A one man show on the brilliant life (and tragic death, age 40 of an overdose); and legacy of the ‘god of comedy,’ Lenny Bruce just had to be made, and the perfect combination to do it are actor Ronnie Marmo and director Joe Mantegna. This show makes its premiere at Theatre 68 in Noho Arts district, written by Ronnie Marmo and Jason M. Burns; produced by Ronnie Marmo and Katy Jacoby. The show featured and highlighted the most significant, poignant, and bittersweet segments of his life, resulting in the audience’s awe at this groundbreaking icon. He would have pushed boundaries to this day, as he stated succinctly in his show, “all I have are my words.”
Lenny Bruce’s vulgarities and obscenities in the comedy circuit in his time (think ‘Mad Men conservative’ era) led him to court, conviction, and arrest, yet he forever remained passionate that his ‘words’ were funny, meaningful and misunderstood.
Lenny Bruce has evolved into a muse, blazing the trail for comedians the likes of Chris Rock and Louis CK, and HBO edgy programming whose material is much more outrageous and raunchy than Bruce’s, quite ironically. Who woulda thought? Dreams deferred for decades later, where comedians of today look at Lenny Bruce as a mentor mastermind, a ghost of yesteryear, whose spirit is still alive and with us as a driving force. A condemning spirit, as if to say “the battle for freedom of speech must go on.”
Ronnie Marmo, born to play this role, is a natural in telling all his stories, more than occasionally bursting through with an amazing insight. “Big time religion is obscene. War is obscene.”
He reveals on stage once taboo subjects, such as masturbation, heroin addiction, pornography, yet in a tasteful respectful homage and love letter to Bruce’s genius. His courageousness in ‘pushing the envelope’ surely influenced so many individuals, almost as if he seemed to say, “I will not be forgotten.. defying the odds.” Lenny Bruce oft thought of himself as a ‘stand-up James Dean,’ and indeed he was truly a beatnik rebel, with a cause. His singular fight and day in court may not have been a victory for him, yet he has encouraged others, such as Ronnie Marmo, to impeccably write, tell, and portray his story.
Amidst difficult, challenging times in both his personal and professional life, Lenny Bruce’s story is a worthy subject, where the audience takeaway is a mixed bag of longing, love, respectability for his genius and brazenness.
Oh, that Lenny, an aura of inspiration.
Fade out. Thanks for the mentoring, for the pain and the purpose. His story lives on at Theatre 68, in “I’m not a comedian, I’m Lenny Bruce.”
through July 29 Fridays and Saturdays 8pm
Sundays 3pm 5112 Lankershim Blvd
for tickets: (323)9605068