Lenny Bruce/ George Carlin

Lenny Bruce is perhaps America's most infamous comic. He was a stand-up whose stream-of-consciousness routines were likened to that of a free form jazz improvisation. He poked holes in social convention, laughed at mainstream America and swore freely. Many considered him a genius, but he had frequent run-ins with the law.
He was arrested numerous times throughout the 1960s on obscenity charges.  

From the CBC archives, Rewind presents a 1963 portrait of Lenny Bruce.  It features on stage performances and a rare interview with Bruce conducted by Nat Hentoff. In the introduction, you'll hear Bruce being referred to as a "sick comic." That was a phrase used by the mainstream to describe the young alternative comics who were pushing the boundaries.   

After that, George Carlin. Do you know George Carlin's seven dirty words you can't say on television?  It's one of his best known comedy routines.  It was originally released on his LP Class Clown.  In case you haven't heard it, the seven dirty words you can't say on television are...  (pause)  you didn't really think we were going to finish that sentence did you?

In 1972, Carlin was arrested for saying those seven "very bad" words at a show in Milwaukee. But unlike Lenny Bruce, George Carlin beat his rap.  The judge dismissed the charged saying that Carlin had the Constitutional freedom to say his dirty words on stage. The verdict showed that times had changed since the 60's. Lenny Bruce was blacklisted for swearing. George Carlin became a star. As they say in comedy, it's all about timing. Carlin was aware of the path that Lenny Bruce had broken for him. In the liner notes of his Class Clown LP, Carlin dedicates the album to Lenny Bruce, "for taking all the risks".

Rewind presents a feature report on George Carlin originally broadcast on CBC Radio show The Entertainers in 1979.