Lenny Bruce took freedom of speech to the next level. It was a level that landed him in jail many times. It was also a level that saw him pay the price which would pave the way for future comic voices to succeed.
People like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, and Sam Kinison (who was managed by Bruce’s mother Sally Marr), owe a sincere debt to Lenny Bruce. You could say Lenny fought the law and the law won, but it would be the comics who would win in the end. Well maybe, depending on what the times are like.
This time more than ever, we could use a Lenny Bruce and Ronnie Marmo brings the iconic comic to life in “I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce” Friday and Saturday night, Oct. 8 and 9 at the Vogel, 99 Monmouth Street in Red Bank.
Marmo, a Woodbridge native and guest on my New Jersey 101.5 show Monday night, September 28, described Lenny Bruce and how he came to play him.
“Lenny Bruce on the surface was a comic,” Marmo said when he called into my show. “But he was so much more than that, you know? You said it perfectly, I think he did more for free speech since the first amendment was introduced into this country. That’s why – he was an incredible guy. A lot of people know Richard Pryor, they know George Carlin but they don’t know Lenny. And Lenny just kind of passed the torch to Carlin.”
“I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce” is directed by Joe Mantegna, who’s been guiding Marmo.
“He’s unbelievable. He directed the play and you know, he’s so committed I mean, he loves it, he loves the show and I feel like he thinks he’s looking back in time cause, you know, he calls me ‘the kid’ even though I’m a grown man.”
When you play another person as long as Marmo has played Lenny Bruce over 300 times, You learn so much about them that in some ways they become you. How has Lenny Bruce changed Ronnie Marmo?
“Five years ago when I started to write this play – six years ago [actually] – a lot of my feelings were different than Lenny’s. I didn’t know what exactly we agreed on, didn’t agree on, I couldn’t tell you those things now. Because my heart doesn’t know that I’m acting and I’ve completely consumed this man and I love him. I feel like in some ways I’m getting to carry the torch and finish something Lenny didn’t get to do.”
For tickets to “I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce” click here.
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