— 26th February 2003
I managed to catch last weeks installment of Stand Up America on BBC2 last Saturday. It was a documentary type thing where Mark Lamarr took us through the history of American comedy (slanted towards stand up) starting it seemed with the likes of Bob Hope, and working through to the first waves of TV comedians. Next weeks episode promises to be great with much concentration on comedy messiah ("He died so alternative comedy could live") Lenny Bruce.
I heard of Lenny Bruce a while ago around the time Eddie Izzard was playing him on the London stage. I can’t really remember what I heard but it was enough for me to search out and buy a few of his albums. I enjoyed them a lot but found that they were more interesting to listen to as a historical record than for them being drop dead funny. There are some hilarious bits but as with a lot of stand up it was so topical that (being so long ago) even with the helpful liner notes a lot of it passed me by. He is a wonderful story teller though and a fantastic mimic, and the things he has to say are always sincere. After listening to them repeatedly I did kind of get to know the names he was referring to and piece together some of the topical facts that made the comedy.
So it was great on Saturday while watching Mark Lamarr talking about the time just previous to Lenny’s heyday, that suddenly these names were being mentioned. Mort Sahl, Shelley Berman, Jerry Lewis and more I can’t remember. It’s hard to explain why it such a nice feeling, I suppose like any fan of anything it’s just great to hear more of the minutiae, the details, anything that brings you more information on, more understanding of, and closer to the person you’re a fan of.