Lenny Bruce

American comedian and social critic (1925–1966)

Leonard Alfred Schneider (October 13, 1925 – August 3, 1966), better known by his stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, and satirist.

Lenny Bruce in 1961

Quotes edit

  • A Jew, in the dictionary, is one who is descended from the ancient tribes of Judea, or one who is regarded as a descendant from that tribe. That's what it says in the dictionary, but you and I know what a Jew is: One Who Killed Our Lord... there should be a statute of limitations for that crime.
    • Lenny Bruce Without Tears (1972) [1]
  • I want to perform an unnatural act.
    • Lenny as the Lone Ranger, in Thank You Mask Man'' [2]
  • If something about the human body disgusts you, the fault lies with the manufacturer.

Alternative: If God created the Body, and the Body is dirty, then the fault lies with the Manufacturer.

    • Lenny Bruce: Swear to tell the truth 1998 [3]
  • Are there any niggers here tonight? Could you turn on the house lights, please, and could the waiters and waitresses just stop serving, just for a second? And turn off this spot. Now what did he say? "Are there any niggers here tonight?" I know there's one nigger, because I see him back there working. Let's see, there's two niggers. And between those two niggers sits a kike. And there's another kike— that's two kikes and three niggers. And there's a spic. Right? Hmm? There's another spic. Ooh, there's a wop; there's a polack; and, oh, a couple of greaseballs. And there's three lace-curtain Irish micks. And there's one, hip, thick, hunky, funky, boogie. Boogie boogie. Mm-hmm. I got three kikes here, do I hear five kikes? I got five kikes, do I hear six spics, I got six spics, do I hear seven niggers? I got seven niggers. Sold American. I pass with seven niggers, six spics, five micks, four kikes, three guineas, and one wop. Well, I was just trying to make a point, and that is that it's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. Dig: if President Kennedy would just go on television, and say, "I would like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet," and if he'd just say "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" to every nigger he saw, "boogie boogie boogie boogie boogie," "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" 'til nigger didn't mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.
    • From Julian Barry's screenplay for "Lenny"
    • Lenny Bruce: Swear to tell the truth 1998 [4]
  • Take away the right to say "fuck" and you take away the right to say "fuck the government."
  • The role of a comedian is to make the audience laugh, at a minimum of once every fifteen seconds.
    • quoted by Paul Krassner in Lenny Bruce: Swear to tell the truth 1998 [6]
  • I'm not a comedian. I'm Lenny Bruce.
    • quoted by Paul Krassner in Lenny Bruce: Swear to tell the truth 1998 [7]
  • You can't put tits and ass on the marquee!...Why not?...Because it's dirty and vulgar, that's why not!... Titties are dirty and vulgar?...Okay, we'll compromise. How about Latin? Gluteus maximus, pectoralis majors nightly...That's alright, that's clean, class with ass, I'll buy it...Clean to you, schmuck, but dirty to the Latins!
    • in The Carnegie Hall Concert 1961,
  • Let me tell you the truth. The truth is what is, and what should be is a fantasy. A terrible, terrible lie that someone gave to the people long ago.
    • quoted by Paul Krassner in Lenny Bruce: Swear to tell the truth 1998 [8]
  • I was arrested for using a ten-letter word that began with ‘c,’ and I would marry no woman who was not one.
    • quoted by Peter McWilliams in Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do [9]

Quotes about Bruce edit

In alphabetical order by author or source.
  • Lenny Bruce's legacy is freedom of speech and telling it as it is, getting your life and putting it out on the table, telling everyone about it.
  • That's what happened to Lenny Bruce. He got angry, and then he wasn't funny any more.[11]
  • Bruce was a great stage artist, a soloist of unbelievable virtuosity. The thousands of people who filled two houses of an old movie theater in Greenwich Village in December 1963 are a witness of that. So were the audiences that came back night after night during his month in London. The people who followed him were charmed by the free conversational directness of the man. He liked his audiences and took great pains to feel his way towards the individual temperament of each one. And if he felt comfortable with a group there was no end to the effort he would make to entertain and delight them. It’s not really true that he thrived on hostility, though he sometimes managed to put on a show of hard, glittering verve when the animals were in—people who talked loudly throughout his act, sounding "like tape played backwards." But generally an unfriendly audience made him stiff and defiant, and then he would sometimes become brutally dirty, just for the hell of it.
  • One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That's obscene.
    • Dick Schaap, sportswriter, broadcaster, and author, in a eulogy for Bruce published in Playboy magazine/
  • Lenny Bruce (The Establishment) [is] the most original, free-speaking, wild-thinking gymnast of language this inhibited island has ever engaged to amuse its citizens. Mr. Bruce is dark-hatred, dark-suited and American; and the virulent, free-associating manner in which he excoriates the hypocrisies of his compatriots has earned him the epithet "sick." He is in fact pan nihilist, part moralist. He slouches around the stage clutching a microphone, smiling as he improvises, caring as he smiles, seldom repeating in the second show what he said in the first, and always conducting what amounts to a rush job of psychoanalysis on the audience he is addressing.
    He talks about the nuances of race relations (viz. the white liberals who worship Negroes but somehow never meet them) ... about the techniques of masturbation and the psychological duplicity ("a horny hoax") involved in sleeping with a prostitute; about pain, and laughter, and dying.
    At times Mr. Bruce drawls and mumbles too privately, lapsing in to a welter of Yiddish phrases borrowed from the show-business world that reared him. ... But at the end he had broken through frontiers of language and feeling that one had hitherto thought inviolable ...

Lenny Bruce in song edit

  • They said that he was sick 'cause he didn't play by the rules
    He just showed the wise men of his day to be nothing more than fools
  • Just don't forget your history, dirty Lenny died so we could all be free
  • That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane - Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
    • R.E.M.'s song 'It's the End of the World (As We Know it)'
  • Mother Goose is on the loose, stealing lines from Lenny Bruce.
  • I want to be Lenny Bruce.
    • Sacramento rock band Aesthetic featured a song titled "Lenny Bruce" on their 2003 album "Innocence Beneath the Dirt."
  • Lenny Bruce, declares a truce and plays his other hand. Marshall McLuhan, casual viewin', head buried in the sand.
    • Broadway Melody of 1974, by Genesis, from "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"
  • For Halloween, I want to be Lenny Bruce, I want them to hate me, so you can love me on the sly.
  • Lenny Bruce was trying to tell you many things before he died...
    • "Laws Must Change" by John Mayall

External links edit

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