In this politically correct version of the world Lenny Bruce is just as offensive as he was back when he was being busted by the fuzz for being obscene. You see Lenny is an icon that paved the way for greats like Carlin, Pryor, Hicks, and even Sam Kinison. Words themselves aren't dirty. It's the image that they create. Lenny was ahead of his time and he paid dearly for it. It's unfortunate that Mr. Bruce doesn't get the respect that he deserves. He changed the way that people approached comedy and busted down doors that were formerly closed. I know I'm coming off fan boyish, but Bruce is one of those guys that taught me more about life than most teachers. I learned about free speech from Lenny, and I also learned that you don't really have the freedom to speak at all. You just think you do.
This isn't the first time I read this book I read it back when I was eighteen and I hadn't really seen Lenny perform, and I didn't really know all that much about him. I knew how he died, and how dirty he was, but then again when you looked back at the state of who came after, he wasn't really all that dirty. He knew how to hold a audience's attention but he wasn't trying to offend anyone. He just spoke to them the way he spoke to his friends. If you look on Youtube there are some really good bits of his that still hold up well, while others are quite dated. I fell in love with the book and read it about ten, or eleven times. I thought this was an autobiography, but it's really not.
It's just a series of stories that seem true, and who knows, maybe to Lenny they were. They are entertaining and what makes it so readable is that they're funny, and you're inside Lenny's head a bit. There are other biographies of Bruce, but this one is special because it's the man's own words before his world started falling apart. We do get a glimpse of his beginning legal troubles, but we don't get the tragic end. Lenny had no idea just how bad things were going to get. Neither did family or fans. Some of the stuff is dated but anytime you read an older book you're going to have this issue. If you're one of those people that are bothered by that then maybe you should avoid the book and read something else.
It is one of my favorite books though, and one that you should read if you're at all interested in what the world was like for someone like Lenny who actually arrested for saying cock sucker on stage. He talks about his status as a sick comic and we also get a glimpse inside his marriage to Honey Bruce. This was at the time, the definitive book on Bruce and still is. These are somewhat autobiographical tales that will make you laugh and is a great introduction the legend that is Lenny Bruce.