Gilbert Millstein

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 182

The newest and, in some ways, most scarifyingly funny proponent of significance, all social and some political, to be found in a night club these days is Lenny Bruce, a sort of abstract-expressionist stand-up comedian….

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[Bruce is] imbued with a fidgety sense of moral indignation. The latter is so highly developed that he is sometimes said to make Mort Sahl, a contemporary critic and friend, appear merely querulous….

The reaction to Bruce is roughly comparable, although on a cerebral rather than a physical level, to that produced in chorus girls by Lou Holtz, who was once wont to prod them with a cane. Bruce's material, all of which he creates himself (some of it ad lib in a dank cranny of the subconscious) is delivered in nervous shards of hip talk accompanied by a series of impersonations made eerily abstruse by the fact. He sticks mainly to the American scene, for which he seems to cherish an affectionate replusion.

Gilbert Millstein, "Man, It's Like Satire," in The New York Times Magazine (© 1959 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 3, 1959, pp. 28, 30.

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