Men You Wish You Were: Lenny Bruce

Every month Primer Magazine is recognizing a different individual for their accomplishments, cultural significance, and general awesomeness. This month: Lenny Bruce.

“The reason I don’t smoke pot is because it facilitates ideas and heightens sensations.  And I get enough shit flying through my head without smoking pot.”

-Lenny Bruce

Comedians today owe a lot to Lenny Bruce.  Hell, comedians have been owing a lot to Lenny Bruce since the 1950s.

It wasn’t always alright for someone to get in front of a group of people and be vulgar, crass, say every one of the seven words you can’t say ten times each, flip them the bird and then tell them to have a good night.  Lenny Bruce was George Carlin before there was a George Carlin.  He was Richard Pryor before there was a Richard Pryor.

Lenny Bruce looking at the cameraText - Four letter word for lenny: dead at orty. Thats obsceneBy today’s standards he might not even be considered as much a comic as he would a performance artist.  His stage rants feel a little more like Henry Rollins than Louis C.K. but he undoubtedly greatly influenced both.

Bruce was someone miles ahead of the bandwagon.  A man that would have fit right in if he had come along about thirty or forty years later.   Coming along when he did got him arrested more than a few times and effectively banned for life from two countries (England and Australia)!  Even his style was ahead of its time.  But Lenny Bruce didn’t belong in any time other than his own, just when we needed him most.  If he hadn’t, all of those other people may have never come along at all.

Read more about Lenny Bruce here:

Image by Getty Images
Kevin MacLean

Kevin H. MacLean currently resides in Brooklyn, NY where he enjoys people watching, writing, and dominating all comers in four-square. You can keep tabs on him at his blog