Ronnie Marmo stars as the legendary comedian Lenny Bruce in this solo show, which ran for 110 performances in Los Angeles. Directed by Tony Award winning stage actor, film and television star, Joe Mantegna. More…
This look at the life and battles of the groundbreaking comedian not only draws from his many court battles championing the freedom of speech but also includes many of Bruce's original comedic bits and insights from his own writings.
"A major facet of Marmo’s bang-up performance is his smoothly alternating between hilariously replicating Lenny Bruce’s polished stylings of controversially explicit language during his prime, along with his agonized ramblings...Mr. Mantegna perfectly achieves the desired netherworld theatricality of Bruce chronicling his life to a nightclub gathering with choice presentational flourishes that harness the excellent production elements for an optimum of visual force." Full Review
"Ronnie Marmo is perfection as Lenny Bruce. His cadences and phrasing are spot on...Legendary stage and screen actor Joe Mantegna directs Marmo in this solo performance, brilliantly creating several environments that differentiate between Bruce’s standup act and theatrical narration...This show will give you the opportunity to learn and experience who he was with all of his attributes, deficiencies, and vulnerabilities." Full Review
"Marmo’s theatrical portrait of Bruce couldn’t be more relevant...Malmo’s play not only illuminates and entertains, but gives us a glimpse at the person behind his effect...Marmo has done a formidable job...My sole caveat about this script is that the character’s heroin use is suddenly referred to without showing when/how it began or spiraled before killing him. Still, the piece showcases highly accomplished playwriting.” Full Review
“Part biodrama, part confessional, part stand-up comedy...It succeeds when Marmo conveys something new about Bruce...Marmo might do well to expand his play and perhaps include a few more sketches from Bruce’s stand-up oeuvre...That said, ‘I’m Lenny Bruce’ can speak to anybody who is concerned about democracy in the Trump era. The play is a must-see for anyone who has ever cared about free speech and wants to see how Bruce fiercely fought for it tooth and nail." Full Review
"Bearing a close enough resemblance to Bruce, Marmo reprises excerpts from routines to prove the late comic’s—and Marmo’s—comic theses. He’s excellent at assuming Bruce’s casual approach, his easy gestures, his soft, seductive voice...Strong as the 'I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce' writing and performing are, there is one particularly pertinent biographical acknowledgment missing: what Bruce picked up from friend and fellow comedian Joe Ancis." Full Review
"A hip and funny as well as a very sad show...Marmo is the most Bruce-like of all the actors I’ve seen portray Lenny...Marmo doesn’t dig extensively into Lenny’s bits and the laughter they received...Marmo deals more with Lenny’s refusal to bow to the powers-that-be...Marmo’s Lenny becomes the M.C in the wry story of his life. He stumbled into a life in comedy, after his ad-libs were greeted with laughter, and he died in agony." Full Review
"Bruce’s voice, which Marmo evokes without resorting to out-and-out imitation...Marmo portrays Lenny’s descent into drug addiction and general disrepair unsparingly; his opening and closing tableaux are devastating...There’s nary a lull, although sprinkling in a few more snippets of Lenny’s really funny early bits would afford a welcome respite from the intensity of the later legal stand-off...The show is recommended for admirers of Lenny Bruce." Full Review
"Some of the most compelling moments in the show focus on Bruce's court appearances and his pleas on behalf of freedom of expression...Throughout his performance, Marmo presents us with a man who has a voracious appetite for an audience's love and laughter, always ready with a million-watt smile even when he grows increasingly wobbly on his feet...With this show, Ronnie Marmo is giving Bruce the kind of justice he also would have appreciated, another audience." Full Review
"Mr. Marmo deftly provides an authenticity to the cadence, posture, and mannerisms of the comic, but what suspends the audience in disbelief is his ability to inhabit the soul of Lenny Bruce immersed in a crusade...Director Joe Mantegna at times uses a heavy hand to extract the emotional content of the piece but fits the pieces of this puzzling life together in a clear and comprehensive manner...As playwright, Mr. Marmo is less successful." Full Review
"Heartfelt, provocative, yet disappointingly conventional tribute...Bruce was unquestionably a boundary-pusher, which is why it is somewhat disappointing that Marmo and director Joe Mantegna lean on many of the same tropes found in nearly every fringe festival solo show...It helps that Marmo is a talented mimic...Despite its flaws, 'I'm Not a Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce' reminds us of one of America's great champions of free speech." Full Review
"Despite a structural conceit that establishes the action as an exercise in deterministic tragedy, the show lacks propulsive energy. It isn’t very funny, either, which may have something to do with Bruce’s material: It’s simultaneously ahead of its time and dated...Much of the standup in 'I’m Not a Comedian' is fairly familiar, and the show does not shed any new light on its subject’s all-too-familiar demons. But it does make you mull Bruce’s legacy. " Full Review
“Marmo's solo show isn't all that interested in humor...If you grew up steeped in Lenny Bruce...you won't learn anything new...It's a depressing tale, told here faithfully but with little flair...What's most surprising is the flatness of the comedy sequences...Mantegna has directed in a manner that is determined to drive home The Importance of Being Lenny, an approach that doesn't do this material any favors...The word for this one is unnecessary.” Full Review
for a previous production “Directed with great skill by Joe Mantega, Marmo thoroughly commands the stage and audience from start to finish...Marmo brilliantly leads the audience through the many ups and downs of Bruce's hard life...Including Bruce's descent into hard drugs - a scene that was truly difficult to watch in its realistic depiction...The perfect star showcase for Marmo...His reincarnation of the comedic genius is not to be missed!” Full Review
for a previous production “Artfully directed...An 85-minute solo piece with Marmo in an intense and memorable performance...What powers the play is not only the inherent drama, of tragic proportions, in Bruce’s life but also Marmo’s flawless embodiment of the man. There’s never a moment when we doubt the person before us is this smart, tormented individual come to life. It’s an illuminating in-depth performance, worthy of its subject, a singular artist come and gone before his time.” Full Review
for a previous production “Described as obscene, provocative, criminal and controversial, this powerful one-man play is all of that and more! Marmo gives a breathtaking performance...Directed with gritty focus by Mantegna, the delicate balance between actor and director is strongly felt here. Not usually a big fan of ‘one-actor’ productions, but now and then one comes along that I feel puts the audience in a focused and appreciative trance throughout. This is one of those magical times!” Full Review
for a previous production “Marmo managed to effectively profile the comedian...Marmo IS Bruce. In his solo tour-de-force, Marmo leads the audience through Bruce’s turbulent life...In his stunning performance, chronology plays a secondary role to the emotional explosions which punctuated Bruce’s life...This is a must-see show. However...This is definitely an adults only production. Despite much of the gritty content...the show is remarkably tasteful...This performance is about words, not actions.” Full Review
for a previous production “A telling one-man stage iteration of Bruce's tumultuous life...Written by Jason M. Burns and Ronnie Marmo, who renders an astute portrayal of the late comic, ‘I Am Not A Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce’ receives pristine clarity and great theatricality through Joe Mantegna's straightforward direction and Marmo's riveting performance...Through Marmo's intense portrayal, we learn of Bruce's life...A dramatically packed 90 minutes.” Full Review
for a previous production “Ronnie has created a play that feels more like an intense flashback into pivotal moments in Lenny’s life...Told with kindness, candor and...truth...Ronnie fills the stage with his vivid interpretation of Lenny...interspersing the show with uncannily accurate performances of excerpts from Lenny’s actual stand up...It has an achingly timeless quality to it, Ronnie is totally mesmerizing and his surreal attachment to this icon gives him the power to bring him back.” Full Review
for a previous production “One play you do not want to miss and that is because of the exceptional portrayal of Lenny by Marmo...Marmo masterfully takes us through a journey of Lenny Bruce’s troubled life...Including his successes, failures, his marriage to Honey Harlow, a stripper he met in a bar, the birth of his daughter Kitty and his relationship to his Long Island Jewish mother Sally Marr...As I watched Marmo on stage I couldn’t help but imagine what Lenny would say if he was alive in this political climate.” Full Review
for a previous production “Marmo brings the ground-breaking standup comic legend Lenny Bruce back to scabrously funny, heartbreakingly poignant life...Highs and lows and joys and heartbreaks...’I Am Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce’ has them all, and if there were some opening night nerves, there’s no denying the authenticity and comedic/dramatic flair of Marmo’s multi-hued Lenny under the guiding eye of director Joe Mantegna.” Full Review
for a previous production “This perfectly inflected performance is expertly directed by Mantegna...When Marmo picks up a mike to re-create excerpts from Bruce's routines, the result compares favorably with existing footage of the comic in action...Marmo's Bruce is equally unsparing in confronting his own failures as a husband and father...This engaging and illuminating portrait allows subsequent generations to understand who Lenny Bruce was, and, more important, why he mattered.” Full Review
for a previous production “An inventive portrait of comedian Bruce...Infused with a sampling of the comedian’s off-the-cuff, riff-like performance style, Marmo ably inhabits Bruce’s persona...Mantengna establishes a seamless flow of story and comedic performance...The main focuses of this one-man play are the tragic consequences of being a comedian before his time...'Lenny Bruce’ pinpoints the ethno-social taboos that were still in place during the 50s and 60s." Full Review
See it if You want to see the brilliant actor channel Lenny Bruce and be deeply moved from laughter to tears in a lovely setting at the Cutting Room.
Don't see it if You have no desire to know more about legendary ahead of his time Lenny Bruce.
See it if You are interested in what makes someone funny and how the same things destroy him.
Don't see it if If four letter words upset you. Well if they do, you better not talk to anyone in 2018
See it if You want to see a terrific portrait of a performer who was way before his time performed with great, forceful acting in a fabulous venue.
Don't see it if You are turned off by Lenny Bruce and obscenities
See it if You want an empirical demonstration of the importance of free speech, not just an academic exposition.
Don't see it if You believe that words have an intrinsic power to hurt, and not, as LB put it, that it's the suppression of the word that gives it its power
See it if you are interested in finding out more about the life of Lenny Bruce, enjoy a well acted,intense biographical study, don't mind vulgarities
Don't see it if not interested in Lenny Bruce,are offended by strong language, once not permitted on stage
See it if If you have always been curious about the life of Lenny Bruce and you want to see some bravura acting.
Don't see it if If you don't like the potential of interaction with the actor and you want fluffy fun,
See it if you are a Lenny Bruce fan - this is as close to actually seeing him perform as you'll ever get.
Don't see it if you'd be unable to sit through reenactment of Lenny Bruce material that uses obscenities, the n-word & racial slurs to make a social point
See it if For a taste of the life & style of a comedy trailblazer who burned a path for Carlin, Pryor, et.al. U can hear the poetry in his sets.
Don't see it if Language & nudity offends U. Seems comedy doesn't age well. Great acting, but routines that shocked & brought belly laughs, fell to silence.
See it if You like and are interested in Lenny Bruce, enjoy a snack and drink with your show, want to travel back in time a little.
Don't see it if You want to learn something new about Lenny Bruce, don't like shows in clubs, don't find Bruce interesting or funny.
See it if You like monologue theatre want to understand the tragedy of a great comedian and social critics life and death.
Don't see it if You have ‘to come’ and laugh at comic material that is dated - but at times still thought provoking - and think that comedy is always funny.
See it if Looking for a good overview of Lenny Bruce's career and later downfall.
Don't see it if If you are easily offended by language or racial humor. But rather tame relative to today's comics.
See it if you'd like to see a fine actor completely immersed in the difficult life of Lenny Bruce
Don't see it if you're hoping to see Bruce's energy and comedy recreated, an ambitious undertaking that isn't quite achieved; if you want upbeat/uplifiting.
See it if You want to see a one person play where the actor tries to re-create Lenny Bruce is life
Don't see it if You are a big fan of Lenny Bruce and know a lot about him. You won’t learn anything new
See it if You want to see a well-crafted and well-acted one-man show about an important and consequential figure in 20th Century American history.
Don't see it if You don't want to hear ethnic or racial profanity on stage or don't want to be confronted with some edgy theater or don't to see nudity.
See it if Ronnie Marmo is the reason I go to live theater. The writing is brilliant and so is his performance. Go!
Don't see it if Do not see this one man show if all you think about Lenny Bruce is that he was an obscene heroin addict.
See it if you want to know more about Lenny, on and off stage. Ronnie Marmo the actor is totally immersed in Lenny Bruce the man.
Don't see it if your mind tends to wander during one-man shows. This is worth the focus!
See it if You enjoy one man shows creatively telling the story of an important American figure. It’s an excellent encapsulation of Lenny’s life
Don't see it if Looking for action and intricate. This is an intimate show expertly told by a powerful performance, but occasionally challenging to follow
See it if This one man show is intense, brilliantly acted, and provides an overview of Lenny Bruce’s life in an effective and absorbing manner.
Don't see it if Counterculture, political incorrectness, or profanity upset you.
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