Bought this to find out what LB was like. CD artwork is 3 pages of someone else ie not LB but 4th page is LB. 1 track per both CD ie no proper banding of all comedy tracks.] To Jump to next track you have to FastForward. Badly produced with poor proof reading
Lenny Bruce is not a comic for the intellectually challenged. He was quick, improvisational in nature, and at times brilliant. Listening to one of his live performances requires your undivided attention, like great jazz or classical music, to truly appreciate. If you want jokes jokes about dad making breakfast and babies being born, go listen to Cosby and Pryor, they ARE great, but when I want my gray matter tickled along with my funny bone, I go to Lenny Bruce. To those of us who do appreciate Lenny Bruce he was more than just an important and influential comedian, he was a prophet and a sage; still is. But along the way, if you have the guts, the brains, the honesty to listen, you WILL laugh, because Lenny Bruce is a very funny (if dead) man. In the opinion of this Brucephile, "The Carnegie Hall Concert" is the most valuable recorded document of what was great about Lenny Bruce and why he mattered. From a performance standpoint, he was at the height of his powers. From a social standpoint, this show was just prior to the beginnings of his problems with the law and features the best balance of his comedy and social commentary. Earlier than this, he was a bit "schticky" (as he often said himself). After the trials began, his understandable preoccupation with legalities began to imbalance his act (though he remained fascinating). Here, you get the undiluted best. I can't even pick out moments, because the whole thing has to be taken in in its magnificent entirety. It's a 90-minute statement on where America stood in 1962, on the cusp of a social revolution, and it's brilliant. Buy this. If you want to know why Lenny Bruce became an icon who deserves to be discussed alongside Kerouac, Kesey, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter S. Thompson; if you want a snapshot of our cultural mindset before the turbulence of the 60's erupted; or, if you just wanna laugh--Buy this. It may seem like a lot of dough, but frankly it's a giveaway. The parchments of our history rarely come this cheap.
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Delve into any American alternative comedy and, like Peter Cook in the UK, you'll find Lenny Bruce as the ultimate source and inspiration of their act. Furthermore, like Bill Hicks (or James Dean), the story of the comedian outweighs their shortcomings. Lenny Bruce died of an overdose while in the process of being censured by the Conservative establishment of 50's/ early 60's America. This makes him a martyr of comedy, to the point where the most popular DVD of him consists of an angry Lenny reading boring transcripts from his trial (as opposed to interesting, comedic material which might be more prominent were it not for his story.)
Happily, this recording was before Bruce's legal troubles and gives the best snapshot I've come across of his full act and method of performing.
Initially you may be a bit puzzled by what you hear. Bruce's style was Jazz-improv comedy, where he would talk stream-of-conciousness and hope the material would be funny and original. To the modern ear, though, his Yankee slang (e.g. 'stuup' = to make love and 'bread' = money) is initially very confusing, and it's very difficult to understand the culture references, given that they are about things that happened 50 years ago.
Still, once you get into the flow, it is a unique experience and Lenny covers everything from Las Vegas, to drugs to Communism, all with a fairly good hit-rate in creating laughter. It is also worth noting that no comedian has repeated Lenny's feat of getting on stage and just talking. There are clearly repetitive elements (e.g. 'Jesus and Moses'), but mainly the material seems incredibly fresh.
Of course, if you aren't into experimental comedy and like comedy with a good 'hit rate', I would recommend going for comedians who fulfilled Lenny's legacy, such as George Carlin (especially with Class Clown) and Bill Hicks (with Arizona Bay). Carlin and Hicks also have the virtue of having taken the concept of 'Jazz comedy' but then 'working through' the material so that the Jazz-improv elements riff off of tried-and-tested routines.
That said, like Lenny Bruce himself, you should be bold enough to give this CD a go, even if only once.
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