Saturday, December 22, 2007
It was on this day in 1964 that comedian Lenny Bruce (books by this author) was sentenced to four months in jail for obscenity. At the time, Bruce was using profanity in his stand-up routine, and he talked openly about sex and made offensive jokes about race, politics, and religion. During the trial, a police witness described Bruce's performance to the court, and Bruce claimed that the man was trying to steal his act. Dozens of artists came to Bruce's defense, including Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, James Baldwin, and Allen Ginsberg. After the sentence, Lenny Bruce became obsessed with the trial and he gave up performing as a comedian and began reading the court transcripts to his audiences. He died two years later of a heroin overdose, still waiting to hear an appeal of his case. It wasn't until 2003 that Governor George Pataki granted him a posthumous pardon.