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How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,766 ratings  ·  262 reviews
During the course of a career that began in the late 1940s, Lenny Bruce challenged the sanctity of organized religion and other societal and political conventions; he widened the boundaries of free speech. Critic Ralph Gleason said, "So many taboos have been lifted and so many comics have rushed through the doors Lenny opened. He utterly changed the world of comedy."

Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Da Capo Press (first published 1965)
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 ·  2,766 ratings  ·  262 reviews

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May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
Millenial left-leaning cucks such as myself are often credited for creating and proliferating the “Politically Correct Society” we supposedly find ourselves in, and I hate to perpetuate my own stereotype, but I must say I take offense to that. You see there’s a large sect of people who think we have something of an epidemic on our hands: a generation of coddled pussies. They believe we would rather live in a world of “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” than think critically or allow our ideas t ...more
Mark André
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, humor
Funny & Pointed! Social Commentary.
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Douglas Florian
Nov 25, 2012 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. ...more
Sep 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-bought
The legal stuff is not that much fun to read. On the other hand, his writings on the standup comic world is pretty great. And he’s funny!

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
Molly Sanchez
Dec 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow what a funny, absurdly relevant book. I could go on about this book but mostly I’m distracted by how much I want to go back in time and fuck the shit out of Lenny Bruce.
I’m sure he’d have the review end no other way.
Feb 06, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lenny Bruce, one of the prominent stand up comedians during the 50s and 60s, has been on the list of people that I want to learn more about for some years now. Hearing his old performances, there is something about him that interests you immediately. Something so honest and unhinged, that calling it an performance does not feel quite right. Of course, this quality got him in trouble countless times. While Bruce himself is what drew me to this book, an unexpectedly interesting part of it, is the ...more
Lauren LoGiudice
When you read this book you can hear Lenny Bruce's voice reverberating in your head. It brought me into the mind and comedy of a comedy inspiration.

Lenny was tragic as he was funny and I certainly saw that in these pages. It's a quick read that will make you a bigger fan of Lenny Bruce!
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is essentially a Lenny Bruce skit about his life and I love it. Very funny, VERY dirty, and an amazing read
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Readers, it's not a stand-up comedy routine, it's an autobiography, written by a satirist with a keen eye for hypocritical social mores. This is the historical account of an underdog who rose to set the standard for a new generation of thinkers, writers, and comedians, employing social commentary as a form of protest. An advocate for freedom of speech, Lenny Bruce told the truth as he saw it and was persecuted--and prosecuted--for obscenity. There's humor in that. Not the kind that makes you lau ...more
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 02, 2022 rated it really liked it
"an honorary doctorate of letters to the man who
won fame using them four at a time."
Rachel Nagle
My respect for his brilliance and ahead-of-his-time progressive nature and quick wit, is separate from my sporadic boredom with the autobiography.

I enjoyed the chapters about his arrest and court cases most.

I can now separate Lenny Bruce, from the fictionalized version of him I over romanticized on TV… which is probably healthy.
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. ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lenny Bruce is a major character on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel so I was curious. They use his material verbatim in the show.
Ami Boughter
Oct 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
“Let me tell you the truth. The truth is what is. What should be is a fantasy, a terrible, terrible lie that someone gave the people long ago."

The last season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel doesn't come out for a while and I don't like surprises, so I picked up the memoir of the actual Lenny Bruce. It was funny, as one would expect, but kind of heart-breaking too. I'm a sucker for a doomed story. I guess I forget that comedians aren't that different from writers, just some lonely folks trying to c
Carl Waluconis
I read this book so long ago that I decided to revisit and read it again. The best parts are the bits, probably from some of his routines, which still cause laughing out loud. However, some of the material is dated, but valuable historically to show how times change. The justice system then was so bothered by him that they hounded him as badly as the Internet can now hound people. He provides court records that show him caught in a kind of theatre of the absurd over what one could or couldn't le ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bruce was really the original shock comic. The things he discussed on stage just hadn’t been done before him. He talked about sex (a lot), drugs (a lot), and rallied against war and our government. He was arrested multiple times, debuted reentry to the UK due to his previous stand up routines there, and was the original “obscene” comic. While his some of his comedy may be rather tame by today’s standards, it can still shock. His memoir is no different. For those of us 50 and 60 years removed fro ...more
Jackie Kelly
Having listened to some podcasts about Lenny Bruce and of course his likeness and influence in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, I was excited to read this. I picked the audiobook for this one since I had a particularly long drive. I really enjoyed the first 3/4ths of it. I think he made a lot of interesting points and commentary but the end kind of went off the rails for me. A talented visionary that was lost too soon.
India McCarty
Jun 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, comedy
this sent me into absolute FITS of laughter and granted that might have been b/c of the pot but this was just so very stupidly brilliantly funny
Dmitriy Rozhkov
Dropped the halfway through.
Victor Cypert
Oct 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing introduction to the life of the father of standup comedy, this book reveals the depths of Bruce’s struggles against persecution and his own drug addiction. A must for anyone wanting to write comedy or perform standup, this is the definitive book by the legendary master himself.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't follow comics and only heard about Lenny Bruce from the show, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel. I'm really glad I did because I loved this book. As he did on stage, Lenny snaps you back into a harsh reality with his funny but truthful words- it's like a slap in the face. I love it and I wish he were still around to see the improvement in societal norms. But I mean, not that much better. ...more
Kristy Leconte
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, favorites
Smart Man! I would say before his time, but without Lenny we wouldn't have the great comics we have now. ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: jewish, funny, classic, memoir
Proud to say that I bought this book at City Lights in San Francisco.
There is a lot in this book that has shaped popular culture in ways that most of us under 70 or 80 don't really recognize or understand. Further research is needed.
I only gave this book three stars because the court transcripts were boring. Not sure why so much was included.

p. 30
"My first laugh. It was like the flash that I have heard morphine addicts describe, a warm sensual blanket that comes after a cold, sick rejection. I w
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,
Riley Vermilya
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
Feb 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-awful
Reading this book is just like watching a history of Lenny Bruce's standup act. It's funny and interesting in the beginning and then becomes bogged down in boring legal issues towards the end. Was he victimised by people in power? Sure, I can see that. But I don't need to read a verbatim account of the many trials. That stuff just doesn't interest me. My opinion - read the first half of the book and then give it to a Lenny Bruce fan. ...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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