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Comedian Lenny Bruce was harassed to death for attempting to use common language on nightclub stages to tell honestly funny stories about real life. That he tried—and eventually was tried—at a time when even the word “pregnant” was deemed inappropriate for polite company was both brave and foolhardy. Consider that Bruce was judged too obscene for New York City—and this was when Times Square was wall-to-wall sex shops and strip clubs. Indeed, even the New York Times wondered whether his act was “legitimate night-club fare.” In his aftermath, of course, every two-bit comic can say “fuck” as often as he wants, even on TV, though nothing any joker can say has any of the meaning or impact that Bruce conveyed in such shockingly provocative routines as “Eleanor Roosevelt’s Tits.” When Bruce ended a performance with the heartfelt “And so, because I love you, fuck you and good night,” it was dangerous and witty. In their book The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon, authors Ronald Collins (pictured) and David Skover offer a legal biography of Bruce and his legacy—specifically why his many free-speech battles never resulted in any meaningful legislation or “Lenny Bruce precedent” court rulings, and how, after death, rebel Bruce became a mainstream figure, a “free speech hero who didn’t want to be one.” The book comes with a CD, helpfully providing excerpts from Bruce’s better-known routines, as well as commentary by the likes of Hugh Hefner, George Carlin, and Margaret Cho. The authors are in town at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Dave Nuttycombe)