Lenny Bruce on Law & Liberty: In His Own Words
Bruce on the nature of his performances:
"Do you mind being called a sick comic?"
It is impossible to label me.  I develop, on the average, four minutes of new material a night, constantly growing and changing my point of view; I am heinously guilty of the paradoxes I assail in our society.
The reason for the label "sick comic" is the lack of creativity among journalists and critics.
--Lenny Bruce, How to Talk Dirty and InfluencePeople

Bruce on his legal troubles:
"I'm doing my act and a guy comes in.  I know he's a cop--I've had plenty of experience with them.  He starts taking down as much of my act as he can.  He doesn't miss a dirty word; he doesn't get too much of a rest.  He arrests me.  We go to court.  Me and my lawyers have to defend the act he says I gave.  All he says are the dirty words.  His act is obscene.  I'm convicted and have to hire lawyers, maybe go to jail--because of his act.  There's something screwy about the whole thing."
--Quoted by Martin Garbus in Ready for the Defense

Bruce on the legal strategy used in his obscenity case:
"I was so sure I could reach those judges if they'd just let me tell them what I try to do.  It was like I was on trial for rape and there I was crying, "But Judge, I can't rape anybody, I haven't the wherewithal," but nobody was listening, and my lawyers were saying, "Don't worry, Lenny, you got a right to rape anyone you please, we'll beat 'em in the appellate court."
--Lenny Bruce, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People

Bruce on the enforcement of obscenity laws:
"Well, you know, we've got a slight problem.  If I say the things that you want me to say, those gentlemen back there [vice squad officers attending Bruce's performance] are going to bust me.  [Audience boos.]  Don't boo them, it's not their fault.  They're only doing their job.  It's your fault I'm being busted.  Until you change the law, they have to do what the law requires them to do.  It's up to you to change the law."
--Bruce's performance at the Unicorn in Los Angeles, February 1962

Bruce on the Supreme Court:
"The law is a beautiful thing.  The people who attack the law don't really understand it.  You know what it's like?  It's like the Supreme Court, that's the daddy and it runs the store because it knows how.  All the state courts; they're the clerks, and the daddy says, 'Now you just sweep the floor and unpack the stock and that's it - I don't want you to place any orders or change the displays, and keep your hands our of the register.'  But the minute he turns his back all the clerks think they know how to run it better, and they start changing everything and ordering the wrong things and it's a mess.  The Supreme Court, the big daddy, it knows what is, but the little guys keep trying to run the store.."
--Quoted by Stan Cohen

Bruce on his respect for the legal system:
"Okay, here's how it ends.  One day I'm going to get an order to appear in court.  Shit, what is it this time?  But when I get there the courtroom will be all decorated, dig, with balloon and streamers, and confetti, and when I walk in, they'll all jump up and yell, 'Surprise!'   And there'll be all the cops that busted me, and the judges and D.A.s who tried me, and they'll say:  'Lenny, this is a surprise party for you.  We're giving you a party because even after everything that happened you never lost respect for the law.'"
--Quoted by Stan Cohen

Bruce on the toll taken by his obscenity trials:
"I got really busted out financially as the number of arrests had begun to mount up, and my income was more and more cut off.  For the first time in my life I had checks bouncing, and I ruined an eight-year credit rating.  Right down the drain....I have been calling up night-club owners all over the country, but they're all afraid to book me.  Variety, the Bible of Show Business, refuses to accept an ad from me that simply states I'm available....
Fighting my 'persecution' seems as futile as asking Barry Goldwater to speak at a memorial to send the Rosenberg kids to college...."
--Lenny Bruce, How to Talk Dirty and Influence People

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