William Karl Thomas' intimate and poignant memoir of his ten year collaboration with the most controversial comedian of the 20th century begins before Bruce's rise to international fame and continues through the night Bruce died. This collaboration included comedy writing, record album production and cover photography, screen writing, cinematography, and booking of strategic career changing engagements. Most of all it involved attempting to salvage a friend's career gone wrong when taboo comedy materials about sex, politics, and religion prompted political and religious powers to attempt to harrass Bruce into silence, leading to milestone court cases in defense of the first amendment. This book focuses on the creative process and motivations of Bruce, and the professional and personal closeness of the author makes this book more intimate and incisive than previous works by others who worked from third hand research and focused on Bruce's substance abuse.
His screen writing collaboration with Frank Ray Perelli began in New Orleans and led them through Juarez, Mexico, to the West Coast where Perelli had begun to manage the then unknown Lenny Bruce. Bruce admired Thomas' multi-talents, which led to collaborating in a variety of capacities. The trials and tribulations of three 'straights,' including Sally Marr (Bruce's mother), Frank Ray Perelli, and William Karl Thomas, trying to salvage Lenny's career in the face of his substance abuse and harrassment from the establishment, is chronicaled in intimate and compassionate detail in Thomas' memoir.
Manchester Guardian (England): Thomas can write...he superbly evokes the seedy atmosphere of the cheap Hollywood clubs and coffeehouses...his work sometimes reads like a Bogart script.
Screw Magazine (San Francisco): Thomas begins with his own story, and his narrative shows us no modest chum of the late and famous, but a man who is the forthright hero of his own life.
Library Journal: (Referring to "The Trials of Lenny Bruce", says "This book should be read in tandem with "Lenny Bruce: The Making of a Prophet."
(5 out of 5 stars)A Great Read, by Seashells, June 3, 2010
I noticed that The Library Journal, in referring to "The Trials of Lenny Bruce" said that "the book is
best read in tandem with Bruce's "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People" an autobiography, and William Karl Thomas's
"The Making of a Prophet." It was right - I learned Thomas was quoted in Collin's book and he had worked on Lenny's
autobiography which gave an insight to why he was bizarre. Thomas's book gave the intimate feeling of being a 'fly
on the wall' in the 1960's and the frustration of entertainers who were pushing the envelope, and paying the price
for doing so. I loved Thomas's poem at the end of the book, and framed it on my son's wall as inspiration.
Read the following excerpts from this book.
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