I’m not a comedian, I’m Lenny Bruce

If  you have ever watched an HBO show, or have listened to an LP with a Parental Advisory, it is your duty to tip your hat to the man who made taboo language not taboo. It’s your duty to give thanks and praise to Lenny Bruce — a man who died for our freedom, and contextualized language.Born in Mineola, New York in 1925, Bruce became a controversial counterculture comedian. “The kind of comedy I do isn’t, like, going to change the world; but certain areas of society make me unhappy, and satirizing them — aside from being lucrative — provides a release for me,” He said.Today it is hard for a young person to reflect on the importance of a man like Bruce. They might read The Essential Lenny Bruce book and not understand the reality of his words. They can watch the movie Lenny (1974), starring Dustin Hoffman, but they’ll come out even more confused about the man.Some of his “offensive” bits that are my personal favourites include: Blah Blah Blah, Christ and Moses, Dirty Toilet, Las Vegas T&A, and Thank You Mask Man. The last is a satire on the Lone Ranger. It concludes with an unspeakable act that is not performed, but suggested. Most of his famous bits were worked out on the stage, night after night. Booking agents grew weary of his devoted following, which consisted of police officers. With mounting legal bills and a profession where the gigs came slowly, the only thing left was to constantly party.”Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on” was echoed in a Bob Dylan song from his 1981 LP Shot of Love. Dylan depicts Bruce as a man who “never robbed any churches or cut off any babies’ heads.” A man on the battlefield where every victory hurt is a fair summary of his tragic last years.If you want to see what they did to Lenny Bruce I’m sure you can find it on the Internet — a ravaged hero on a bathroom floor with a needle in his arm. If you are a fan, this image will be haunting and sad.His drug-use is well known, but as John Cohen said, with biting anger, “Lenny Bruce did not die of an OD; he was murdered by “the establishment.”He was reduced to scattered bookings and when he was booked, he would be arrested or would just break into reading transcripts from his trials. One of these readings was later worked out by George Carlin into The Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television.In fact, Carlin was once arrested with Lenny for refusing to show his ID card to a policeman. While they were in a holding cell Bruce is believed to have said, “Why didn’t you show them your ID? What are you a schmuck?”Carlin was the first one to admit that without the sacrifice Bruce made, there would be no comedians such as himself, Richard Pryor, Cheech and Chong, Louis CK, and countless others.But if Lenny Bruce were alive today I’m sure he would laugh off the accolades with some remark such as, “But I’m not original. The only way I could truly say I was original is if I created the English language. I did, man, but they don’t believe me.”

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