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Lenny Bruce - How to Talk Dirty and Influence People

Lenny Bruce - How to Talk Dirty and Influence People

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Published by Albert Oliart

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Published by: Albert Oliart on Jan 11, 2011
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01/17/2011

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How to Talk Dirty and Influence People
An Autobiography
 by Lenny Bruce
a.b.e-book v3.0 / Notes at EOF 
Back Cover:
"Here he is, Lenny in his own words, words that mean almost more today in thisage of Jesse Helms and George Bush than when they were first uttered."Saint Lenny. . . died for our sins. As the pendulum slowly shifts, we are back insuch conservative times as those that spawned him in the first place, and so now's thetime to read him."-- F
ROM
 
THE
I
 NTRODUCTION
 
BY
E
RIC
B
OGOSIAN
Lenny Bruce, the scathing and hilarious social satirist and comedian, died in 1966at age 40 of a morphine overdose. During the course of a career that began in the late1940s, he challenged the sanctity of organized religion and other societal and politicalconventions he perceived as having hypocritical tendencies, and widened the boundariesof free speech. His performances were intensely controversial for both the subject matter and the vocabulary employed, and his fight for the freedom of expression has made possible the work of subsequent generations of provocative performers. Critic RalphGleason said, "So many taboos have been lifted and so many comics have rushed throughthe doors Lenny opened. He utterly changed the world of comedy.""The word's suppression gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness." -- LennyBruce
FIRESIDERockefeller Center 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, New York 10020Copyright © 1963, 1964, 1965 by PlayboyIntroduction copyright © 1992 by Eric BogosianAll rights reservedincluding the right of reproductionin whole or in part in any form.First Fireside Edition, 1992Published by arrangement with Playboy Enterprises, Inc.,680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois, 60611FIRESIDE and colophon are registered trademarksof Simon & Schuster Inc.Manufactured in the United States of America16 15 14Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataBruce, Lenny.
 
How to talk dirty and influence people: an autobiography/ by Lenny Bruce: with a new introduction by Eric Bogosian.-- 1st Fireside ed. p. cm."A Fireside book."1. Bruce, Lenny. 2. Comedians -- United States -- Biography.PN2287.B726A3 1992792.7'028 -- dc20[B] 92-887CIPISBN 0-671-75108-5
I dedicate this book to all the followers of Christ and his teachings; in particular to a trueChristian -- Jimmy Hoffa -- because he hired ex-convicts as, I assume, Christ would have.
Introduction
As long as I can remember, I've liked the work of Lenny Bruce. I liked him beforeI'd even heard of him, before I'd heard his routines. How is that possible? Because Lennywas always there. His dark, sexy, idealistic, smirking humor was there when my parentswere drinking martinis, doing the cha-cha, and flirting with their suburban neighbors.It was there when I was driving cross-country, chain-smoking joints, eating black  beauties, and grooving to Coltrane and Hendrix on the eight-track.It was there when I was doing the punk rock death trip in the dark canyons of Manhattan.Lenny was there through it all, the spirit of Hipness past, present, and future. SaintLenny, I should call him; he died for our sins. As the pendulum slowly shifts, we are back in such conservative times as those that spawned him in the first place, and so now's thetime to read him.Attitude is what Lenny Bruce is all about. He was the genius of Attitude. If youdig Lenny, you dig the Attitude. Lenny was one of the bridges existing between post-war African-American culture and the "counterculture" culture of the '60s and '70s. Just as theRolling Stones and the Animals ripped off R & B, or MTV absorbed rap music, Lennyhooked into the jazz mentality.Growing up in the suburbs I got to know Lenny through his albums and primarilythrough
 How to Talk Dirty
. . . This book was part of a secret collection of sacred textsthat unlocked the doors of hipness and rebellion. In 1970, if you were hip to LennyBruce, you were
hip.
As the years have gone by, Lenny has become more an icon than aforce. Everyone has an idea of what Lenny Bruce stood for, but it is vague and general("He was. . . you know. . . dark, cool, hip"). (I am often compared to Lenny Bruce. Peopleeven say I look like him. I say, "I don't look anything like Lenny Bruce. I look like DustinHoffman in the movie
 Lenny
.)If you're like me, Lenny has been an influence, good and bad. By the mid-'70s, theLenny-as-martyr mythology was solidly in place (Albert Goldman's cynical biography
 
 Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!!
and the Julian Barry play
 Lenny
only served tomake the foundation more secure). The Vietnam War had become an "experience" in the past tense and little did anyone know that America was soon to be engulfed in the postmodern fascistic antics of the Reaganites. In the '70s, the
idea
of the '60s got cleanedup and polished. Everyone had long hair, everyone had been against the war, men were becoming more sensitive, black people were wonderful, it was cool to be gay. . . "yadda-yadda-yadda" (as Lenny would say). In the '70s everyone wanted to be cool. And no onewanted to grow up.The new attitudes turned out to be mostly veneer, but we
believed 
that we believed them. And presiding over our glorious and heartfelt beliefs (untested by life or life's problems) were the Saints of the New Attitude. Among the saints were JohnLennon, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Abbie Hoffman, Lenny Bruce. Basically a lot of white men. White men on drugs with groupies.
(Plus ça change . . . .)
Central to the philosophy of the New Attitude was the notion that a Big BadDaddy Government was suppressing and repressing all of us. (Easy to believe after Vietnam and Watergate.) We wanted more and better political action (without thecomplexities of politics) and we needed more and better freedom (without the dangers of overdose, veneral disease, or poverty). Money was out, lifestyle was in. We wanted a"brave new world" that was founded on Utopian principles; where there would be nohypocrisy; where love would rule and wars would be banished. Where everyone would be nice to each other, and we could be high all day, and no one would work at anythingthey didn't feel like doing and no one ever got sick or died.We just had to get away from Big Bad Daddy. We had to get out of the house. Andwe wanted the keys to the car.Lenny was a worker. He "wanted it" (to quote his character Buddy Bob the car salesman). And he gigged and he gigged and he gigged in "toilets," jazz clubs,everywhere, and anywhere. As he said himself, he was only too happy to "sell out." Thatmeant appearances on TV. But he didn't mesh with such a tidy commercial environment.He developed jazz habits: enjoying one's work, doing it for the sake of expression andfun, exploring new ground, taking chances. These were jazz laws, and Lenny broughtthem to comedy. (Also check out Lord Buckley, Jonathan Winters, Redd Foxx.) He also brought the attitude of minority culture with its endless self put-down and riffing about"the Man" and its conspiratorial posture of the inside joke, using code words and phrases(Lenny somehow melded Black and Yiddish vernacular).(A couple of years ago I paid homage to Lenny by dropping by one of his favoritespots in San Franciso, the Hungry i. It's now a strip joint and when I poked my head inthe door the woman at the counter said "Can I help you with something?" I said, "I justwant to take a look at the place, someone I know used to play here." She said "What's hisname?" I said "Lenny Bruce." She said "What instument does he play?")The attitude of rebellion and new-found freedom was genuine for a young Jewishguy in the late '50s or a Black in the '60s. It was becoming OK, even cool, to admit to being Jewish or Black. (Lenny mentions that in the armed forces, as late as WWII, beinga Jew was almost always noticed and remarked upon.) As minorities these groups, brought together in Lenny's jazz-yiddish lingo, had genuine gripes. The civil rights battleswere heating up down South. The stereotyped Southern Racist or Northern Full-of-Shit

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