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Radical Riff

How comedians of the 1960s and ’70s revolutionized stand-up

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Much has been written about the music, literature, art, and film—from Bob Dylan’s rambling, raspy ballads to Philip Roth’s neurotic, confessional novels—that both fueled and reflected cultural change in the 1960s.

In Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-Up in the 1970s Changed America, Richard Zoglin, a reporter for Time magazine, argues that a generation of comics should also be considered essential to that cultural revolution. His story begins with Lenny Bruce, ends with Jerry Seinfeld, and includes yeshiva dropout David Steinberg and pioneer comedienne Elayne Boosler.

Zoglin speaks with Nextbook about how Bruce and others made the leap from Borscht Belt shtick to a new, raw, and convention-flouting form of stand-up. [end]

Lenny Bruce, Robert Klein, and Elayne Boosler
Lenny Bruce, Robert Klein, and Elayne Boosler

Lenny Bruce and Robert Klein: Photofest. Elayne Boosler courtesy of Elayne Boosler.

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Radical Riff

How comedians of the 1960s and ’70s revolutionized stand-up

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