I think Lenny Bruce probably changed my uncle Zack’s life. Without the precedent of Lenny Bruce, I don’t think my uncle could have said #$%* and @&*! nearly as much as he did. From Lenny Bruce to my uncle Zack to me has descended the sacred right to say #$%* and @&*! when you stub your toe, or when your kid falls on his face, or when you forget how many scoops of coffee beans you put in the grinder. From Lenny Bruce to my uncle Zack to me has descended the sacred duty to say #$%* and @&*! more or less continuously while driving. And I believe I have passed these traditions on to my own children.
I’m sure Lenny Bruce changed the lives of Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams and every other stand-up comic who ever stood up in his wake. Bruce was such a smart comedian he was almost a philosopher, and this oft-quoted statement sums up his philosophy:
“Lemme tell you something. If you believe there is a God, a God that made your body, and yet you think that you can do anything with that body that’s dirty, then the fault lies with the manufacturer.”
I think Plato’s Republic would be immensely improved if Plato prefaced his wisest comments with “Lemme tell you something.”