December 30, 2017

a world I never knew

Speech was a required course in my high school and the “look at me” aspect of my personality adapted well to speechifying. I found the class an easy ‘A’. So my senior year I found I had just about enough credits to graduate if I took four classes a day. Besides the required Government/Social Studies class I took stuff I enjoyed: band, English, French, and though I did not need another class I took advanced Speech.

We covered a range of subjects in the class from debate to Roberts Rules of Order to various types of speech to acting. The class was small, maybe a dozen kids and sometimes we just discussed the events of the day. We learned to communicate. I probably enjoyed that class as much as any in my public school days and that speech class forced me to break me out of my anonymous shy boy shell.

One day the teacher brought in a box set of albums. It was recordings of Lenny Bruce. The teacher tried to give the historic background to Bruce’s comedy. But in the spring of 1980 the comedy was too cerebral, to East Coast, too dated, and had lost the edge it had in the late 1950’s. It wasn’t crude nor risqué compared to contemporary SNL or comedy of National Lampoon.  I just didn't find it funny. The school administration also likely would have even less than amused had they known Mr. Henderson was playing records with curse words to 17 and 18 year-olds at school. Still, it exposed kids in a hick farm town in  the middle of nowhere Indiana to a wider world. Isn’t that the point of education?


DaBlade said...

"the spring of 1980"... looks like I was just a year ahead of you. I would have loved that teacher of yours, though I'm not sure I would have dug Lenny Bruce back then. Steve Martin was my comedy god. And Red Skelton and Jonathon Winters (for some reason) when I was just a wee lad.

Joe said...

I didn’t really get Bruce. I was a Belushi man in those old days

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