About the Book
|He used to say that he was being crucified,|
and I'd say “Hey man, but don’t forget the resurrection.”
|—Mort Sahl (1966)|
spoke frankly about sex, race, religion, government and the lies we tell ourselves. The
things he said infuriated those in power, and authorities in the largest,
most progressive cities in the country tried relentlessly to silence him.
To them, Lenny’s words were filthy and depraved.
But to his fans—the hip, the discontented, the fringe—his words
were not only sharp and hilarious, they were also a light in the dark,
repressed society of the times.
In this revolutionary
new biography, The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an
American Icon, authors Ronald K.L. Collins and David M. Skover
chronicle and analyze Lenny’s free speech struggles. From
Lenny’s early days on stage through his courtroom trials in
At his best, Lenny saw
through the hypocrisy, pretense and paradoxes of our society.
To comprehend the power of his words, one must hear his shticks
and spritzes as he performed them live on stage. The
Trials of Lenny Bruce includes an audio CD of Lenny doing the bits that got him arrested, such as “Las
Vegas Tits and Ass” and “To is a Preposition, Come is a Verb.”
Also included are interviews with his friends and followers George
Carlin, Hugh Hefner, Paul
Krassner and Margaret Cho, among others.
Nat Hentoff, a noted culture
critic, syndicated columnist, and writer for Village
Voice, narrates the CD.
strove to unmask the masked man. As
Hentoff said, he “delighted in exploring why certain words
were forbidden—and then demystifying them.”
Authors Collins and Skover follow Bruce’s crusade to free the First
Amendment from the constraints of censorship
imposed by a false modesty.
Ultimately, Lenny Bruce was vindicated—in principle, but not always in practice:
The tragedy, of course, is that though his speech was legal, he died a convicted man. Comprehensively researched and written with engaging wit and penetrating analysis, The Trials of Lenny Bruce is a major contribution to the history of free speech in America. It also stands as the authoritative work on Lenny Bruce’s valiant struggle to free his comedy.