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Writer's Block: Lenny Bruce

Before George Carlin exposed the seven words you can’t say on television, comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested multiple times for saying all seven, and more, on stage. Who is today’s most groundbreaking comedian? Or is there even any ground left to break?
As I said when Carlin died, there's really no one left that can take the mantle; no one can really be THAT notable. Lenny Bruce was arrested. George Carlin was arrested. I don't see anyone else getting arrested for their comedy unless they completely break all moral standards, to the point where the comedy goes from being cutely ironic (remember, Carlin built up to the words with about five minutes worth of talking) to going over the line.

Who is left to shock? How can you shock people? The last time I was shocked by someone on a stage, it wasn't funny; it was Michael Richards screaming "HE'S A NIGGER!!!!!!", and completely losing his mind. That wasn't meant to be shocking, he just snapped. So I don't know if there's any trails left to blaze.

All the truly elite groundbreakers are dead now. Bruce: Dead. Carlin: Dead. Pryor: Dead. Kineson: Dead. Kaufman: Dead, we think. There's no one left, really. Everyone else, regardless of their quality, is a derivative of SOMEONE. Pryor begat Eddie Murphy, who begat Chris Rock. Lenny Bruce begat Carlin, who begat Lewis Black. Kineson begat Doug Stanhope. George Lopez begat Carlos Mencia, who begat Russell Peters. Bill Hicks begat David Cross and Patton Oswalt. Rosanne Barr begat Ellen Degeneres and Jeannine Garafalo, who begat Sarah Silverman. Adam Sandler begat Dane Cook. Everything today is derivative in some way, shape or form of something from the past.

The closest person I can find to taking Carlin's mast is Chris Rock. He is largely credited with re-sparking interest in stand-up comedy in the 90s, and has the mainstream appeal combined with the ability to still say things that shock the general public. I'd say David Cross, but he's not as well known, and also has a habit of crossing that line (like when he says that, if priests are God's messengers, and they're fucking little boys, "then that must mean that... God's a boy fucker... and God has a BIG old dick!... so when some woman is standing over her passed-on son and saying "*sniff* God, why did you take my son...", that's your answer... he's up in heaven, servicing God and the priests... it has to be that, right?". I can laugh at that, but how many people does that cross a line for?). Maybe Lewis Black, but he doesn't really say anything controversial, and really seems to stay away from that.

Either way, just like Carlin wasn't Lenny Bruce, we're not asking for another Carlin. We got more than we ever could have asked from the first one.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Oct. 13th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
True statements, all, but try comparing recent Chris Rock to Chris Rock in the '90s. To me, he's really lost his edge.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )