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How to Talk Dirty and Influence People: An Autobiography

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,172 ratings  ·  195 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."

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Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Da Capo Press (first published 1965)
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Crystal
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
Coleman
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
Gabriel
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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
...more
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.
Mark André
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, biography
Funny & Pointed! Social Commentary. ...more
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.
Sophia
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
Terry
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
Michael
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
Cameron
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
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.
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
Amy
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
Heidi
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.
Dmitriy Rozhkov
Dropped the halfway through.
Kayla
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.
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.
Davida
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
...more
Ginevra
Mar 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
yellowbird
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.
Carolyn
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
P
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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."
Kristina
2018 review:

I abandoned this because I read it already when I was going through my Lenny Bruce phase. I'm sure I enjoyed it then, so why repeat my reading? My reading list this year is way too long for repeats I'm not sure I want to repeat.
Jeffrey
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not as funny as I would have liked. Dry read, despite the fact that Lenny Bruce lead a fascinating life.
Victoria
Kinda meh. Celebrities writing books is kind of hit or miss, I think.
Steven
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Innauguration Day 2017 with REM's lyric "Lenny Bruce is not afraid" stuck in my head brought me here.
Jay
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s a cliché to say that mid-century America was an entirely different country from what it is today. Take, for example, the case of comedian Lenny Bruce. He was a popular stand-up comic who sometimes used obscene words in his routine. That was a time when using the word “cocksucker” on a stage could land you in court on obscenity charges because if audience members heard it spoken in public, regardless of the context, men might feel inclined to engage in acts of homosexual oral sex. Remember, ...more
Christopher Roth
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm surprised it took me so long to get around to reading this, and I've never read the thick posthumous biography which the introduction-writer to this volume scorns and dismisses. The first third to a half of "How to Talk Dirty" is riveting and hilarious--exactly what you wanted to know about Lenny's upbringing, his family, his cultural milieu, his military service, etc., all the way up to his marriage to Honey, more or less, and all of it was, to me, new material and new information. This par ...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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