Come On, Let's Go.
19Aug/100

The Louis Pasteur of Junkiedom

A few years ago, I went through a time when I listened to The Carnegie Hall Concert and Let the Buyer Beware every time I put on headphones. Below is one of my favorite of his routines; conveniently, it's one of the ones that has held up the best, language-wise. For most of his other work, it take some effort to get past 1950s hipster slang, the media references (speaking of which: this is George Macready,) and his unstoppable delivery, but it is all worth it. Sometimes, the full weight of the humor can come in a single word. There's a part I love, from the middle of a routine, in a conversation between him and some midwestern Jews: “You from New York?” “Yes.” “Are you Jewish?” “Yes.” “What are you doing in a place like this?” “I'm passing.”

If you get a chance (and have Netflix,) The Lenny Bruce Performance Film – a full set from 1966 – is available on Instant Watch. Like I said, it has a bit of a learning curve, especially considering the mediocre fidelity of the recording, but it is amazing performance. Moreover, as he goes into the absurdity of his multiple obscenity convictions, it becomes an time capsule and oral history of 1960s stage culture. That being said, here's a somewhat lighter bit:

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