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The Essential Lenny Bruce

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  256 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Since his death in 1966, Lenny Bruce has been lauded as a great satirist "in the tradition of Swift," as a great parodist, a moralist, a preacher, even as a shaman exorcizing the demons of our modern society. Whatever Bruce was, he was above all an incredibly funny man with an extraordinarily original and fertile comic imagination.

Transcribed from hundreds of hours of tape
Hardcover, 243 pages
Published 1970 by Douglas Books (first published January 1st 1967)
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Petra Eggs
I have a story which I think really shows the essential Lenny Bruce although it's not in this, or any other book.

I was editing one of Jay Landesman's many manuscripts at the time and we were talking about his St Louis nightclub, the Crystal Palace and how Barbra Streisand got discovered. Jay told me that Barbra who was only 18, had been acting like a madwoman, coming in dressed up like a babushka with a scarf over her head and going from table to table giving the customers apples from her basket
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, comedy
For years I've picked through this book, and have probably read it in its entirety more than once, but I decided recently to read it through 'properly', front to back, and really absorb it.

When I was first reading this book, the big Michael Richards/heckler thing happened and my view of it was that Richards was not only being gravely inappropriate, but it was a Lenny Bruce bit. It's right in the front of this book, and all I heard was Lenny Bruce's bit, and I wondered if anyone else, amidst the
Sam "The Record Man"
I don't think you can love the first amendment and not love Lenny Bruce.
Thomas Armstrong
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a real hoot - a game of a book. I often get more out of reading a play than watching it, and these priceless monologues give me the opportunity to really study what LB was trying to do, and didn't distract me from all the nonverbal stuff he would do in his stand-up act, and also all the hype surrounding his legend. You can really understand from reading these monologues that Bruce was a social critic of the highest calibre; that he served a function in society by pointing to what c ...more
Erik Graff
Feb 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bruce fans
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff
Shelves: drama
Dad had this book on the living room shelves and I read it in high school. Later, in college, a friend, Steve Slatin, played a bunch of LPs he had of Lenny Bruce performances. Since then, not that long ago, I saw a video of several performances. Frankly, I think I was too young to appreciate his work as much a persons of my father's generation did. The concept of obscenity was virtually nonexistent during my upbringing--unless, of course, you extend it to such things as the military adventurism ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This really gives you insight into the original comic who broke the barrier on using 4-letter words in public. He sacrificed at least 70% of his income, plus a fair degree of freedom to stand up for free speech/expression! When you read his routines, in context, you really wonder what all the fuss was about. & you learn how he accepted how there was religious bias at work with the police, prosecution, & judges. . . but he never discarded having respect for those with the difficult job of ...more
Mar 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is all transcripts of live stuff. I think if someone had never heard Lenny Bruce do his stand-up this book would be confusing. Many of the impressions are written out phonetically which is a pain in the ass to read. Also a Yiddish dictionary might help. It just makes a lot more sense to actually be able hear all this. Besides all that this book is good.
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedian-books
I decided to read more comedian books this year. This is a collection of a number of Bruce's bits. My high school debate coach had a copy of this in his office and I remember leafing through it a couple of times. I'll admit some of this was excruciatingly dated, but a number of it was funny and still rings true. Worthwhile reading.
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great collection of Lenny's skits, shtick, rants and philosophisings transcribed and indexed by subject. Particularly useful if you're one of those who occasionally has issues deciphering the great comic's Long Island accent, not to mention those Yiddish phrases you that can drive a klutz verklempt as a meshugeneh kolboynik, dig?.
David Ward
The Essential Lenny Bruce by John Cohen (Douglas Books 1970)(nonfiction). The collected standup routines of Lenny Bruce without censure. He was the Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy of the fifties. My rating: 7/10, finished 1978.
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever heard an old L.B. recording, you'll know the guy was: 1) clearly on drugs and 2) not a very good stage comedian (he rambles foreeeeeever). This book edits all his brilliant ideas and monologues into a couple hundred pages and is the best way to really experience his humor.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think you had to be there. The page doesn't come alive without Bruce's voice. Some of it seems so dated and yet the last few chapters,10 through 16, were excellent.
Michael X
Sep 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and genius.
Chris Feldman
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Lenny was crucified by J. Ogre Hoover for doing the kind of schtick that made Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy millionaires.
Alex Labant
Very period
This man's crazy. It's entertaining though, imagining how people must have reacted to him when he was saying all these insane things...
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lenny s own comedy routines and sketches in one volume .
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Mark Woodland
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Phil Mccahill
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Richard Power
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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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“Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it.” 43 likes
“…Catholicism is like Howard Johnson, and what they have are these franchises and they give all these people different franchises in the different countries but they have one government, and when you buy the Howard Johnson franchise you can apply it to the geography - whatever's cool for that area - and then you, you know, pay the bread to the main office.” 6 likes
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