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Lenny Bruce

Lenny Bruce (October 13, 1925- August 3, 1966), born Leonard Alfred Schneider, was a controversial American stand-up comedian and satirist of the 1950s and 60s. His contributions helped change Stand-up comedy from the practice of telling jokes to an intelligent form of entertainment.

His performances took the form of stories, skits and commentary, occasionally obscene (he coined the term T&A). This penchant for obscene material caused his career to be plagued by constant trouble with the law. His obscenity trials are now considered to be significant benchmarks in the case for preservation of First Amendment freedoms.

Bruce's comedic mission seemed to be an opening of dirty toilet humour, arguing that, as he said, "If something disgusts you about the human body, complain to the manufacturer." Lenny Bruce gave an historic performance at Carnegie Hall in 1961, covering the same ground that had made him famous - not only the so-called toilet humour, but also politics, religion, the law, race, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Catholic Church. Bruce was especially famous for relating the details of his relationship with the police directly in his comedy routine, and such action helped encourage the police to use any and every pretext to arrest and mistreat Lenny Bruce. On the other hand, the oppression worked in the sense that the more he was oppressed, the more he complained, which wasn't always funny.

He was found dead in his Hollywood Hills bathroom, with a needle in his arm (Bruce was a heavy user of drugs such as heroin) and his jeans around his ankles. By the time of his death due to morphine overdose in 1966 he had been blacklisted by nearly every comedy club in the US (as owners feared prosecution for obscenity), banned outright from several U.S. cities, and not allowed to visit Australia. His latter performances often took the form of a rant about his court battles over obscenity charges and the right to Free speech.

Lenny Bruce was interred in the Eden Memorial Park Cemetery[?] in Mission Hills, California.

The 1974 film Lenny, starring Dustin Hoffman, presents a fictionalized account of Bruce's life. Eddie Izzard portrayed the comedian In the 1991 stage show Lenny. Similarly, the comedian inspired songs by Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and R.E.M..

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