Lenny Bruce

From Zappa Wiki Jawaka
Revision as of 00:29, 3 June 2005 by Dunk (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

Born: ((Leonard Alfred Schneider) October 13, 1925, Mineola, New York.

Died: August 3, 1966, Hollywood

Lenny Bruce is name-checked on the cover of "Freak Out!" (1966) under the heading "These People Have Contributed Materially In Many Ways To Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them". He is also mentioned in "The Real Frank Zappa Book" (1989).

Bruce is discharged from the army for wearing women's clothing in 1945. He held various jobs while studying acting in New York. An appearance on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts television show (October 1948), performing standard comedy routine, brought him national attention. The next few years were spent - as a stand-up nightclub entertainer - at numerous comedy clubs across the country refining what became known as "sick comedy" routines: his scatalogical and sardonic humour was alternatively called obscene and "radically relevant". In 1959 appeared on the Steve Allen TV show reaching a national audience.

Bruce was arrested in Philadelphia on September 29, 1961 for possession of narcotics, a charge which would later be dropped. He was famously arrested at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco on October 4, 1961 for violating the California Obscenity Code for saying the word "cocksucker" in his routine; he is later aquitted.

Bruce was arrested again on October 6, 1962 for possesing narcotics, and on October 24, 1962 for using the phrase "Where is that dwarf mother-fucker?" at The Troubadour Theatre in Hollywood. His trial for obscenity in San Francisco is now considered to be a landmark in the fight to preserve the freedoms set forth in the First Amendment and a one which would cause Bruce to go broke. After being again aquitted, Bruce's act begins to take a different turn. Relying less on bits and skits, Bruce now begins to do freeform monologues focusing on race, religion and other sacred cows. After many long legal battles Lenny becomes broke, partly due to legal fees, partly due to no comedy clubs willing to take a chance in him.

He is arrested for obscenity in Chicago in December 1962 and again in February 1963 after a performance at The Unicorn.


Denounced for blasphemy, Bruce was banned in 1962 from performing in Australia.

During a April 1964 performance at Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village, Bruce used more than 100 "obscene" words. Undercover police detectives attended the show, and later testified against Bruce. The charge was Giving an Obscene Performance. He was convicted following [|a six-month trial].

His autobiography, "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People" (dedicated to Jimmy Hoffa), was published in 1965. Bruce's last performance was on June 26, 1966 at the Filmore Auditorium in San Francisco.He was 37. Bruce mishandled his own appeal, and, beset by legal and financial problems, he died of a morphine overdose at his Hollywood home, with the conviction still on the books.

In 2004 Lenny Bruce was granted a posthumous pardon by Gov. George Pataki, it was the first posthumous pardon in New York state history, and described by Pataki as "a declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment."

FZ produced Lenny Bruce - The Berkeley Concert (2LP, Bizarre/Reprise 2XS 6329, February 17, 1969)