Salon published an interesting pair of articles on comedy trailblazers. The first, uses the recent Lenny Bruce box set Let The Buyer Beware as an impetus to find ten comics today who not so much carry Bruce’s torch but use it to set fire to everything wrong on this planet. Just like Bruce would. Number one turns out to be Howard Stern, which by admission of the author seems a little off. His main rationale for selecting the “King of All Media” isn’t so much funny as Stern’s current fight with the FCC and Clear Channel. With Rick Shapiro, who’s perhaps more infamous for his flameouts than his act, being second, it’s a very Passion-of-the-Christ-kind of way of looking at Bruce’s work. If you’re a comedy nerd, don’t celebrate how Lenny died, celebrate how Lenny slayed audiences.
The second article talks about a young devout Muslim female comic named Shazia Mirza. Though she can be incredibly fearless (her 9/11 bit: “My name is Shazia Mirza—at least that’s what it says on my pilot’s license”), from what I’ve heard the rest of her act is pretty tame. Though a 28-year virgin, she’ll make the same kind of jokes common to female (and male) comics about how her assets don’t seem to attract the opposite sex. Yawn. It’s cross-connects my humor wires a little. In another article of Lenny Bruce, Bill Maher says “One generation plants the trees, another gets the shade.” Shazia is definitely a tree planter, but I suspect I’m going to enjoy the shade a lot more. But I’ll reserve judgment at least until I catch a full live set. Until then, I’m TiVoing the November 12 edition of Comedy Central’s World Stands Up, which will feature her. You can preview that set here. And you can find a pre-concerns-about-integrity 60 Minutes story on her here.