It’s no secret that Lenny Bruce was a groundbreaking comedian and champion of free speech. But many of his personal papers and photographs have been a secret until now, or at least until next week, when Brandeis University plans to open the Lenny Bruce archive during a two-day symposium on October 27th and 28th. The symposium, titled “Comedy and the Constitution: the Legacy of Lenny Bruce,” seeks to show the world exactly how influencial Bruce was, and how his work is still important in today’s political and social climate.
The parallels between Bruce and Playboy’s own Hugh Hefner are extraordinary. They’ve both championed free speech and opposed censorship to such a degree that their own legal standings were put into jeopardy. In fact, Lenny was such an influence on Hefner’s viewpoint, he included him as a cornerstone in part of his Playboy Philosophy.
Brandeis aquired the Lenny Bruce archive with help from Christie Hefner, who will deliver a keynote speech during the symposium. The event will also feature Lenny Bruce’s daughter, Kitty, and numerous comedians who cite Bruce as one of their main inspirations.