Friday, May 25, 2007

The Golden Age Of Sniffing Glue

Pressed for time today, so here's some rare Lenny Bruce, from Steve Allen's NBC show, 1959. His initial, improvised joke about Elizabeth Taylor was in reference to her then-recent marriage to Eddie Fisher. But it was Bruce's drug humor that rankled many viewers, for you never saw that kind of material on primetime TV in that period. To Steve Allen's credit, he brought back Bruce to address those he offended.

This was Lenny Bruce in his prime, before his career was destroyed by prosecutors and cops nationwide, and then his life destroyed by his heroin addiction. Bruce influenced many comics, and you can see where George Carlin got some of his moves. But the loose, jazzy style that Bruce made his own was borrowed from Joe Ancis, who held court at Hansen's Cafeteria in Manhattan, and wowed younger comics like Bruce and Rodney Dangerfield with his extended riffs, insults, and strange observations. Ancis never performed on-stage, but his spirit lived in Bruce's act. Crazy.