This 50th anniversary month of the death of Lenny Bruce began with Da Capo Press re-issuing Bruce’s autobiography How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, with a new preface by Lewis Black and all proceeds going to The Lenny Bruce Foundation, an organization created by Bruce’s daughter Kitty Bruce. She will be at Book Soup in Los Angeles Wednesday night to read from the book and sign copies.
In Monday’s New York Times, Real Time With Bill Maher writer Chris Kelly had an interesting op-ed. Under the headline “Trump, the Insult Comic Candidate,” Kelly compared Trump to the lineage of Bruce and stand-up comics:
Trump’s humor is now too hip for the room. And by “the room,” I mean CNN. The problem isn’t his material; the problem is that his act is so well crafted after a year on the road — and the performer so completely inhabits his persona — that the audience forgets he’s playing a part.
We can’t tell what the punch lines are supposed to be, because we’ve lost the distinction between the artist and the role. It’s as if 40 percent of the country suddenly decided to make William Shatner chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he did such a good job fighting the Klingons.
Another Bruce-related item in The New York Times worth nothing: comedian Richard Lewis’ Aug. 16 letter to the editors. Reacting to Jason Zinoman’s feature, he wrote:
Most annoying: Patton Oswalt’s comment that comics who said they found Mr. Bruce funny were lying…
I hope that young comedians who aren’t dissuaded by your article listen to the Berkeley, Calif., and Carnegie Hall performances. They’ll learn what it takes to be an authentic artist, whether Patton Oswalt laughs or not.
What’s interesting is that Oswalt did not make a direct comment to the Times for the Aug. 10 article. Rather, Zinoman sourced an old blog post. We’ll add one more suggestion to those above made by Lewis: a recording of Bruce speaking to UCLA students six months before his death.
Image courtesy: Da Capo Press