About the Audio
Lenny Bruce was a star comedian, an outlaw social critic, and, eventually, a free speech martyr and cultural icon all due, in large part, to the words he spoke on stage. It is hard to imagine a more fitting subject than Lenny for a book with an integrated audio component. The CD program that accompanies this book was carefully compiled by the authors as a way of enhancing the reader's understanding of Lenny and his struggles for free speech. It is not intended as a "best of" Bruce collection: rather, the audio follows the outline of the text, presenting Lenny's performances and interviews with others in the context of his unfolding story. And it allows the listener to understand Lenny's humor, his uncovering of hard truths, and his breaking of taboos from a different, more experiential perspective.
Above all things, Lenny wanted to be heard. The opportunity his prosecutors and judges most often refused — to hear Lenny and his act —is offered here to you.
Partial List of CD Cuts
The following list does not contain all of the tracks found on the CD audio recording.
Among the omissions are narrative excerpts that connect one track to another,
recorded by Nat Hentoff (Village Voice jazz critic, syndicated columnist,
free speech scholar, and Lenny's friend). For those track titles that are underlined below,
a small portion of the audio recording is provided for your listening pleasure.
Those using 28.8 or 56k modems may have to wait for a minute or so while a track buffers.
To listen to these tracks, you must have Windows Media Player
installed on your system.
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Lenny recorded this bit on November 19, 1961, at the Curran
Theaterin San Francisco, after his Jazz Workshop obscenity arrest and in between court sessions of his obscenity trial.
The Steve Allen Show
Steve Allen introduces Lenny on “The Steve Allen Show,” April 5, 1959.
What Offends Me
Lenny performs a bit on cultural offensiveness for the TV audience of “The Steve Allen Show,”
April 5, 1959.
Sex and Religion/Who Killed Christ
Lenny admits that the Jews killed Christ in this bit from "The Lenny Bruce Performance Film,” the documentary of Bruce's performance in August 1965 at Basin Street West in San Francisco, filmed and produced by John Magnuson.
Ann's 440/A Pretty Bizarre Show
This cut is taken from Lenny’s performance at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, October 4, 1961. He was busted there, mainly for using the word “cocksucker” in the bit, which is a recollection of his first gig in
San Francisco at Ann’s 440. This was Lenny’s first arrest for obscenity that led to the San Franciscoobscenity trial, his first of six such trials.
In his taped interview with Ronald Collins and David Skover, the famous poet and owner of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco reminisces on Lenny’s method of getting material for his act.
To Is a Preposition, Come is a Verb
This bit, also taken from Lenny’s Jazz Workshop performance on October 4, 1961, is frank about sexual relations. It was a contributing factor in his obscenity bust on that evening.
In this bit, Bruce makes fun of Albert Axelrod, the San Francisco municipal court judge who first presided over Bruce's obscenity trial. This cut is also taken from Lenny’s live performance on
November 19, 1961, at the Curranin Theater San Francisco.
In his taped interview with Collins and Skover, Albert Bendich discusses his defense of Lenny in the
San Franciscoobscenity trial.
Blah, Blah, Blah
This excerpt is a choice portion from Lenny’s embellished account of his San Francisco/Jazz Workshop bust for using the word “cocksucker” (“blah blah blah”).
Las Vegas Tits and Ass
Lenny's shtick on the entertainment fare in Las Vegas is taken from his sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, performed during a severe snowstorm in
New York on February 3, 1961.
Thank You Mask Man
The Lone Ranger asks for Tonto as a gift to be given by the thankful townsfolk in this selection from the animated short “Thank You Mask Man.”
The Troubador/Richard Hecht
In a taped interview with Collins and Skover, former Assistant District Attorney Richard Hecht discusses his involvement in Lenny’s Los Angeles prosecution for obscenity.
In a taped interview with Collins and Skover, Richard Ross, the prosecutor in the Los Angeles version of People v. Bruce, recalls Lenny's testimony on the stand.
Oral Roberts discusses the thorny issue of integration with the newly elected Pope John XXIII in this 1958 San Francisco recording of Lenny's famous bit, taken from his album “The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce,” released by Fantasy Records.
Christ and Moses
Bishop Sheehan tells Cardinal Spellman about the unexpected appearance of Christ and Moses at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York, in this celebrated 1961 Carnegie Hall Concert version of Lenny's well known routine.
An eerie monologue featuring Adolf Eichmann, as performed by Lenny at the Gate of Horn in
on December 5, 1962, was a contributing factor to his obscenity arrest by undercover police approximately one-half hour later. Chicago
A recording of the actual bust at The Gate of Horn in Chicago, December 5, 1962
A Comedy of Errors
In this cut from "The Lenny Bruce Performance Film,”
Lenny explains why he is arrested so often for obscenity.
Lenny's friend, Ralph Gleason, explains the terrible paradox that Lenny experienced at trial in being prosecuted based upon the police witnesses' inaccurate and biased accounts of his allegedly obscene acts.
Jackie Kennedy/Hauling Ass to Save Her Ass
Lenny explains how Time Magazine falsely portrayed Jackie Kennedy's reactions at her husband's assassination, in the version of this bit taken from” The Lenny Bruce Performance Film."
Lenny Reads the Complaint
Lenny reads from his New York trial transcripts in this cut taken from "The Lenny Bruce Performance Film.”
Garbus, one of the defense attorneys in the New York obscenity trial, explains the absurdity of Lenny's arrest in the context of the 1964 "free love" environment in New York. This interview is taken Robert Weide’s award-winning documentary, “Lenny Bruce: Swear to Tell the Truth.”
Richard Kuh Cross Examines Richard Gilman
This never-before-released audio cut is taken from a tape secretly recorded by Lenny during his
obscenity trial. Lenny hid a tape recorder in his briefcase, and placed it under the defense table. Here, prosecutor Richard Kuh vehemently questions one of Lenny's expert witnesses, the Newsweek literary critic Richard Gilman, concerning Gilman's interpretation of one of Lenny's bits. Kuh suggests that Lenny's routine is too “obscure” to have any real meaning. New York
The following excerpt from the New York trial transcript may assist the listener:
Richard Kuh: You spoke of the “pissing in the sink” incident as a urinary phenomenon—I believe I quote you accurately—
Richard Gilman: Not—
Kuh: Not a urinary phenomenon—but a sociological and psychological phenomenon. Do I quote you correctly?
Kuh: And then you continued, I believe, saying this sociological and psychological phenomenon, that Bruce was referring to bad housing. Is that correct? . . . The lack of bathrooms.
Gilman: No, that isn’t correct. I added that as a . . . as a possibility.
Kuh: You did add that as a possibility?
Gilman: Yes, I made no—
Kuh: Are you certain?
Gilman: I cannot be certain of anything that he says—
Kuh: Then there is some obscurity about what Bruce says, and does.
Gilman: I would hope there would be, because if the outcome were certain, if we knew it, it would be a mathematical demonstration—
Kuh: And in terms of an oral performance, is obscurity part of oratory?
Gilman: Uh, stated that way, obviously not. Obscurity may be necessary for the nature of the material or the work.
Kuh: Would you say the great words in oral performances that have lived through generations—“Give me liberty or give me death,” “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”—words like this were obscure? Is that part of their glory and their merit?
[At this point, lead defense counsel Ephraim London objects to the line of questioning, but the objection is overruled.]
Gilman: The analogy is invalid. You’re talking about political oratory. And this is a performer in a nightclub, an imaginative worker, not a speechmaker.
Kuh: I am talking about clarity in an oral performance that the audience has no opportunity to get any way except strictly orally. And I'm asking you, will you tell me whether the “pissing in the sink” incident is so obscure that you don't know what he was talking about?
Gilman: I said nothing of the kind.
Kuh: What was he talking about?
Gilman: I said nothing of the kind.
Kuh: When you said “sociological and psychological phenomenon,” and then parenthetically said “bad housing,” what were you talking about?
Ephraim London: Your honor, please, we've had three questions and the witness hasn't been given the opportunity to answer any of them.
Kuh Questions Dorothy Kilgallen
In this cut from the
trial tapes, prosecutor Richard Kuh questions the respected columnist Kilgallen about the necessity of Lenny’s language in his “Jackie Kennedy/Hauling Ass” routine. New York
The following excerpt from the New York trial transcript may assist the CD listener:
Richard Kuh: He's just described Jackie Kennedy's pictures in the automobile, and then he goes on . . . . And he says, "That's the way all of us feel, shitty all the time . . . because we're no good, 'cause we run away, 'cause nobody ever stays. It's all bullshit. None of you motherfuckers ever stayed one time in your life . . . ." Do you feel that that language was necessary for the effectiveness of that portion of that script?
Dorothy Kilgallen: I think he felt it was necessary, and perhaps it was. He was expressing the fear that all human beings feel and he was sympathizing with it . . . and if he feels it's necessary, I do not object to it.
Kuh: Are you saying that, in your eyes, Mr. Bruce can do no wrong?
Martin Garbus: I'll object to that. That was not the witness's testimony.
Kuh Rails Against Rev. Forrest Johnson
More from the
trial tapes. Here, prosecutor Richard Kuh grills Reverend Johnson over the question whether the word “motherfucker” is highly objectionable, given the Fourth Commandment's call, “Honor thy father and thy mother.” New York
The following excerpt from the New York trial transcript may assist the CD listener:
Richard Kuh: Is the Fourth Commandment, "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother"? I didn't hear your answer, Reverend. I still haven't heard your answer, Reverend. Can you answer my question, or is it too difficult?
Forrest Johnson: I don't recall whether it's the Fourth or not.
Kuh: Is there one of the Commandments, "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother"?
Johnson: There most certainly is.
Kuh: Would you say that the phrase, and you'll excuse me, Reverend, for using this language, but the phrase "motherfucker" is in accord with that Commandment?
Johnson: I don't think the term "motherfucker" has any relationship to that Commandment . . . .
Kuh: Would you tell me what the word "mother" means?
Johnson: I think it's fairly obvious what the word "mother" means.
Kuh: Would you tell me what the word "fucker" means?
Johnson: I think we know literally what it means. It's often used in . . . .
Kuh: To the uninitiated, to the unsophisticated, to persons other than reverends, Mr. Johnson, might someone misunderstand the word "motherfucker" as having to do with mothers and fucking?
Martin Garbus: Objection, your honor, as to what someone might do.
In this routine from "The Lenny Bruce Performance Film," Lenny describes his exchange with Judge Thurgood Marshall, then sitting in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, during the appeal of Bruce's civil rights action against his trial judges and other municipal officials.
In his taped interview with Collins and Skover, Paul Krassner reflects on Lenny’s legacy.
This version contains more of George Carlin's taped interview with Collins and Skover than is included on the CD.
In his taped interview with Collins and Skover, Hugh Hefner discusses Lenny's significance and the meaning of the First Amendment.
In her taped interview with Collins and Skover, Margaret Cho thoughtfully comments: "I don't want to end up like Lenny Bruce, but I want to be like him."