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Comedy – Stand-Up – Mort Sahl – L E’s Stories Special – “The Greatest Political Satirists Of All Time Was Will Rogers With Fangs” – Tribute To The Wisdom And Comedic Genius of Mort Sahl

 

By the time I was allowed to watch TV, other than sports and the Wonderful World of Walt Disney, it was sometime around 1957……and since TV curfew was 9pm…..I never got to see comedian Mort Sahl perform…..cuz by then, he was only appearing on late night television programs like The Tonight Show with Jack Parr…..which I was never allowed to watch, so I never saw Mort Sahl’s comedy until some 40 years later when I started video taping any and all comedy programs that aired on cable and satellite television.  By the time I went to The University of Texas in Austin in 1965…..I was finally getting into the comedic side of political satire…..and that is when I became aware of the comedic talents that Mort Sahl brought to the stage……and I began to realize the incredible impact that he had on the vast universe of comedy by the end of the decade of the 1960’s.  By the year 2021 when Mort Sahl passed away at age 94, his legacy of comedy had grown so popular that Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him 6th on their list of the Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of all time…..so, we are delighted to present the life and career of Mort Sahl in video…..and hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed posting it…..for he was truly a funny man.                                                                                                             

Comedy – 1955 – Complete Comedy Album Recording Special – “Mort Sahl: At Sunset” – The 1st Comedy Album Ever Recorded

   

Morton Lyon Sahl (May 11, 1927 – October 26, 2021) was a Canadian-born American comedian, actor, and social satirist……who is considered to be the 1st modern comedian…..as Sahl pioneered a style of social satire that pokes fun at political and current event topics using improvised monologues and only a newspaper as a prop…..which was brilliant in its ability to broaden the theatre of stand-up comedy.                                                                                                                          

Comedy & News – October 26, 2021 – Nail Sheet Special – “Mort Sahl: Legendary Comedian Dead At 94”

 

Sahl spent his early years in Los Angeles…..and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area…..where he made his professional stage debut at the hungry i nightclub in 1953.  His popularity grew quickly…..and after a year at the club he then traveled the country doing shows at established nightclubs, theaters, and college campuses…..of which he was very popular.  In 1960 he became the 1st comedian to have a cover story written about him by Time magazine …..plus he appeared on various television shows…..while playing a number of film roles…..as well as performing a one-man show on Broadway.

 

 

Comedy – 1969 – The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Special – “Mort Sahl: If You Lose Often Enough, Eventually You Will Win”

 

Television host Steve Allen said that Sahl was “the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy”…..whereas, his social satire performances broke new ground in live entertainment…..as a stand-up comic talking about the real world of politics at that time was considered “revolutionary”…..and it inspired many later comics to become stage comedians, including Lenny Bruce, Jonathan Winters, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lewis Black and Woody Allen…..whom Allen credits Sahl’s new style of humor with “opening up vistas for people like me”.

 

 

Comedy – 1960 – The Steve Allen Show Special – “Mort Sahl: The U2 Flights”   

 

 


 
Comedy – 1971 – The Steve Allen Show Special Radio Interview –
                                                                           

 

Numerous politicians became his fans, with John F. Kennedy asking him to write his jokes for campaign speeches, though Sahl later turned his barbs at the president. After Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Sahl focused on what he said were the Warren Report’s inaccuracies and conclusions…..and spoke about it often during his shows…..which alienated much of his audience…..thus leading to a decline in his popularity for the remainder of the 1960’s.  By the 1970’s, his shows and popularity staged a partial comeback that continued over the ensuing decades.  A biography of Sahl, Last Man Standing, by James Curtis, was released in 2017.                                                                                                                                                                         

 

Comedy – 1991 – The Monitor Channel Presents – Mort Sahl Live in Atlantic City, NJ                                                                

 

                                                                                                                                                                                Comedy – 1991 – The Monitor Channel Presents – Mort Sahl Live in Anaheim, CA                                                         

 

Comedy – 1991 – The Monitor Channel Presents – Mort Sahl Live in New York City, NY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                        

 Comedy – 1992 – The Monitor Channel Presents – Mort Sahl Live in Berklee-Boston

 

 

Comedy – 1992 – The Monitor Channel Presents – Mort Sahl Live in Boston                                                                   

 

Sahl was born on May 11, 1927, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada…..as the only child of Jewish parents.  His father, Harry Sahl, came from an immigrant family on New York City’s Lower East Side, and hoped to become a Broadway playwright. Harry had met his wife, Dorothy (Schwartz), when she responded to an advertisement he placed in a poetry magazine…..but unable to break into the writing field, they moved to Canada where he owned a tobacco store in Montreal.  Sahl’s family later relocated to Los Angeles, California…..where his father, unable to become a Hollywood writer, worked as a clerk and court reporter for the FBI.  Sahl notes, “My dad was disappointed in his dreams and he distrusted that world for me.”  Sahl went to Belmont High School in Los Angeles, where he wrote for the school’s newspaper…..when actor Richard Crenna was a classmate.

 

 

Comedy – 2013 – Pacifica Radio’s David Feldman Show Interview Special – “Mort Sahl: Starting Out In Comedy & JFK’s Murder Which Was Nothing Short of a CIA Coup”                                                                                      

 

When the U.S. entered World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Sahl, then aged 14, joined the school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)…..and won a medal for marksmanship…..along with an American Legion “Americanism award” Wanting to express his patriotism, he wore his ROTC uniform to school and in public and, when he turned fifteen, he dropped out of high school to join the United States Army by lying about his age. His mother tracked him down and brought him back home two weeks later after she had revealed his true age.

 

 

Comedy & News – 1975 – KCOP Ch 13 Los Angeles Special – “George Putnam & Mort Sahl: Both Sides Now”

 

Upon graduating from high school, his father tried to get him into West Point and had received his Congressman’s help but Sahl had by then already enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces. He was later stationed in Alaska with the 93rd Air Depot Group. In the military, however, he resisted the discipline and authoritarian control it exerted over his life. He expressed his nonconformity by growing a beard and refusing to wear a cap as required. He also wrote articles for a small newspaper criticizing the military that resulted in his being penalized with three months of KP duty.  In an interview, Sahl stated he found his military experience a good one, that he described as “spiritual”.   Sahl was discharged in 1947 and enrolled in Compton College…..which was followed by the University of Southern California…..where he received a B.S. degree in 1950 with majors in traffic engineering and city management…..plus, he continued with a masters program…..but dropped out to become an actor and playwright.

 

 

Movie – Entire Film – 1963 – “Johnny Cool” – Starring Henry Silva + Elizabeth Montgomery + Mort Sahl + Telly Savalas + Joey Bishop + Sammy Davis Jr.

 

 

Movie – Official Trailer – 1967 – “Don’t Make Waves” – Starring Tony Curtis + Claudia Cardinale + Sharon Tate + Mort Sahl     

 

                                                                                                                                                                

Movie – Official Trailer – 1964 – “Doctor, You’ve Got To Be Kidding”Starring George Hamilton + Sandra Dee + Celeste Holm + Bill Bixbey + Mort Sahl                                                                                                                     

 

Between 1950 and 1953 Sahl attempted to get jobs as a stand-up comedian in about 30 nightclubs throughout Los Angeles, but with no success. NBC, where he once auditioned, told him he would never succeed as a comedian.  He even offered to perform free during intermissions for the chance to show his talent. He recalled that period: “Despite all the folklore about the faith of friends in the struggling young artist, my friends constantly discouraged me.” He and a friend then rented an old theater, which they called Theater X, for “experimental,” and he began writing and staging one-act plays.  One of his plays was titled Nobody Trusted the Truth…..but unable to attract a large enough audiences, they eventually closed the theater.                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1958 – Live At The hungry i Special – “Mort Sahl: The Future Lies Ahead” – Part 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1958 – Live At The hungry i Special – “Mort Sahl: The Future Lies Ahead” – Part 2

 

For income, Sahl began doing odd jobs and writing. He worked as a used car salesman and a messenger…..and wrote a novel…..which went unpublished, and short stories.  He went to New York hoping to sell his plays…..but only managed to earn about eighteen dollars a week.  He recalled “I couldn’t get a thing going. I was working on a novel, I was out of work, and I was out of gas.”  As a result, he decided to try something different, by performing his plays as monologues.  He felt it would be easier to do his monologue on stage instead of trying to sell it to others. “I knew that if I was going to get anything done, I’d have to do it myself,” he says.  He returned to Los Angeles where he appeared at some clubs…..but his new style of monologue comedy received little attention.  In 1953 he began dating a woman named Sue Babior…..and when she moved to Berkeley to study at the University of California, Sahl hitchhiked there to be with her…..where he spent his time auditing classes and hanging out at local coffee houses.  For income, he wrote for a few avant-garde publications….. while sleeping in the back seat of a friend’s car, since Babior was living with roommates. “Things were simple then,” he said. “… All we had to worry about was the destiny of man.”  He felt at home in the San Francisco Bay Area, commenting, “I was ‘born’ in San Francisco.” He stated that the three years he lived in Berkeley were a valuable experience.

 

 


                                                                                                                                                                          Comedy – Stand-Up Routine – 1980 – Special – “Mort Sahl: Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter Stories”                                                                                                                                                         
 

Sahl sought out any clubs where he could perform as a stand-up, and Babior suggested he audition for the hungry i, a nightclub in San Francisco.  Its owner, Enrico Banducci, took an immediate liking to Sahl’s comedy style and offered him a job at $75 a week (about $720 in 2020 money)….which became his 1st steady job as a stand-up comedian.                                                                       

 

Comedy – 1954 – Recorded Album Mort Sahl at the hungry i – On Nixon; New York; The Air Force; Kruschev; Movies; The FBI”

 

Word about Sahl’s satirical comedy act spread quickly. He received good reviews from influential newspaper columnist Herb Caen that gave him instant credibility: “I don’t know where Mr. Sahl came from but I’m glad he’s here,” he wrote after watching his show.  Caen began inviting his own friends, such as film comedians Danny Kaye and Eddie Cantor, to watch Sahl’s performances. Cantor took him “under his wing” and gave him suggestions.  By the end of his 1st year at the hungry i, Sahl was earning $3,000 a week (about $29,000 a week in 2020 money)…..and performing to packed houses. Later in his career, he said, “I’d be washing cars if it weren’t for Enrico.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1965 – Special – “Mort Sahl: Great Moments In Comedy” – Part 1

 

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1965 – Special – “Mort Sahl: Great Moments In Comedy” – Part 2                                                   

 

After a year at the hungry i, Sahl began appearing at clubs throughout the country…..which included the Black Orchid and Mister Kelly’s in Chicago….. the Crescendo in Los Angeles…..and the Village Vanguard and The Blue Angel nightclub in New York City.  Many of the clubs had never before had a stand-up comedian perform…..which required Sahl to break in as a new kind of act. “I had to build up my own network of places to play,” he said.

 

 

Comedy & Talk Shows – 1971 – The Dick Cavett Show Special – Featuring Comedian Mort Sahl & Critic Jim Simon – As Sahl Threatens To Punch Simon in the Mouth

 

Woody Allen said of Sahl….”He was the best thing I ever saw.  There was a need for revolution, everybody was ready for revolution, but some guy had to come along who could perform the revolution and be great.  Mort was the one.  He was the tip of the iceberg. Underneath were all the other people who came along: Lenny Bruce, Nichols & May, all the Second City.  Mort was the vanguard of the group.”                                                                                                        

Comedy – 2014 – Audio Recording Woody Allen: The Stand-Up Years (1964 – 1968) Special – “Mort Sahl: Changed The History Of Comedy”

Numerous celebrities dropped by to see his shows after they heard about the “new phenomenon,” referring to Sahl’s unique style of comedy. Woody Allen, who saw his show at the Blue Angel in 1954, commented that “he was suddenly this great genius that appeared who revolutionized the medium.” British comedy actor John Cleese became immediately interested in Sahl’s radical style of humor…..and accorded to him the same level of respect that The Beatles once reserved for Elvis Presley.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

Comedy – 2021 – An America’s Untold Stories Mark Groubert and Eric Hunley Explore Mort Sahl’s Legendary 70+ Year Career – “Mort Sahl: The Comic Vs The CIA” – As Sahl Risked His Entire Career Working Hand-In-Hand with Jim Garrison to Investigate the Assassination of John F Kennedy and Was in Continuous Contention with the CIA.                                                                                                                                          

 

Television host Steve Allen, who originated the Tonight Show, said he was “struck by how amateur he seemed,” but added that the observation was not meant as a criticism, but as a “compliment”…..as he noted that all the previous successful comics dressed formally, were glib and well-rehearsed….. and were always in control of their audiences.  Allen said that Sahl’s “very un-show business manner was one of the things I liked when I first saw him work.”

 

 

Comedy & News – 1966 – KPIX Los Angeles Press Conference – Featuring Mort Sahl

 

Sahl dressed casually, with no tie and usually wearing his trademark V-neck campus-style sweater…..as his stage presence was seen as being “candid and cool, the antithesis of the slick comic,” stated theater critic Gerald Nachman …..and albeit Sahl acquired a reputation for being an intellectual comedian, it was an image he disliked and disagreed with saying “It was absurd. I was barely a C student,” he said. His naturalness on stage was partly due to his preferring improvisation over carefully rehearsed monologues…..as Sahl explained, “I never found you could write the act…..as you  can’t rehearse the audience’s responses. You adjust to them every night.  I come in with only an outlilne.  You’ve got to have a spirit of adventure.  I follow my instincts and the audience is my jury.”  His casual style of stand-up where he seemed to be one-on-one with his audience, influenced new comedians, including Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory…..while Sahl was the least controversial…..however, because he dressed and looked “collegiate” and focused on politics…..while Bruce confronted sexual and language conventions…..and Gregory focused on the civil rights movement.  After seeing Mort Sahl on stage, Woody Allen, whose writings were often about his personal life, decided to give it a try saying “I’d never had the nerve to talk about it before. Then Mort Sahl came along with a whole new style of humor, opening up vistas for people like me.”

 

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: Look Forward In Anger” – Part 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: Look Forward In Anger” – Part 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Commenting on Sahl’s monologues, Nachman described him as a “gifted narrator, so good at taking you along on his travels that you didn’t quite realize until the show was over that you had been on a labyrinthine journey.”The speed with which Sahl gave his monologues was also notable…..as British film critic Penelope Gilliatt recalled how Sahl’s improvisation “goes on a breakneck stammering loop and you think it will never make the circle. It always does.”  For her it was like watching a circus act……as “He freewheels a bike on a high wire tightrope with his brain racing and his hands off the handlebars.”

 

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 1                                                       

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 2                                                    

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 3                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 5                                                             

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 6

 

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 7                                                                  

 

                                                              

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1960 – Special – “Mort Sahl: The Next President” – Part 8                                                                 

 

Sahl’s popularity “mushroomed like an Atomic cloud during the 50’s,” says filmmaker Robert B. Weide…..while adding, “Simply put, Mort Sahl reinvented stand-up comedy.”  Time magazine in 1960 published a cover story about him and his rise to fame…..in which they described him as “the best of the New Comedians [and] the first notable American political satirist since Will Rogers.”  Along with his nightclub performances, he appeared in some films and on television shows, including his network debut on The NBC Comedy Hour in May 1956.  He was one of the interim hosts on The Tonight Show following Jack Paar‘s departure as the network waited for Johnny Carson to become available.

 

 

 

Comedy & Talk Show – 1984 – Steve Allen’s Comedy Room Show #1 – Featuring Mort Sahl + Bill Maher + Sid Caesar + Shecky Greene + Joe Baker Sitting Around Talking Comedy                                                                   

 

His audience had also widened to include not only students and a “hip” public…..but now even noted politicians sought out his shows…..and some became friends, such as presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, who asked him to prepare a bank of political jokes he could use at public functions. Kennedy liked his style of political satire and what he described as Sahl’s “relentless pursuit of everybody.”  Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey  were fans…..with Humphrey stating that “whenever there is a political bloat, Mort sticks a pin in it.”  Sahl considered Ronald Reagan one of his closest friends.  They valued the fact that he stayed current and took material from major newspapers and magazines…..as he kept his material fresh, wrote few notes, and entertained his audiences by presenting otherwise serious news with his brand of humor.  He was not fond of television news, however, which he blamed in 1960 for “spoon-feeding” the public…..and was therefore responsible for the “corruption and ignorance that may sink this country.”  As a result of Sahl’s popularity, besides getting on the cover of Time, he also became the 1st comedian to make a record album…..the 1st to do college concerts…..and was the 1st comedian to win a Grammy.                                                                                                                                                              

 

Comedy – 1960 – The Milton Berle Show Special – “Mort Sahl Bowls For His Favorite Charity”

 

 

Comedy – 1967 – News Media Interview of Mort Sahl Special – “JFK: When You Ask Who Killed Him You’re Silenced” – Mort Sahl on Being Fired over Jim Garrison                                                                                                   

 

Comedy – 1964 – The Steve Allen Show Special – “Mort Sahl: Lenny Bruce Stories”

 

Following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Sahl’s interest in who was responsible was so great that he became a deputized member of District Attorney of New Orleans Jim Garrison’s team to investigate the assassination. As a result, Sahl’s comedy would often reflect his politics and included readings and commentary about the Warren Commission Report…..of which he consistently disputed the accuracy…..so, he alienated much of his audience…..and was effectively blacklisted…..with and more of his planned shows being cancelled.  His income dropped from $1 million to $13,000 by 1964.  According to Nachman, the excessive focus on the Kennedy assassination details was Sahl’s undoing and wrecked his career. Sahl later admitted that “there’s never been anything that had a stronger impact on my life than this issue,” but added that he nonetheless “thought it was a wonderful quest.”                                                                                                                          

Comedy – 1965 – The Hollywood Palace Show Special – “Hostess Kate Smith Introduces Comedian Mort Sahl”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Comedy – 1961 To 1964 – Our Hidden History Special – “Mort Sahl: The Kennedy Years”  

 

Comedy & News – 2013 – ABC Tom Brokaw Interview from The Throckmorton Theatre, Mill Valley, CA Special – “Mort Sahl:  John F Kennedy’s Personality and Mind”                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                    By the 1970’s, the rising tide of counterculture eventually fueled Sahl’s partial comeback as a veteran comedian…..and he was included with the new comedians breaking into the field…..such as George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Pryor. In the 1980’s he headlined for Banducci’s new clubs in San Francisco…..plus, he was trying to write screenplays…..in addition to doing sporadic shows around the country.  In 1987 he had a successful multiweek run in Australia.                                                                                                                                            

 

Comedy – 1970 – Recorded Interview by Alan Farley Special – “Comedian Mort Sahl: On JFK, MLK, RFK & Garrison – The Cause is Humanity”

 

 

Comedy & Talk Shows – 1986 – The Merv Griffin Show Special – “Mort Sahl: Telling The Story of President Reagan’s Telephone To God”   

 

 


 
Comedy – 1974 – Milton Berle’s Wide Wide Wide World of Comedy Special – “Mort Sahl: Where I Get My Material”

                                                                                                                                                                    

In 1983, the Los Angeles Times said, “Mort Sahl has charted one of the most precipitous courses in American entertainment for the last 30 years and has gone from celebrity to internal exile.  There was no precedent for what he did.  There were no prototypes.  He’s a genuinely sel-created man and a true existential in that sense.  Once he passes from the scene, people will begin to lionize him and call him the great American and take to heart all the things he said”                                                                                                                           

 

 

Comedy – 1970 – Live Radio Interview on KOST-FM Los Angeles Special – “Confrontation” Hosted by Ben Thumb and Dick Trubo – “An Hour With Mort Sahl”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 


 
Comedy – 1972 – The Rowan & Martin Laugh-In Show Special – “Mort Sahl: Questions And Answer Session”   

                                                                                                                              

In 1988 Sahl was back in New York City and performed a one-man Off-Broadway show, Mort Sahl’s America, which, despite getting good reviews from critics, was not a box office success.  The New York Times stated, “History has returned Mort Sahl to the spotlight when he is most needed. His style has an intuitive spontaneity. His presence is tonic.”  Robert Weide produced a biographical documentary, Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition, which ran on PBS in 1989…..albeit Sahl found his previous level of success increasingly difficult to recapture.  One Los Angeles Times critic wrote, “Sahl is a man with a country but not a stage.”  A number of television specials gave him a venue to perform in front of live audiences.  Beginning in November 1991, the Monitor Channel broadcast a series of eight shows called Mort Sahl Live

                                                                                                                         

 

Comedy & Talk Shows – 1988 To 2002 – Late Night With David Letterman Special – “Mort Sahl: Collection on Letterman”                                                                                                                                                                              

 

Comedy – 1991 – A Mort Sahl Live Special – “Mort Sahl: How To Make A Movie”                                                                    

 

From the 1990’s on he performed, but less often and mostly in theaters and college auditoriums.  When Woody Allen saw him perform in 2001 at one of his rare New York club appearances, Allen told him, “this is crazy – you should be working all the time.”  Allen then called his manager Jack Rollins: “Listen, this guy is hilarious. We gotta bring him to New York.” Sahl then did shows at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan to standing-room only audiences.

 

 

Comedy & Movies – 1993 – Special – Movie Director Sam Peckinpah’s Assistant Katy Haber Introduces and Interviews Mort Sahl – Who Was Supposed to Play a Key Role in Peckinpah Movie “Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia” in 1974

 

In 2008, Sahl performed at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill on 42nd Street with Woody Allen, Elaine May, and Dick Cavett in attendance.

 

 

Comedy – 2008 – Live at B.B. King’s in Memphis Special – “Mort Sahl: Working in his 80’s”

 

 

Comedy & News – 2008 – MSNBC Live’s Keith Obermann Interviews Mort Sahl – Who Criticizes MSNBC Live And Is Never Invited Back

 

Sahl was ranked # 40 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time…..while being ranked between Billy Crystal and Jon Stewart.  In 2003 he received the Fifth Annual Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.  In 2011, the Library of Congress placed his 1955 recording, At Sunset, on the National Recording Registry.

 

 

 

Comedy – Recorded Album – 1996 – “Mort Sahl’s America” with Senator Eugene McCarthy

 

Sahl’s humor was based on current events, especially politics…..which led Milton Berle to describe him as “one of the greatest political satirists of all time.”  His trademark persona was to enter the stage with a newspaper in hand, casually dressed inSenator Eugene McCarthy a V-neck sweater. He would often recite some news stories combined with satire.  He was dubbed “Will Rogers with fangs” by Time magazine in 1960.  Sahl would discuss people or events almost as if he were reporting them for the 1st time…..and would digress into related stories or his own experiences. TV executive Roger Ailes said he saw him read the paper one day and after a few hours Sahl got up onstage with an entire evening’s worth of new material. “With no writers, he just did what he had seen in the afternoon paper. He was a genius.”  Sahl’s presentation of news commentary as a form of social satire created a wide assortment of celebrity and political fans, including Adlai Stevenson,  Marlene Dietrich, S.J. Perelman, Saul Bellow and Leonard Bernstein…..while Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. said his popularity was due to the public’s “yearning for youth, irreverence, trenchancy, satire, [and] a clean break with the past.”  And Steve Allen introduced him on one of his shows as being “the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy.”

 

 

 Comedy – 2013 – Pacifica Radio’s David Feldman Show Special – “Mort Sahl: JFK, RFK & 911”                                      

 

Combined with his improvisational skill, Sahl’s naturalness was also considered unique for a stage performer.  Woody Allen notes that other comics were jealous of Sahl’s stage persona…..and did not understand how he could perform by simply talking to the audience.  Nachman stated that the “mere idea of a stand-up comic talking about the real world was in itself revolutionary …… [and] the comedians who followed him – Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Dick Gregory, Phyllis Diller, Shelley Berman, Jonathan Winters – were cast in a familiar nightclub mold.”

 

 

Comedy & Talk Shows – 2015 – The Elliot Mintz Show Special – “Mort Saul:  On Women + The Misfits + Marilyn Monroe”                                                                                                                                                                      

 

Comedy & Talk Shows – 2015 – The Elliot Mintz Show Special – “Mort Saul:  On The Saddest Part of Fame”         

                                

Comedy & Talk Shows – 2015 – The Elliot Mintz Show Special – “Mort Saul:  On the Death of His 19 Years Old Son”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

Comedy & Talk Shows – 2015 – The Elliot Mintz Show Special – “Mort Saul:  On The JFK Assassination”                                

 

In the September 28, 1960 Peanuts comic strip, Schroeder is reading aloud to Lucy from a biography on his all-time favorite composer, Ludwig van Beethoven…..where he describes his idol as someone who “would sometimes startle people in public places,” then would at times “flew out in anger against all that was petty, dull, or greedy in men., [and] Often, however, his scorn would turn to high hilarity and humorous jests.”  Lucy then asks, “Are you reading about Beethoven or Mort Sahl?”

 

 

Comedy – 2015 – Set List, Stand-Up Without a Net! Special – “Mort Saul: An Improvised Stand-Up Routine On Topics Provided To Him On The Spot”                                                                                                                         

 

Sahl was married three times. He wedded Sue Babior in 1955; the marriage ended in divorce less than three years later.  In the early 1960’s his steady girlfriend was Tippi Hedren.  In 1967, he married actress and model China Lee and they divorced in 1991.  They had one son, Mort Sahl Jr., who died in 1996, aged 19, from an unknown drug-related reaction.  In 1997, he married Kenslea Ann Motter; they divorced around 2009.  He regretted the end of their marriage and said “I’m sorry I divorced Kenslea; I’m still in love with my wife. If you love a woman it’ll make her a better woman.”

 

 

Comedy – Stand-Up Routine – 1974 – Live on TV Special – “Mort Sahl: On Watergate”                                                          

 

In 1976, Sahl wrote an autobiography called Heartland.  In June 2007, a number of star comedians, including George Carlin and Jonathan Winters, gave Sahl an 80th birthday tribute.  In 2008, Sahl moved from Los Angeles to Mill Valley, California, a suburb of San Francisco…..where he became friends with comedian Robin Williams…..who lived nearby.  Until the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Sahl worked every Thursday night taking questions from a live audience and from Periscope/Twitter.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Comedy – 1980 – Stand-Up Routine Special – “Mort Sahl: On Ronald Reagan President & Jimmy Carter”

 

Sahl died of natural causes at his home in Mill Valley on October 26, 2021, at the ripe old age of 94…..albeit I was never a fan or follower of Mort Sahl…. the fact remains that I do know his name because my Mom and Dad would change the TV channel I was watching to switch channels and watch Mort Sahl on TV in the 1950’s and early 1960’s…..but I was a strapping teenager who had other things on his mind than political satire…..but suffice to say, Mort Sahl was well thought of in our household.  However, after reviewing all the videos posted in this story, along with being a huge stand-up comedy fan….and I have got to say…..Mort was really funny….and he had a way of making you think about what he had said.  Sahl started doing stand-up in the 1950’s, which was a time when most comedians were men in suits rattling off one-liners……whereas Sahl, by contrast, wore a V-neck sweater, tucked a newspaper under his arm, and just … talked. His savage humor spared no one…..young, old, people on the right and the left.  When Sahl was 33, Time called him “a sort of Will Rogers with fangs.”…..for they both were exceptional storytellers.  One of my favorite stories that I saw and heard him tell in the videos herewith goes like this….“I was walking through Central Park,” he told an audience in 1960. “There were some delinquents there who stopped me — a gang of kids with knives. And I stood my ground and told them I admired their vagabond existence and I wanted to join ’em. And they panicked from the responsibility.”  One of Sahl’s fans was a teenage Woody Allen…..who later in life described Sahl as “just dazzling,” and said the satirist talked about things that mattered to young, 1950’s audiences.  Mort Sahl was as fearless as he was funny who pioneered stand-up comedy for 75+ years…..and we here at ImaSportsPhile as proud to present his story in video and script.

 

 

 

Comedy – 1950 To 2020 – Special – “A Pictoral and Text Tribute To Mort Sahl”

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