Your Daily Short: Lenny Bruce in 'Thank You Mask Man' (1971)

Welcome to Your Daily Short, a new feature on that will highlight and stream a short film at high noon. Every weekday. Every week.

THE FILM: “Thank You Mask Man” (directed by Jeff Hale) 1971


Lenny Bruce didn't tell jokes but he did do bits.

Like the beboop jazz musician he was, he would grab a theme and riff on them a mile a minute, his ethnic voices and spontaneously generated characters similar to Charlie Parker's trills and head-fake melodies. His best bit is his break down of what makes someone Jewish or "Goyish." (If you live in a big city and are Catholic, you are Jewish, Lenny Bruce says. "No duh," the only proper response.)

The ultimate Goy to Bruce was the Lone Ranger - a real schmuck. He wouldn't even wait around for a thank you. "Thank you, masked man!" the townspeople would cry, but he would already be off. You think that would annoy a small town? I mean, what if they baked him a cake?

This tangent led to one of Bruce's most famous bits, which was turned into "Thank You Mask Man," a short animated film by Jeff Hale in 1971.

Note: if you aren't schooled in modern jazz, Judaism or marijuana, you may not think much of this film. Trust me, though, it's brilliant - you just have to work at it. Calling Tonto "Tanta" is funny.

Second Note: don't be alarmed by the homophobia. "Fag!" is used for a laugh line, but Bruce is "in character." Neither he nor the film is exhibiting prejudice, in my opinion, but your mileage may vary, as they say.

Watch yesterday's Daily Short: “(nostalgia)’”Do you have a favorite short film that you would like us to feature as Your Daily Short? Whether it’s something you love, something you made, or both, send it along to and you might see it on the site!