Joe Ancis, a brief biography,
by Joey Driven
In black on white, on a three inch square magnet stuck to my refrigerator door is a famous quote that reads, “the only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well!” The guy who said this is Joe Ancis. Every time I think on the truth in this, I wonder, ‘who in the heck is Joe Ancis?’
I hope I’m wrong, but it seems what is known of Joe Ancis in the public eye is slim. “Lenny Bruce once admitted that he owed maybe a third of his act to Ancis.” In the Lenny Bruce biography, Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce, biographer Albert Goldman states that “Lenny’s secret model,” was “Joe Ancis, ‘the funniest man in America…’ ”
An anecdote about Ancis appears in the book, Bearing the Bad News, by Sanford Pinsker as follows: Around about 1947, Lenny “Bruce met Ancis, the Ur-sick-comic, at Hanson’s, a hang out for comics…. Ancis cracked up the joint - with enough to make Walt Whitman envious, but, unlike the sonorous bard, delivered with all the manic energy that always seemed on the edge of going completely out of control but never quite did. In short, Ancis was the consummate shpritzer, an artist who had enough hidden verbal reserves to outlast even the toughest competition. What Ancis lacked, however, was the chutzpah necessary to work as a professional stand up comic. That, as it turned out, Lenny Bruce had in abundance.”
Joe Ancis delivered the fill and flattened the freeway, Lenny Bruce paved the way and Woody Allen and Cheech and Chong, et al have been riding down that road ever since. I hope to find out more about this secret legend. Anyone have anything on Ancis, I’m all ears.