didn't plan to say, things that surprised, delighted him, cracked him up—as if he were a spectator at his own performance!

Personal life[edit]

In 1951, Bruce met Honey Harlow, a stripper from Manila, Arkansas, they were married that same year, and Bruce was determined she end her work as a stripper.[25] The couple 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. 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.[26]

Bruce left Strip City in late 1954 and found work within the San Fernando Valley at a variety of strip clubs; as the master of ceremonies, he introduced 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 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" 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."[27]

Honey and Lenny's daughter Kitty Bruce was born in 1955,[28] he had an affair with the jazz singer Annie Ross in the late 1950s.[29] In 1959, Lenny's divorce from Honey was finalized.[30]

Legal troubles[edit]

Bruce at his arrest in 1961

Bruce's desire to help his wife cease working as a stripper led him 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, in 1951 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.[31]

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 said that he had made about $8,000 in three weeks, sending $2,500 to the leper colony and keeping the rest.

Obscenity arrests[edit]

On October 4, 1961, Bruce was arrested for obscenity[32] 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".[33] Although the jury acquitted him, other law enforcement agencies began monitoring his appearances, resulting in frequent arrests under charges of obscenity.

Bruce in 1963, after having been arrested in San Francisco

Bruce was arrested again in 1961, in Philadelphia, for drug possession and again in Los Angeles, two years later; the Los Angeles arrest took place in then-unincorporated West Hollywood, and the arresting officer was a young deputy named Sherman Block, who later became 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; the Hollywood charges were later dismissed.[34]

On December 5, 1962, Bruce was arrested on stage at the legendary Gate of Horn folk club in Chicago;[35] that same 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".[36]

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 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.[37]

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; 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.[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. Solomon later saw his conviction overturned; Bruce never had his conviction stricken.[39]

Later years[edit]

Poster for Bruce's last series of performances, which took place at The Fillmore in San Francisco on June 24 and 25, 1966

Despite his prominence as a comedian, Bruce appeared on network television only six times in his life.[40] In his later club performances, he 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. Bruce was banned outright from several U.S. cities.

In September 1962, his only visit to Australia caused a media storm—although, contrary to popular belief, he was not banned nor was he forced to leave the country. Bruce was booked for a two-week engagement at Aaron's Exchange Hotel, a small pub in central Sydney by the American-born, Australian-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 first show at 9 p.m. on September 6 was uneventful, but his second show at 11 p.m. led to a major public controversy. Bruce was heckled by audience members during his performance, 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?" Bruce's remark shocked some members of the audience and several walked out.

By the next day the local press had blown the incident up into a major controversy, with several Sydney papers denouncing Bruce as "sick" and one even illustrating their story with a retouched photograph appearing to show Bruce giving a fascist salute; the venue owners immediately canceled the rest of Bruce's performances, and he retreated to his Kings Cross hotel room. Local university students (including 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 [41] and an interview he was scheduled to give on Australian television was cancelled in advance by the Australian Broadcasting Commission.[42]

Bruce remained largely confined to his hotel, but eight days later gave his third and last Australian concert at the Wintergarden Theatre in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Although the theatre 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 recording of Bruce's 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. The tape was rediscovered in 2011 in the possession of Australian singer Sammy Gaha, who had acted as Bruce's chauffeur during his visit, and 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 afterwards.[43][44][45][46]

Increasing drug use also affected Bruce's health. 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, titled The Berkeley Concert; his performance here 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.[47] The performance was not remembered fondly by Bill Graham, whose memoir describes Bruce as "whacked out on amphetamine;" [48] Graham thought that Bruce finished his set emotionally disturbed. Zappa asked Bruce to sign his draft card, but the suspicious Bruce refused.[49]

At the request of Hefner and with the aid of Paul Krassner, Bruce wrote an autobiography. Serialized in Playboy in 1964 and 1965, this material was later published as the book How to Talk Dirty and Influence People.[50] During this time, Bruce also contributed a number of articles to Krassner's satirical magazine The Realist.[51]

Death and posthumous pardon[edit]

On August 3, 1966, a bearded Bruce was found dead in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home at 8825 W. Hollywood Blvd;[52] 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, bought the negatives of the photographs "to keep them from the press." The official cause of death was "acute morphine poisoning caused by an overdose." [53]

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. Over 500 people came to the service to 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 last line: "One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That's obscene".

His epitaph reads: "Beloved father – devoted son / Peace at last."

Bruce had one daughter.[54][55] At the time of his death, his girlfriend was comedian Lotus Weinstock.[56]

On December 23, 2003, thirty-seven years after Bruce's death, New York Governor George Pataki granted him a posthumous pardon for his obscenity conviction.[57][58]


    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.

    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.

—syndicated columnist Sydney J. Harris, November 5, 1969.[59]

Bruce was the subject of the 1974 biographical film Lenny, directed by Bob Fosse and starring Dustin Hoffman (in an Academy Award-nominated Best Actor role), and based on the Broadway stage play of the same name written by Julian Barry and starring Cliff Gorman in his 1972 Tony Award-winning role. In addition, the main character's editing of a fictionalized film version of Lenny was a major part of Fosse's own autobiopic, the 1979 Academy Award-nominated All That Jazz; Gorman again played the role of the stand-up comic.

The documentary Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth, directed by Robert B. Weide and narrated by Robert De Niro, was released in 1998. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature

In 2004, Comedy Central listed Bruce at number three on its list of the 100 greatest stand-ups of all time, placing above Woody Allen (4th) and below Richard Pryor (1st) and George Carlin (2nd).[60] Both comedians who ranked higher than Bruce considered him a major influence; Pryor said that hearing Bruce for the first time "changed my life,"[61] while Carlin was arrested along with Bruce after refusing to provide identification when police raided a Bruce performance.[62]

In popular culture[edit]


By others:

  • Barry, Julian. Lenny (play) (Grove Press, Inc. 1971)
  • Bruce, Honey. Honey: The Life and Loves of Lenny's Shady Lady (Playboy Press, 1976, with Dana Benenson)
  • Bruce, Kitty. The (almost) Unpublished Lenny Bruce (1984, Running Press) (includes a graphically spruced up reproduction of 'Stamp Help Out!')
  • Cohen, John, ed., compiler. The Essential Lenny Bruce (Ballantine Books, 1967)
  • Collins, Ronald and David Skover, The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall & Rise of an American Icon (Sourcebooks, 2002)[76]
  • DeLillo, Don. Underworld, (Simon and Schuster Inc., 1997)
  • Denton, Bradley. The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians, an award-winning collection of science fiction stories in which the title story has Lenny Bruce as one of the two protagonists.
  • Goldman, Albert, with Lawrence Schiller. Ladies and Gentlemen—Lenny Bruce!! (Random House, 1974)
  • Goldstein, Jonathan. Lenny Bruce Is Dead (Coach House Press, 2001)
  • Josepher, Brian. What the Psychic Saw (Sterlinghouse Publisher, 2005)
  • Kofsky, Frank. Lenny Bruce: The Comedian as Social Critic & Secular Moralist (Monad Press, 1974)
  • Kringas, Damian. Lenny Bruce: 13 Days In Sydney (Independence Jones Guerilla Press, Sydney, 2010) A study of Bruce's ill-fated September 1962 tour down under.
  • Marciniak, Vwadek P., Politics, Humor and the Counterculture: Laughter in the Age of Decay (New York etc., Peter Lang, 2008).
  • Marmo, Ronnie, with Jason M. Burns. I'm Not a Comedian, I'm Lenny Bruce (Play directed by Joe Mantegna, 2017)
  • Smith, Valerie Kohler. Lenny (novelization based on the Barry-scripted/Fosse-directed film) (Grove Press, Inc., 1974)
  • Thomas, William Karl. Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet [77] Memoir and pictures from Bruce's principal collaborator. First printing, Archon Books, 1989; second printing, Media Maestro, 2002; Japanese edition, DHC Corp. Tokyo, 2001.


Year Title Role Notes
1953 Walking My Baby Back Home Writer Uncredited
Dance Hall Racket Vincent Directed by Phil Tucker
1954 Dream Follies
The Rocket Man Screenplay Directed by Oscar Rudolph
1955 The Leather Jacket Actor / writer 20 minutes of a feature film project that lost funding and was never completed
1959 One Night Stand: The World of Lenny Bruce Himself / writer TV special
1967 The Lenny Bruce Performance Film Himself / writer Filmed in San Francisco 1966, includes Thank You Mask Man, VHS 1992 / DVD 2005 / download
1971 Thank You Mask Man Voice of 'The Lone Ranger' / writer / director Animated short film by John Magnuson Associates
Dynamite Chicken Himself Sketch comedy film starring Richard Pryor
1972 Lenny Bruce Without Tears Himself Documentary directed by Fred Baker, VHS 1992 / DVD 2005 / download 2013
1974 Lenny Biography directed by Bob Fosse and starring Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Hoffman was nominated for:
  • Academy award for Best Actor
  • BAFTA award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Golden Globe award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1984 A Toast to Lenny Bruce Himself TV tribute available on LaserDisc / VHS
1998 Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth Himself Academy award nominated documentary directed by Robert B. Weide, narrated by Robert De Niro
2011 Looking for Lenny Himself Documentary featuring interviews with Mort Sahl, Phyllis Diller, Lewis Black, Richard Lewis, Sandra Bernhard, Jonathan Winters, Robert Klein, Shelley Berman and others, North American Premiere Toronto Jewish Film Festival May 2011, screened at Paris Beat Generation Days April 2011



Year Title Label Format Notes
1958 Interviews of Our Times Fantasy Records LP / LP 1969 / CD 1991 / download 2 tracks feature Henry Jacobs & Woody Leifer, liner notes by Horace Sprott III & Sleepy John Estes
1959 The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce LP / LP / 8-track 1984 / CD 1991, 2012 & 2017 / download 2010 Liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason
1960 I Am Not a Nut, Elect Me! (Togetherness) LP / CD 1991 / download
1961 American LP / CD 1991, 2013 & 2016 / download
1964 Lenny Bruce Is Out Again Lenny Bruce LP / download 2004 Self-published live recordings from 1958–1963
1966 Lenny Bruce Is Out Again Philles Records Totally different version PHLP-4010, produced by Phil Spector

Posthumous releases[edit]

Year Title Label Format Notes
1966 Why Did Lenny Bruce Die? Capitol Records LP / LP 1974 / download 2014 Interviews and recordings by Lawrence Schiller, Lionel Olay and Richard Warren Lewis
1967 Lenny Bruce United Artists Records LP / LP 1986 Recorded February 4, 1961, edited, reissued as In Concert At Carnegie Hall
1968 The Essential Lenny Bruce Politics Douglas Records LP / download 2007 Clips edited together with archival audio for historical context
1969 The Berkeley Concert Bizarre Records/Reprise Records 2×LP / 2×LP 1971 / cassette 1991 / CD 1989, 2004 & 2017 / download 2005 Recorded December 12, 1965, produced by John Judnich and Frank Zappa
1970 To Is A Preposition; Come Is A Verb Douglas Records LP / LP 1971, 1975 & 2004 / CD 2000 & 2002 / download 2005 & 2007 Recorded 1961–1964, LP reissues titled What I Was Arrested For
1971 Live at the Curran Theater Fantasy Records 3×LP / 2×CD 1999 & 2017 / download 2006 Recorded November 19, 1961
1972 Carnegie Hall United Artists Records 3×LP / 2×CD 1995 / download 2015 Recorded February 4, 1961, unabridged
1974 The Law, Language And Lenny Bruce Warner-Spector Records LP / cassette Produced by Phil Spector
1992 Lenny Bruce Rhino Entertainment CD / CD 2005 Soundtrack From "The Lenny Bruce Performance Film" and reissued as Live in San Francisco 1966
1995 Live 1962: Busted! Viper's Nest Records CD / download 2010 & 2018 Recorded December 4, 1962 at Chicago Gate of Horn, reissued as Dirty Words - Live 1962 & The Man That Shocked Britain: Gate of Horn, Chicago, December 1962
2004 Let the Buyer Beware Shout! Factory 6×CD / book Previously unreleased material, produced by Hal Willner


Year Title Label Format Notes
1962 The Best Of Lenny Bruce Fantasy Records LP / cassette 1990 / LP 1995
1972 Thank You Masked Man LP / CD 2004 & 2005 Enhanced CD with Thank You Masked Man short film
1975 The Real Lenny Bruce 2×LP Gatefold with inserts and poster
1982 Unexpurgated : The Best Of Lenny Bruce LP
1991 The Lenny Bruce Originals Volume 1 CD / CD 1992 & 1997 / download 2006 / CD 2013 Reissue of first and second albums
The Lenny Bruce Originals Volume 2 Reissue of third and fourth albums
2011 Classic Album Collection Golden Stars 3×CD 2012 First 4 albums with 4 bonus tracks
2013 Great Audio Moments, Vol. 33: Lenny Bruce Global Journey download 22 tracks, 105 minutes
Great Audio Moments, Vol. 33: Lenny Bruce Pt. 1 9 tracks, 39 minutes
Great Audio Moments, Vol. 33: Lenny Bruce Pt. 2 9 tracks, 43 minutes
2016 Four Classic Albums Plus Bonus Tracks Real Gone Music 4×CD First 4 albums with bonus tracks


Year Title Label Format Notes
2000 Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Mind – The Rise & Reckless Fall Of Lenny Bruce Chrome Dreams CD / CD 2001 & 2005 / CD / download 2006 / CD 2017 Biography read by Robin Clifford, stand up by Lenny and voices of people who knew him.
2002 The Trials of Lenny Bruce Sourcebooks MediaFusion CD / book Features excerpts of Lenny's never-before-released trial tapes
2016 Lenny Bruce: How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography Hachette Audio download / CD 2017 Read by Ronnie Marmo, Preface by Lewis Black & Foreword by Howard Reich

Tribute albums[edit]

Year Title Label Format Notes
1972 Jarl Kulle: Som Lenny Bruce - Varför Gömmer Du Dig I Häcken? Polar Music 2×LP Swedish actor performing Lenny, title translates to Like Lenny Bruce - Why are you hiding in the hedge?

See also[edit]


  1. ^ August, Melissa (September 5, 2005). "Died". Time. Retrieved August 3, 2008. 78, ex-stripper who in 1951 married the soon-to-be-famous comedian Lenny Bruce; in Honolulu. Though the pair split in 1957 (they had a daughter, Kitty), the sometime actress who called herself "Lenny's Shady Lady" helped successfully lobby New York Governor George Pataki to pardon Bruce
  2. ^ "Lenny Bruce". nndb.com. 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  3. ^ Kifner, John (December 24, 2003). "No Joke! 37 Years After Death Lenny Bruce Receives Pardon - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  4. ^ "Lenny Bruce, Uninhibited Comic, Found Dead in Hollywood Home". Nytimes.com. August 4, 1966. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  5. ^ Watkins, Mel; Weber, Bruce (June 24, 2008). "George Carlin, Comic Who Chafed at Society and Its Constraints, Dies at 71". The New York Times.
  6. ^ The 50 Best Stand-up Comics of All Time. Rollingstone.com, retrieved February 15, 2017.
  7. ^ Albert Goldman; Lawrence Schiller (1991). Ladies and Gentlemen: Lenny Bruce!!. Penguin Books. p. 107. ISBN 9780140133622. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  8. ^ Thomas, William Karl (December 1, 1989). Lenny Bruce: the making of a prophet. Archon Books. p. 47. ISBN 9780208022370. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  9. ^ A.H. Goldman. Ladies and Gentlemen: Lenny Bruce!! (New York: Random House, 1971), p. 91.
  10. ^ "Lenny Bruce's Gay Naval Ruse: Unearthed documents detail comedian's discharge", TheSmokingGun.com, August 31, 2010
  11. ^ ""Playboy's Penthouse" Episode #1.1 (TV Episode 1959)". Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  12. ^ Driven, Joey. "Joe Acis: A Brief Biography". Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  13. ^ Goldman, p. 109.
  14. ^ Goldman, p. 105-108.
  15. ^ "Lenny Bruce". Reference.com. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  16. ^ Schwartz, Ben. "The Comedy Behind the Tragedy". Chicago Reader. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  17. ^ The Candy Butcher (2016) p. 152.
  18. ^ Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet (1989)[permanent dead link], p. 54-63.
  19. ^ "Episode 966: Sandy Hackett". WTF with Marc Maron. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet (1989)[permanent dead link] pp. 276–229.
  21. ^ Thomas, meta tags by William Karl Thomas; web design by William Karl. "Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet". www.mediamaestro.net. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  22. ^ "The Candy Butcher (2016)". Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  23. ^ "The Museum of Television & Radio Presents Two Five-Letter Words: Lenny Bruce". The Paley Center for Media. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  24. ^ Lenny Bruce on YouTube
  25. ^ Kottler, Jeffrey A., Divine Madness: Ten Stories of Creative Struggle (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006), 221.
  26. ^ Goldman, p. 124.
  27. ^ Goldman, p. 133.
  28. ^ "Chronology – The 50s". The Official Lenny Bruce Site. Mystic Liquid. Archived from the original on November 13, 2011. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  29. ^ Gavin, James (October 3, 1993). "A Free-Spirited Survivor Lands on Her Feet". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  30. ^ "Lenny Bruce". NNDB. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  31. ^ "Babe Ruth and Brother Matthias". Chatterfromthedugout.com. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  32. ^ "Lenny Bruce – Chronology". Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  33. ^ Bruce, Lenny. "To is a Preposition, Come is a Verb". The Trials of Lenny Bruce. University of Missouri-Kansas City. Missing or empty |url= (help)
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