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Barbed Wire Tongue

Comedy Theatre


Studio Directions

Show Duration: 1 hour

Barbed Wire Tongue

Henry Campbell as Lenny Bruce
Written and Directed by Thom McKeown
Produced by Screenstage Studios


Lenny Bruce was an American stand-up comic and satirist who became a target for prosecutors and a poster boy for freedom of speech. He was born in Mineola, New York, on October 13, 1925 and began doing live comedy at age 22, finding some success before joining the U.S. Navy during WWII.

After an honourable discharge, Bruce married and moved to California, where he resumed his stand-up career, this time giving edgier, controversial performances. Authorities soon took note of the content of Bruce's act and arrested him numerous times for obscenity. As the 1960s rolled around, so did trouble for Lenny Bruce. In 1961, he was arrested for possession of prescription narcotics and for obscenity while performing onstage. He was acquitted of the latter charge in 1962, but the police began monitoring his shows.

A symbol of free speech as his career advanced, Bruce struggled with drugs, succumbing to a morphine overdose in 1966. In 1962, the now-controversial comedian was banned from playing Australia and was again arrested for drug possession and on two separate obscenity charges, with figures such as Woody Allen, Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg coming to his aid during the trial, but he was found guilty. Bruce is still regarded as the pioneer of confrontational, controversial and challenging comedy in what is now termed ‘stand-up’.

Writer/Director Thom McKeown has crafted a comedy/drama in the form of a set by Lenny Bruce – tackling the contemporary issues of 2018 – in a bravura performance from acclaimed actor Henry Campbell.










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