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How to Talk Dirty and Influence People

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4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  1,442 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography
xv, 188 pp. "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People is an autobiography by Lenny Bruce, an American satirist and comedian, who died in 1966 at age 40 of a drug overdose.At the request of Hugh Hefner and with the aid of Paul Krassner, Bruce wrote the work in serialized format for Playboy in 1964 and 1965. Shortly there
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Paperback, 188 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by Touchstone (first published 1965)
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Community Reviews

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Crystal
May 25, 2012 Crystal rated it it was amazing
This was a rare book left behind by the overweight and greasy lead singer of a band I booked once when I used to do that. I read it immediately and furiously like a masturbating teenager adopting Bruce's jargon as my own and made many decisions based on what I thought Lenny Bruce would do. When those decisions went up in flames I thought to myself; "well, fuck, it could be worse, I coulda been Lenny Bruce". Reading this book at times made feel overwhelmingly dirty, disgusted and guilty (like por ...more
Gabriel
May 13, 2012 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE who wants to know why comedians care about Bruce
There is an ebb and flow to the tale of classic comics. People are brought up on a basis similar to comets passing through the atmosphere. Someone dies and the comet appears a little quicker ("X lived in the shadow of Y who had paved the way for X to do their most famous bits ...").

Lenny Bruce's comet comes every 5 or ten years, it seems. He's been labeled a martyr and a genius and one of the most important comedians to ever come across a stage. Just a couple of weeks ago, another website was lo
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Matt


I love Lenny Bruce and I respect what he was able to accomplish, regarding free speech and the position of the satirist in the modern world. Every comic- every. single. one.- who has come after is in some sense trailing in his wake.

I got really into reading this in high school. I relished noticing that other people got into it, too, and saw what happened when the American legal structure decided to try and take him down. A landmark case for defenders of free speech and dissent.

Only trouble is: a
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Michael
Sep 25, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
In this politically correct version of the world Lenny Bruce is just as offensive as he was back when he was being busted by the fuzz for being obscene. You see Lenny is an icon that paved the way for greats like Carlin, Pryor, Hicks, and even Sam Kinison. Words themselves aren't dirty. It's the image that they create. Lenny was ahead of his time and he paid dearly for it. It's unfortunate that Mr. Bruce doesn't get the respect that he deserves. He changed the way that people approached comedy a ...more
Cameron
Oct 18, 2014 Cameron rated it liked it
This book starts off well but toward the end slips into a mess of legal rhetoric that became dull so I'm giving it a 3 star rating. But there are valuable lessons to be derived here; such as what it is to be a jew vs. a gentile, the power of words both written and spoken under those people in power who are in charge of censorship, how sticking your neck out in society does not always go over well, and why it is important to remain stoic and objective in a climate of religion vs. politics.
Ned Rifle
Dec 02, 2012 Ned Rifle rated it liked it
An entertaining book for anyone already kindly disposed towards Lenny though the only moment that it really teeters into (his usual) greatness is when he, disguised as a priest in order to collect money for a fake charity (fun guy), passes a Rabbi, who nods at him and he is forced to wonder whether they are always doing this, like bus drivers.
Procyon Lotor
Jan 27, 2014 Procyon Lotor rated it really liked it
Autobiografia di Lenny Bruce Autobiografia di Lenny Bruce, noto oggi per soli due motivi, la celebrazione che ne fece Bob Fosse nel secco film Lenny (lo interpreta D. Hoffman, IMHO una delle sue migliori interpretazioni) e l'essere stato l'ispiratore riconosciuto di Daniele Luttazzi in Italia. Il resistibile successo di Lenny fra gli anni 50 e 60 si bas� sullo scandalizzare a oltranza. Tecnica infantile che ha sempre (contro i muri solidi) un discreto successo. Se poi teniamo conto dell'America ...more
Ginevra
Mar 07, 2009 Ginevra rated it liked it
Recommends it for: yes
Recommended to Ginevra by: Dan
Lenny Bruce is a cultural icon, and like most cultural icons, I knew nothing about him before picking up this book. As it turns out, he was arrested multiple times for his comedy act, in which he pokes fun at Catholics, WWII, and himself. The books meanders through stories about his life and larger cultural issues, which makes it an interesting read. It also demonstrates what the limits of free speech in the 50's-60's which, as the bookcover points out, is still relevant today.

I gave it 4 stars,
...more
Riley Vermilya
Jan 04, 2014 Riley Vermilya rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Ok. So this guy is a cultural icon. I consider myself well read and in touch with comedy and the entertainment world past and present, yet I had no clue who LB was. When I asked my mother if she knew who he was she said matter of fact, "He was a comedian/entertainer in the 50's and 60's and was a druggy." Ok...sounds like a fun read...NOT.

I did not race through this and love every minute of it. But, I did appreciate how Lenny broke the June and Ward pristine barriers of the 50's and spoke his t
...more
Carolyn
Nov 12, 2016 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This new edition of Lenny Bruce's autobiography still bites, shocks, and provokes some nervous laughter and some belly laughs. I hadn't read it before, although I was a fan and saw one of his live performances many years ago. Much of the hypocrisy he pokes fun at is still around, and many of his lines are still hilarious. He changed comedy forever, and paid a high price for doing so.
Phil
Jan 06, 2009 Phil rated it it was amazing
This book strongly influenced me. Lenny Bruce is an American icon who died for free speech. Read his own (hysterically funny) words and know his story in this age of political correctness.

"When you take away the right to say "fuck," you take away the right to say "fuck the government."
Victoria
Jan 14, 2014 Victoria rated it liked it
Kinda meh. Celebrities writing books is kind of hit or miss, I think.
Douglas Florian
Nov 25, 2012 Douglas Florian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Page for page, line for line, semi-colon for semi-colon, the funniest book I've ever read.
David Smith
Jan 09, 2016 David Smith rated it really liked it
How to Talk Dirty and Influence People is the biography of alt-comedy patron saint Lenny Bruce who, until his death in 1966, incited both adoration and outrage for his frank, profanity-laced, taboo stand-up routine. Before I picked up this book, I knew of Lenny Bruce only by reputation. However, having heard him lauded by so many comedy fans, I thought this might be a worthwhile read and decided to give it a look. In the end, I was not disappointed—this is legitimately on of the most fascinating ...more
Kim
May 13, 2017 Kim rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book!
Paul Riches
Feb 11, 2013 Paul Riches rated it really liked it
How To Talk About Lenny Bruce And Influence People

Lenny Bruce was one of the most controversial comedians of all time. But not a lot of people nowadays seems to remember him.

Is that because so much that is censored today is freely talked about tomorrow?

This is part of my takeaway from this autobiography, originally a series of articles in Playboy magazine, which starts one way and ends in another.

How To Talk Dirty And Influence People is a very R rated book written by Lenny Bruce and begins with
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Steven
Mar 15, 2017 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Innauguration Day 2017 with REM's lyric "Lenny Bruce is not afraid" stuck in my head brought me here.
Eric Jay Sonnenschein
Nov 04, 2011 Eric Jay Sonnenschein rated it really liked it
I received a copy of "How to Talk Dirty..." from, of all people, my English professor and thesis advisor at Amherst, Professor Bill Pritchard. It was an enlightened gift, and since I was going into the Peace Corps, I would have a lot of time and solitude in which to absorb it. I had ambivalent feelings about Lenny Bruce. I related to the pain of his personal life, his broken home, and poverty, his outsider status and hatred of authority, which ultimately led to his dishonorable discharge from th ...more
Stephanie
Feb 24, 2013 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
**Spoiler Alert!!**

It isn't hard to understand why Lenny Bruce was once the greatest comic in America. He was just beginning his career when he wrote this book.

It not only chronicles his early life as a comic but also shows the evolution of his nightclub routines. One piece at a time, you can see how Bruce's upbeat approach to life as a young man.

Even after his first wife was run over in a horrible accident he managed to rebound and find some solace that became a strength. Even after he went thr
...more
Mornblade Keltoislave
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dave Keays
Oct 27, 2012 Dave Keays rated it really liked it
This morning I showed someone this old book from the back of my closet. She said "he had brains and didn't need to be vulgar". Well, maybe. But maybe he was pushing an envelope that needed to be pushed. Our complacency and willingness to accept the authorities without question was even more vulgar than his chosen topics and play on words.

Some of the reviews here questioned the truthfulness of many stories in this book. But I don't question the ideas. Did one of my heroes of past, Hedy Lamar, rea
...more
Kevin
Aug 09, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, humor
what can i say? it’s Lenny Bruce. iconoclast and boogeyman of censorship. most of his material seems tame by today’s standards in comedy but there are still a lot of things he said that i have to think would shock people. back in the day, i can only speculate about how he was taken. holy crap.

his autobiography was enlightening to me, someone who had only ever seen some of his routines but didn’t know much about the man apart from his pushing the boundaries of obscenity. i had no idea how critica
...more
Aggy
Aug 07, 2013 Aggy rated it it was amazing
So I never got a chance to know who's Lenny Bruce before I read this book. My best friend recommends me this book since he thought I'm an aspiring comic--or comedian--which I'm not.
But Lenny Bruce is an iconic person. He's brave and crazy for his era, he dared to do everything the other way around. From the first time I read this book, I felt him. Part of me realizing this is not only an autobiography, it's also his deepest thought. He then proceeds to tell the reader his life in a comical way;
...more
Chris
Dec 22, 2007 Chris rated it really liked it
When you think about comedians, especially stand up comedians, a few come immediately to mind which seem to push the limits of comedy and humor by challenging social constructs. Eddie Murphy was one such comedian who in the hay day of his stand up pushed the boundaries of racial humor, suddenly making it acceptable to have a laugh at our own prejudices, and the real tragedy of the civil rights movement that emerged in the late 60's and early 70's. Lenny Bruce is the "godfather" of this type of h ...more
Mark
Jul 25, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, memoir
Well! This book is where I happened to pick up a good deal of my own philosophy of life, beginning at age twelve. Precociously, as I happened to have parents who most fortunately were very lassiez-faire as to my own reading habits. I doubt I'd have changed my own personal opinions on war and the values of society if not for encountering Lenny. Sure, the title obviously drew me (and several of my adolescent pals) to this book originally, but once inside...
Bruce was a major critic of society's hy
...more
Carrie
Feb 25, 2013 Carrie rated it it was amazing
I personally loved this book. I recognized that there were some mixed reviews about it because of the politics-oriented last third of the book, but having read such play-by-play court hearings as the PMRC ordeal, I have become accustomed to this sort of reading. Lenny Bruce is an incredibly articulate, satirical, and often outright hilarious writer. Of course that was his job, but it is one thing to make that stuff sound good on stage and a complete other thing to make hilarity apparent in a boo ...more
David
Jan 28, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biografía de un cómico stand-up atípico. Azote de la moralina entre los 60 y 70, y que ahora mismo haría su agosto. Porque Lenny se cagaría en todos nuestros muertos. Mira que hay que ser gilipollas para tapar los pechos a esculturas en Roma ante la visita de un clérigo iraní, no vaya a ser que se disguste y sin embargo no decir ni pío a que en Irán se carguen a la gente por mera sospecha de que sea gay. Gilipollas todos.
Son soberbias las transcripciones de sus juicios. Sabía diferenciar mejor q
...more
Jason
Feb 07, 2017 Jason rated it liked it
Sometimes funny and always provocative, I enjoyed this back when I read it. I hope young people will still find their way to books and ideas like this even if some of it may seem silly by the time they're middle aged.
Robert
Jun 29, 2008 Robert rated it really liked it
Read this a long time ago and with very little exposure to the author's work. What little I had heard was impressive. It is a permanent blot on our society that the bluenoses where allowed to effectively hound him to death. It is interesting that this has not occurred again despite onslaught of many more and truly filthier comics whose work shocks briefly but seldom has any of the redeeming intellectual quality or actual wit found in Lenny Bruce. (The late Sam Kinison comes to mind, not much to ...more
Lorraine
Sep 26, 2014 Lorraine rated it really liked it
I've heard so many things about Lenny Bruce. I saw the movie some months ago and liked Dustin Hoffman's portrayal, but I really loved the book. It game me insight on who Lenny Bruce was. There was a lot of intelligence in there. I think If I were around the same age as Lenny Bruce, I'd have dismissed him as vulgar and not funny, but reading about him, I get a deeper perspective. I love reading autobiographies on people to get more dimension from them and this helped me flesh him out. It was also ...more
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Lenny Bruce, born Leonard Alfred Schneider, was a controversial American stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and satirist of the 1950s and 1960s. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was also controversial, eventually leading to the first posthumous pardon in New York history.
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“I am influenced by every second of my waking hour. ” 24 likes
“There is only what is and that's it. What should be is a dirty lie.” 19 likes
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