Showing posts with label Lenny Bruce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lenny Bruce. Show all posts

Friday, October 22, 2021


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar



I had the great pleasure of catching this show in 2019. I thought I knew the comedy of Lenny Bruce, but prior to this show I hadn't realized how controversial he was at the time, and just how much he pushed the boundaries and shook up the complacency of his middle American audiences. He was a warrior for social justice, all about challenging outdated puritanical mores, and undoubtedly a comedic genius. Ronnie Marmo as Lenny Bruce is a joy to see in action, and “I’m Not A Comedian… I’m Lenny Bruce” is a must see. In our current era of cancel culture and social upheaval, the comedy,  ideals, and actions of Lenny Bruce are still shockingly relevant. If you caught this show pre-pandemic, the new production will include content from Bruce’s repertoire previously unseen in Chicago, so come or come again. 

Written by and Starring Ronnie Marmo as Lenny Bruce and Directed by Joe Mantegna. Previews Begin Nov 3.

Theatre 68 and the Venus Cabaret Theater (3745 N. Southport Ave.) are thrilled to announce the return of the critically-acclaimed production, “I’m Not A Comedian… I’m Lenny Bruce,” to Chicago beginning Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. Carefully restaged for the intimate venue, directed by multi award-winning actor and director Joe Mantegna, and produced in partnership with Lenny Bruce’s daughter Kitty Bruce, “I’m Not A Comedian… I’m Lenny Bruce” was written by and stars Ronnie Marmo. For tickets and more information, please visit The performance schedule can be viewed below. 

The production will include content from Bruce’s repertoire previously unseen in Chicago.

“I believe Lenny’s is the voice this country needs right now,” said playwright and star Ronnie Marmo. “In the 1960s, he exposed many of the ‘untouchable’ subjects that are in the news again now: religion, racism, immigration, xenophobia, gender inequality, sexual identity, the criminal justice system, capital punishment, bail reform, government aid, police brutality, corrupt capitalism, the opiate epidemic, marijuana legalization, censorship, I could go on and on. So here we are, over 50 years later, all of the issues Lenny was fighting for are still so relevant and even radical. In certain ways, we’ve progressed since Lenny was with us, and in many, we have regressed.”

The story of the life and early passing of one of the most legendary comedians of all time, “I’m Not A Comedian… I’m Lenny Bruce” opened to rave reviews in Chicago in October 2019 and was enjoying an open run at the Royal George Theatre through March 15, 2020. Chris Jones with the Chicago Tribune raved “even the most devoted Bruce fan will leave impressed with Marmo,” and Hedy Weiss of WTTW called the play “brilliant” and “furiously funny.” Celebrated Chicago actress Bonnie Hunt said, “Ronnie Marmo delights as he channels Lenny Bruce. A thoughtful authenticity in performance, direction and script.”

An undisputed comic legend, Lenny Bruce was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.  His life and work have had an impact on poetry, politics, music, film and of course, comedy. Bruce’s tempestuous personal and professional life was marked by great passion and great pain. His unwavering commitment to free speech led to numerous obscenity charges and arrests. No stranger to Chicago, Bruce was arrested for obscenity for his performance at The Gate of Horn in December 1962. Bruce fought for freedom of speech all the way to the Supreme Court. He died of an accidental overdose in 1966, while out on appeal. Bruce has not yet been surpassed at his particular brand of art and if he were around today, he would be in as much trouble as when he was alive. “I’m Not a Comedian… I’m Lenny Bruce” runs approximately 90 minutes, explores mature themes and includes strong language and nudity.

Award-winning actor and comedian Billy Crystal said, “beautifully directed by Joe Mantegna with a strong performance by Ronnie Marmo, this funny, fierce and tragic work vividly brings to life the comedian we so miss today.” Famed stand-up comedian and actor Richard Lewis concurred saying, “’I’m Not A Comedian... I'm Lenny Bruce’ is superlative in all departments…it's the tour de force by actor Ronnie Marmo that for me is historic. Lenny's life pours out of him.” Patti LuPone raves “Ronnie Marmo is a force of volcanic proportions. I was riveted.” Bruce’s own daughter Kitty called the show, “The best portrayal of my father I have ever seen. Brilliant.”

The performance schedule for “I’m Not A Comedian… I’m Lenny Bruce” is as follows: Thursdays at 8 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.   There will be two preview performances November 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.  The schedule is subject to change; visit the website for the most current information.

Tickets ($69-$79 for VIP seating) are on sale now and can be purchased at or by calling the Mercury Theater Box Office at Group tickets are available via Group Theater Tix at or by calling 312-423-6612.

A portion of the show’s proceeds will go to the Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3). The foundation provides funds for those who don’t have insurance or the ability to get treatment for drug and alcohol addiction on their own. For more information please visit, All contributions are tax deductible.

About Ronnie Marmo

Ronnie Marmo (Playwright and Actor) has starred in more than 60 feature films and television shows, most recently guest starring on “Criminal Minds” and “Lethal Weapon.” He also starred in “Ammore E Malavita (Love and Bullets),” an Italian musical film which won the David di Donatello for best picture (the Italian equivalent to an Academy Award). Other credits include “Back In The Day” (on Netflix now), “Deuces Wild”, “Crocodile Dundee in LA,” “West Of Brooklyn,” “Pizza With Bullets,” “Truck 20’s Location,” “Death Of A Tree,” “Irish Eyes (aka Vendetta),” and “Limbo Lounge.” He has guest starred in several hit television shows including “JAG” and “The Young and The Restless.” He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor by the Indie Soap Awards for his role as Crotch in the series, “Adults Only.” Marmo enjoyed a three-year run on ABC’s “General Hospital” as Ronnie Dimestico. On stage, he has starred in more than 40 plays. Marmo recently completed the audiobook in which he portrays Lenny Bruce in Lenny’s autobiography, “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People.” He continues to serve as the Artistic Director of Theatre 68 (68 Cent Crew Theatre Company) in Los Angeles and New York City.

About Joe Mantegna

Joe Mantegna (Director) was awarded the Tony and Joseph Jefferson Award for his acclaimed performance as Richard Roma in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Some of Mantegna’s film and television highlights include: “House of Games,” “Searching for Bobby Fisher,” “Godfather III,” his Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated role of Dean Martin in “The Ratpack,” his Emmy-nominated role of Pipi Delana in “The Last Don” and the voice of Fat Tony on “The Simpsons.” For two seasons Mantegna starred with Mary Steenburgen and Amber Tamblyn in the critically acclaimed CBS drama “Joan of Arcadia,” which won the 2004 People Choice Award for best new drama and picked up three Emmy nominations. In 2008 Mantegna reprised his Emmy-nominated role of Lou Manahan opposite Debra Messing in the USA Network series “The Starter Wife.” Mantegna has also lent his voice to the Disney/Pixar film “CARS 2” and continues his 23-year run as Fat Tony on “The Simpsons.” In April of 2011 Mantegna received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Currently Mantegna stars as FBI Special Agent David Rossi in season thirteen of the hit CBS Drama “Criminal Minds” and continues his hosting and producing duties for six seasons on “Gun Stories” for the Outdoor Channel. His newest collaboration is “Hollywood Weapons: Fact or Fiction?” Mantegna resides in Los Angeles with his wife of 40 years, Arlene and their two daughters, Mia and Gia.

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