Last year someone finally YouTube-d John Magnuson’s Lenny Bruce performance film — a 45-minute capturing of one of Bruce’s final nightclub appearances, at San Francisco’s Basin Street West, sometime in late ’65. I chose this excerpt because the material between 3:15 and 9:00 is especially good.
I enjoy Bruce’s weary-bitter delivery in this thing. His energy is down — he’s half-performing and half-muttering to himself, depleted from his various court battles — but he’s still “Lenny Bruce.” Dustin Hoffman ‘s performance as Bruce in Bob Fosse‘s Lenny didn’t get that slightly irritated hipster vibe. DH smiled too much, for one thing. If Bruce smiled it was only for an instant, and always he half hid it when he did.
Who uses the word “schtark” these days? Who ever used it except Bruce?
There are probably some under-30s who haven’t heard that much about Bruce, so here’s a starter quote from music/cultural critic Ralph J. Gleason: “Lenny Bruce was really, along with Bob Dylan and Miles Davis and a handful of others (maybe Joseph Heller, Terry Southern and Allen Ginsberg in another way) the leader of the first wave of American social and cultural revolution which is gradually changing the structure of our society and may effectively revise it.”