Mort Sahl Speaker Profile
Mort Sahl Booking Agent Information
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Mort Sahl Biography
Mort Sahl was one of a kind — a razor-sharp trailblazer of biting, critical comedy in the 1950s and 1960s. He found social satire to be a way to vent, to attack stupidity, and to get audiences to think. No other comedians at the time had his wit, his nervous, staccato delivery, and his ...>>Read More
Mort Sahl was one of a kind — a razor-sharp trailblazer of biting, critical comedy in the 1950s and 1960s. He found social satire to be a way to vent, to attack stupidity, and to get audiences to think.
No other comedians at the time had his wit, his nervous, staccato delivery, and his dead-on hits on contemporary issue targets. Latter-day comedians such as Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, and Jay Leno found him to be an inspiration. Born Morton Lyon Sahl in 1927 in Quebec, and soon thereafter moving to Los Angeles, California, Sahl was an average model child. There was no indication of what he would later become for the world. As a boy, he was an ROTC member and won an American Legion Americanism Award; his father worked as a court reporter and later, as an FBI administrator. In his late teens, Sahl was drafted and stationed at an Alaskan Air Force base where he was on the bases newspaper staff. Later, he graduated in 1950 the University of Southern California, with a major in city management and traffic engineering. But he realized he loved writing. He tried his hand at it unsuccessfully for a few years, and nearly starved. So, he tried stand-up comedy with a group called the Hungry i (the i stood for intellectual). He discovered his niche. While 1950s audiences initially despised and misunderstood his unorthodox style of comedy, they soon grew to laud it. Sahl eventually became the darling of the nightclub circuit. He skewered sacred cows at every turn, holding his arrows back neither for liberals nor conservatives. He became one of the first comedians with a best-selling record. He was the first to poke fun at U.S. presidents and other government dignitaries, shocking and delighting audiences. He escaped the ho-hum delivery of many comedians with his casual, free-flowing style and nervous giggle. He never resorted to tired one-liners and never talked down to his audience. One of Sahls trademarks was carrying a rolled newspaper up on stage with him. His act was always fresh because it impaled controversial current events. He delighted in offending everyone. For a number of years, Sahl rode high on the wave of lucrative recordings, posh club bookings, a prestigious 1960 cover story in Time magazine, and a handful of films. But the disapproving-and-powerful Ed Sullivan refused to let Sahl tell his Kennedy jokes on his variety show. Not long after, Sahls popularity began to erode. The venting and the sarcasm and the activism began to weary audiences. In 1963, the assassination of Pres. Kennedy deeply affected Sahl. He spoke out loudly and often about a conspiracy and against the Warren Commission. His wobbly career took a nosedive — he was no longer funny. For years, Sahl struggled to find paying work. Then, the emotional controversy of the Vietnam years and Kent State and Haight-Ashbury in the latter 1960s made him cool again. He was a sought-after guest on TV talk shows, like those of Steve Allen and Merv Griffin, and was received warmly by CBSs naughty boys, Tom and Dick Smothers, a kindred duo of boat-rockers with their own show, The Smothers Brothers Show. He never regained his crown as the prince of comedy, but as the years passed, he did all right. He wrote film screenplays for top stars, opened a successful 1988 one-man Broadway show, appeared in Broadway and off-Broadway productions, released more recordings, wrote a few books, and performed into the 21st century his always-keen raillery for a new generation of audiences. While much older, Sahl was still hip.
Mort Sahl Speaking Videos
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