Lenny Bruce, born Leonard Alfred Schneider, was a famous American stand-up comic and social satirist during the 1950s and early ’60s.
Despite facing widespread criticism, legal challenges and accusations of obscenity, Bruce was celebrated posthumously as a champion of free speech and political humor.
He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII and began his comedic career after the war.
His daring material, which critiqued the establishment and challenged societal norms, led to multiple arrests and trials.
Despite support from famous figures, his career declined and he died of an overdose in 1966.
In 2003, New York’s Governor posthumously pardoned him. Bruce’s legacy underscores the tension between free expression and societal boundaries in American democracy.
Here is a great collection of quotes by Lenny Bruce.
Best Lenny Bruce Quotes
Never trust a preacher with more than two suits. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I think it’s about time we gave up religion and got back to God. ~ Lenny Bruce.
My mother-in-law broke up my marriage. My wife came home from work one day and found me in bed with her. ~ Lenny Bruce.
You put a guy on a desert island, he’ll do it to mud, a chicken, a barrel, anything, a knothole. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Once the country was settled and built, the bosses changed the order from a stack of educated workers to a barrel of minimum wage lottery dreamers. ~ Lenny Bruce.
There is only what is and that’s it. What should be is a dirty lie. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Every tribe needs a good front man to sell the program. Who better to convince the Middle East to give up the oil, than a brown man with a Muslim name? ~ Lenny Bruce.
There’s a lot of money in wars, except in the war on poverty. Can’t make any bread helping the poor. ~ Lenny Bruce.
If I get busted in New York, the freest city in the world, that will be the end of my career. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I’m not a comedian. I’m Lenny Bruce. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I hate small towns because once you’ve seen the cannon in the park there’s nothing else to do. ~ Lenny Bruce.
You can’t do anything with anybody’s body to make it dirty to me. Six people, eight people, one person – you can do only one thing to make it dirty: kill it. Hiroshima was dirty. ~ Lenny Bruce.
If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Let me tell you the truth: The truth is what is. And what should be is a fantasy a terrible, terrible lie that someone gave the people long ago. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Popular Lenny Bruce Quotes
I was a Jew talking about Goyim religion. If I had just stuck to Moses, everything would have been cool. But, copping to being part of the whole Christ murder conspiracy got everyone goose-stepping again. ~ Lenny Bruce.
You got to pay your dues to get the joke. Besides, laughter is cheap and very portable. If there’s a pogrom, or they’re blaming you for the plague, nothing is easier to pack than a sense of humor. ~ Lenny Bruce.
The ‘what should be’ never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There is no ‘what should be,’ there is only what is. ~ Lenny Bruce.
There are no dirty words, only dirty minds. ~ Lenny Bruce.
What is truth today may be a damn lie next week. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I’m sure that half the buzz from smoking grass was the fact that it was so illegal. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Alright, let’s admit it, we Jews killed Christ – but it was only for three days. ~ Lenny Bruce.
It’s the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Freedom of speech is a two way street, man. You have the right to say whatever you want and the Boss has a right to tell the police to arrest you. ~ Lenny Bruce.
There’s always a down side with any freedom. It’s not just hom**exual freedom, but any sexual freedom comes at a price, and that is usually art. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Once you sleep on feathers you can’t go back to sleeping on the floor. ~ Lenny Bruce.
The American Constitution was not written to protect criminals; it was written to protect the government from becoming criminals. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Top Lenny Bruce Quotes
Wouldn’t it be nice if all the people who are lonesome could live in one big dormitory, sleep in beds next to each other, talk, laugh, and keep the lights on as long as they want to? ~ Lenny Bruce.
Faith is to the human what sand is to the ostrich. ~ Lenny Bruce.
All my humor is based upon destruction and despair. If the whole world were tranquil, without disease and violence, I’d be standing on the breadline right in back of J. Edgar Hoover. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Satire is tragedy plus time. You give it enough time, the public, the reviewers will allow you to satirize it. Which is rather ridiculous, when you think about it. ~ Lenny Bruce.
You know there’s no crooked politicians. There’s never a lie because there is never any truth. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Darwin’s theory is as dead as he is. Everyone is surviving, fit or not. Years ago, any kid dumb enough to chase a shiny object down a well was dead, and out of the gene pool. Now they got the technology and medicine to save the fool so he can breed more open mouth breathers. ~ Lenny Bruce.
There are never enough ‘I love you’s. ~ Lenny Bruce.
What you end up with is outrageousness without the laugh – comedy as electro shock therapy. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God. ~ Lenny Bruce.
When you’re eight years old, nothing is any of your business. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Once you take away the struggle for food, clothing and shelter, work is the one four letter word that offends everyone. ~ Lenny Bruce.
The role of a comedian is to make the audience laugh, at a minimum of once every fifteen seconds. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I was surprised when Nixon passed the test and showed up in heaven, but, I guess Hitler threw off the curve for our century. ~ Lenny Bruce.
You got a million drug laws now because the bosses figured there was more money in putting people in jail than taxing something anyone can grow on a window sill. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Famous Lenny Bruce Quotes
When earth gets good and crowded, like 15th century England, then some new Pilgrims are gonna rocket their Mayflowers to a new solar system. ~ Lenny Bruce.
When hom**exuals were repressed, you got Tennessee Williams. Today’s tolerance got you Hilton Perez. ~ Lenny Bruce.
That’s where the conflict starts. We all want for a wife a combination Sunday school teacher and a $500-a-night hooker. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I am influenced by every second of my waking hour. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Every group needs a comedian. A comic who is politically incorrect at the Berkeley campus might slay them at a Klan rally. ~ Lenny Bruce.
If you live in New York, even if you’re Catholic, you’re Jewish. ~ Lenny Bruce.
You can’t just run out and start the car until some cat invents a car. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Communism is just one big telephone company. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I want to perform an unnatural act. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Guys are like dogs. They keep comin back. Ladies are like cats. Yell at a cat one time, they’re gone. ~ Lenny Bruce.
In the Halls of Justice, the only justice is in the halls. ~ Lenny Bruce.
TV is just advertising for your live gig, so I’m playing whichever show is gonna get me the biggest crowd. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Ultimate Lenny Bruce Quotes
I would become a priest or a rabbi or a monk or whatever the hell was necessary to perform miracles such as taking money from someone else’s pocket and putting it into mine, still remaining within the confines of the law. ~ Lenny Bruce.
The only honest art form is laughter, comedy. You can’t fake it… ~ Lenny Bruce.
I tried the religion scam in Miami, so I know how hard that gig is. But, if you can get it to work, starting your own religion is a license to print money. ~ Lenny Bruce.
To say whatever nonsense comes into your head without any repercussions has got to be a bigger high than heckling a movie screen in a darkened theater. ~ Lenny Bruce.
The reason I’m in this business, I assume all performers are – it’s Look at me, Ma! It’s acceptance, you know – Look at me, Ma, look at me, Ma, look at me, Ma. And if your mother watches, you’ll show off till you’re exhausted; but if your mother goes, Ptshew! ~ Lenny Bruce.
If something about the human body disgusts you, the fault lies with the manufacturer. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Part of the kick of making people laugh was doing something different. We were a rare breed – spotting one of us was like pinning a space alien, or abdominal snowman. There were maybe a hundred stand-ups in the whole country when I was doing it. ~ Lenny Bruce.
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. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Miami Beach is where neon goes to die. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Certain things are complete superstition and have no validity at all in the Bible. Yeah. They’re just the antithesis of everything that is correct intellectually. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Life is a four-letter word. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Funny Lenny Bruce Quotes
Even if you are Catholic, if you live in New York you’re Jewish. If you live in Butte, Montana, you are going to be goyish even if you are Jewish. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Trying to figure things out was my gig. Without the human condition, there’s no struggle, no pain and that means no laughter. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Satire is tragedy plus time. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I wanted out of the navy so bad in ’45, I faked ho*o to get a discharge. It didn’t matter that the Germans surrendered, I knew we were heading to Japan and I was done with that scene. ~ Lenny Bruce.
If there was absolute freedom, people would run over babies and charge admission. ~ Lenny Bruce.
The crooks downtown figured out that comedy is like a hammer. It can put up a barn and it can knock down a wall. So they bought it outright and marketed it as Comedy Central. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Anyone who has two shirts when someone has none is not a christian. ~ Lenny Bruce.
If you can take the hot lead enema, then you can cast the first stone. ~ Lenny Bruce.
There is only what is. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Witty Lenny Bruce Quotes
I don’t want a sharp chick who quotes Kerouac; I just want to hear my old lady say, Get up and fix the toilet, it’s still making noise. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Anyone who does anything for pleasure to indulge his selfish soul will surely burn in Hell. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Every group, every system has a set of values and morals and when you get outside those, then the alarms ring. I was politically incorrect to 95% of the country; luckily my 5% had the bread to come see me. ~ Lenny Bruce.
All my humor is based upon destruction and despair. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I’ve been accused of bad taste, and I’ll go down to my grave accused of it and always by the same people, the ones who eat in restaurants that reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. ~ Lenny Bruce.
The liberals can understand everything but people who don’t understand them. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Hilarious Lenny Bruce Quotes
If I just stuck to pot I might have found out what a drag being an aging hipster actually was. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I credit the motion picture industry as the strongest environmental factor in molding the children of my day. ~ Lenny Bruce.
There is nothing sadder than an aging hipster. ~ Lenny Bruce.
Today’s comedian has a cross to bear that he built himself. A comedian of the older generation did an act and he told the audience, This is my act. Today’s comic is not doing an act. The audience assumes he’s telling the truth. What is truth today may be a damn lie next week. ~ Lenny Bruce.
I’ve talked to biblical cats, and Neanderthals who been here since day one. No one here has even seen the Big Boss. Ever. ~ Lenny Bruce.
So these were 85 top Lenny Bruce quotes on life, comedy and politics.