New York | 1h 30m | Ends Jun 01

I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce

From 23 critic and 32 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Intelligent, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Funny

About the show

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.

1h 30m | Ends Jun 01 | The Box (Lower E Side)


95
TheaterScene.net

"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

95
Theatre is Easy

"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

85
Woman Around Town

"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

85
TheaterScene.com

“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

80
BroadwayWorld

“Directed by Joe Mantegna, Marmo does an excellent job of mimicking the star's twitchy physicality and the hipster attitude that smoothed over his Long Island accent as he recreates legendary performances...Presents a fine overview of the man's professional highs and lows and illuminates what made him important in the history of American culture..Marmo closes his play with one of the most heartbreaking visuals of this theatre season.” Full Review

80
New York Stage 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

80
Theater Pizzazz

"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

80
Scene on Stage

"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

75
Talkin' Broadway

"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

75
Theatre Reviews Limited

"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

60
Theatermania

"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

50
The New York Times

"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

45
Lighting & Sound America

“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

95
BroadwayWorld

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

95
LA Weekly

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

95
The Tolucan Times

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

90
Splash Magazines

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

90
Show Mag

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

90
NOHO Arts District

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

90
The Los Angeles Beat

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

85
Stage Scene LA

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

85
Los Angeles Times

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

80
Stage Raw

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


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Cast & Creatives (2)