Last night I bought a first edition hard bound copy of Lenny Bruce’s How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, and this morning I realized it was the anniversary of his death… as they say (whoever they are) “there are no coincidences ..."
Anyway, on August 3, 1966, Lenny Bruce -- legendary stand-up comedian, author, social critic and satirist of the 1950’s and 60’s (born Leonard Alfred Schneider, October 13, 1925 ) was found dead at the age of 40 in the bathroom of his home at 8825 Hollywood Boulevard. The LAPD immediately announced that Bruce died from an overdose of narcotics, probably heroin, and that has been a universally reported fact ever since. However, the official report admits that the cause of death was unknown and the analysis inconclusive. Take that Wikipedia!
Dick Schaap eulogized Bruce in Playboy, with the memorable last line "One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That's obscene."Phil Spector, who once described Bruce as “my Socrates,” said Lenny Bruce died from "an overdose of police."
Side Note: I was going to include the entire script of “Thank You, Mask Man,” but I’ll save that for his birthday in October. Those who might be offended will have to wait a few months. Sorry.
Here are some of Lenny Bruce’s jokes, comments and philosophies. Enjoy.
“If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little Electric Chairs around their necks instead of crosses"
“Take away the right to say ‘fuck’ and you take away the right to say ‘fuck the government!’”
“My mother-in-law broke up my marriage. My wife came home and found us in bed together.”
“The only truly anonymous donor is the guy who knocks up your daughter.”
“If you live in New York, even if you're Catholic, you're Jewish.”
“The truth is what is, not what should be. What should be is a dirty lie.”
“A lot of people say to me, ‘Why did you kill Christ?’ I dunno ... it was one of those parties, got out of hand, you know. We killed him because he didn't want to become a doctor, that's why we killed him.”
“All my humor is based upon destruction and despair. If the whole world were tranquil, without disease and violence, I'd be standing on the breadline right in back of J. Edgar Hoover.”
“Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.”
“I hate small towns because once you've seen the cannon in the park there's nothing else to do.”
“I won't say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: What I'm going to be if I grow up.”
“I'll die young but it's like kissing God.”
“If you can take the hot lead enema, then you can cast the first stone.”
“In the Halls of Justice the only justice is in the halls.”
“The ‘what should be’ never did exist, but people keep
trying to live up to it. There is no ‘what should be,’
there is only what is.”
“The liberals can understand everything but people who don't understand them.”
One more thing, in December 2003, almost four decades after his death, Bruce was granted a pardon for his obscenity conviction by New York Governor George Pataki. Pataki claimed his decision was "a declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment." It was the first posthumous pardon in New York history.