Lenny Bruce is brought back to life at Venus Cabaret Theater

Sun. November 7, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

The talented actor, writer and teacher Ronnie Marmo bares all in his piece I'm Not a Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce. The show about the iconic comedian Leonard Alfred Schneider, better known as Lenny Bruce, has returned to life after being shuttered by the pandemic. 

It is a love letter by Marmo to a man way ahead of his time who had a style and candor that was unique in his day. Unless you have watched the Amazon Prime series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, some may not be familiar with the legacy of Bruce. 

Lenny Bruce was someone who looked at the world differently and still has opinions that still hit home. He was around at a time where stand-up comedy had no limits. Back then, comedians didn't battle with political correctness or cancel culture, although the police tried and he went on trial for obscenity charges in 1964. 

Bruce had a troubled life from numerous health problems and addiction. He married a stripper named Honey and produced a daughter named Kitty, before passing away in his hotel room on August 3, 1966. Over the years he tackled subjects ranging from religion to racism, as well as gender inequality and sexual identity in the 1960s.

Bits from Bruce's past routines and his controversial statements are all depicted on the modern stage by Marmo. Some of his ideas will still resonate with audiences today, but some younger folk may find it slow. The pacing drags at the beginning, but eventually builds until the full tragic ending. It is a well-crafted production overall, thanks to director Joe Mantegna and Marmo personifying the legend. 

The plan is for this one-man show to hit the road, so if Chicago patrons are interested in seeing it, time is running out as this show is currently slated until Dec. 4. Purchase tickets at Bring your mask and vaccine card. Be aware seating is fairly close together at Venus Cabaret Theater, 3741 N. Southport Avenue, and some tables are shared with other ticket holders. 

Bruce has influenced a multitude of comedians over the years, but none of them have been quite like him. If you would like to learn more about the man behind the mic, drop in to see "I'm Not a Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce!"