“I bought that album in the summer of 2003 on my first visit to Los Angeles,” shares Luke Kirby of the first time he heard Lenny Bruce’s “The Carnegie Hall Concert.” In the season four finale of Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Kirby recreates verbatim numerous segments of Bruce’s set, which the “Maisel” team shot on the real Carnegie Hall stage. “I just drove around LA… and listened to that album obsessively,” remembers the actor, adding, “It’s a really fantastic live performance to get into.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
The Emmy-winning actor admits that he approached the opportunity of performing on the Carnegie Hall stage with “a kind of typical faux-cavalier mentality,” until he “walked into that space and felt the heft of it and the history of it.” He talks about the “poetry” of being able to reenter a performance space after they had all been dark for so many months due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he mentions that “Mrs. Maisel” was in fact the first show or act back in Carnegie Hall. Kirby describes “sharing that space” not only with the great performers who came before, but Bruce in particular, sharing, “Lenny Bruce’s lungs passed through that space,” which “really rocked me for a moment.”
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After Bruce’s set in the show, the character drags Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) onto the bare stage to try to make the fellow comic come to her senses after she turned down a gig opening for Tony Bennett. “A family member can’t really kick you into gear because of their affection for who you are,” notes Kirby, who thinks his character has the ability to “try to awaken her,” especially because “he has the long road behind him of experience.” The actor reflects on what Bruce appreciates about Midge’s comedy, noting, “I do think that Lenny sees in Midge a person exploring her truth,” but her plan to do everything her way will cause her to “lose out on the muddier, dirtier exploration of finding her truth.”
Earlier in the episode, Midge and Lenny sleep together for the first time after three prior seasons of speculation and anticipation of them starting a romantic relationship. Kirby didn’t have any reservations about the two characters crossing that line, saying, “From the beginning of this endeavor, I’ve always just entrusted Amy [Sherman-Palladino] and Dan [Palladino] to know what they’re doing.” He continues, “Every step of Midge and Lenny’s relationship has felt, to me, authentic.” The actor praises the way their coupling unfolded in the episode, describing the scene as “invested in all the things that we love about these two people: the fun, their sensitivities, their sharp brains, their wit, their sexiness, their hunger and appetite.”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” will return with a fifth and final season. Kirby very humorously declines to tease any details about the forthcoming episodes, although he admits, “I don’t really know where it’s gonna go.” In regard to whether he would like the series to further explore Bruce’s addictions before the series ends, he says, “As important as it is to touch upon that part of his life, it has been really nice to see Lenny Bruce as a man, Lenny Bruce exploring himself as an entertained… So long as we’re still endeavoring and exploring this man who loves life, then we’ll be fine.”
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