Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #33

Lenny Bruce (1925 – 1966)

33 Lenny Bruce

Political, satirical, vulgar, brilliant, and original. That’s New York. And that’s Lenny Bruce. Unfiltered and uncensored, the searing and controversial comedian who changed the art form was born Leonard Alfred Schneider on Long Island and got his start in Greenwich Village clubs like the Village Gate and the Bitter End. He emerged into prominence with a successful performance at Carnegie Hall in 1961, but was deemed too risky for TV, only appearing on air six times in his entire career. Later, his infamous arrest and conviction for obscenity (he received a full posthumous pardon from Governor Pataki 37 years later) occurred after an explosive set at Café Au Go Go on Bleecker Street. All of the words and the sexual and social ideas that put Bruce behind bars are standard issue for stand-up comedians today.

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