Iconoclast Lenny Bruce appears at San Francisco's Basin Street West in what was his next-to-last live appearance. His act that night consisted of reading allegations and transcripts from ...
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Iconoclast Lenny Bruce appears at San Francisco's Basin Street West in what was his next-to-last live appearance. His act that night consisted of reading allegations and transcripts from one of his several obscenity trials and then commenting on what he'd actually done or said. While there are some "bits" in the performance (including the prison riot with Dutch, the Warden, Father Flotski, and Sabu, the prison doctor), this is much more a social commentary on government intrusion and censorship than it is a comedy routine. Written by
I remember watching Fosse's biopic, Lenny, and seeing Hoffman's portrayal of the performance documented on this video, and thinking, how sad, that he went from such brilliance to such self-indulgent, self-serving self-defense. I didn't realize until I started watching the video that this was a recording of THAT performance, and it was interesting to watch from that historical perspective. But taken by itself it's more sad than funny. A great comedian, orator, commentator, oh, hell, just the great Lenny reduced to stumbling through court transcripts and embarrassingly trying to remember bits that he did years before. It's disjointed and often makes little sense; ironically, exactly the charges he levels at the "peace officer" assigned to "recreate" his act for the court and the transcripts made from an inaudible recording of one of his shows. Rent this one for a sense of perspective...as an example of Bruce's work, his art, it's a poor specimen, and will have you alternately feeling sorry for him and annoyed by him more than it will make you laugh or think; and those were the two things that, in his prime, Lenny made us do best.
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