If there was a single person/force who it could be said best precipitated the 60's, from the Free Speech Movement to rock 'n' roll's development as a world moral force to the general loosening up of obsolete sexual morays, it had to have been Lenny Bruce. Sure "dirty-mouthed" comics existed before and during Lenny's time but they weren't infusing their act with the kind of social critique Lenny did. Which is why the authorities hounded Lenny to death.
"Sticks and stones did not break his bones, names never really hurt him. But they broke his heart and they silenced his voice we needed so urgently, then and now, and the malicious, stupid motherfuckers still don't realize that they killed one of our few heroes."
There's a new documentary out on Lenny from A* video that looks good from the clips we've seen. The social comic's philosophy can be gleaned from his biography, the classic HOW TO TALK DIRTY AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. Also, newly out is The (Almost) Unpublished Lenny Bruce, and anthology of the man's articles and columns (for $10 from The Realist, Box 1230, Venice, CA 90294.)