During a recent Friday at the Writers Guild on Fairfax Avenue, scenes from Woody Allen films screened after clips from “Curb Your Enthusiasm;” Lenny Bruce records were passed around the room and conversation centered on Jewish assimilation in American life and its connection to Jewish funnymen onscreen.
Cynics contend that dying young can be "a good career move." It worked out that way for Lenny Bruce, a rebel hero of the Beat-era comedy scene who has been lionized since his premature death by drug overdose in 1966. At 40, Bruce had, for five years, been hounded by law enforcement, standing trial in San Francisco, Chicago and New York.
I've spent the last several weeks listening to the recently released six-CD box set "Lenny Bruce: Let the Buyer Beware" (Shout Factory), an exhaustive and authoritative collection that gives the uninitiated and even the fan a sense of the thrill, the importance and the tragedy of being Lenny Bruce.
The ghost of Lenny Bruce still haunts North Hollywood.
Just around the corner from the Lankershim Boulevard hobby shop where Bruce was busted for heroin in 1962, "Lenny's Back" at the American Renegade Theatre offers a thoughtful, stinging monologue from the grave.