Mort Sahl: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mort Sahl
Born May 11, 1927 (1927-05-11) (age 82)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Medium stand-up, film
Nationality American
Years active 1953-present
Genres Satire/Political satire, Improvisational comedy
Subject(s) American politics, American culture
Influences Will Rogers
Influenced George Carlin, Chris Rock, Dick Gregory, Charles Manson, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Jay Leno, Cardell Willis, Will Durst, Bill Hicks
Spouse Sue Babior (1955-1958)

China Lee (1967-1991)
Kenslea Sahl (1997-present)
Notable works and roles Mort Sahl at the hungry i
Sing a Song of Watergate: Apocraphyl of Lie
Website www.mortsahl.com

Morton Lyon "Mort" Sahl (born May 11, 1927) is a Canadian-born American comedian and actor. He is credited with pioneering a style of stand-up comedy that paved the way for Lenny Bruce, Nichols and May, and Dick Gregory.[citation needed] He also occasionally wrote jokes for speeches delivered by President John F. Kennedy.

Contents

Life and career

Sahl, whose father Harry was a court reporter-turned-FBI Administrator, was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[1] The family soon moved to Los Angeles, California. Sahl joined the ROTC unit at Belmont High School (Los Angeles, California) and also was on the staff of the school's newspaper, the Belmont Sentinel. Actor Richard Crenna was one of his classmates. After high school, Sahl enlisted in the United States Air Force and was stationed in Alaska. In 1950, he graduated from University of Southern California in with majors in traffic engineering and city management. In a speech given at Claremont McKenna's Athenaeum in 2008, Sahl claimed to have attended West Point. He then began performing stand up comedy at Enrico Banducci's hungry i nightclub in San Francisco, where his audience sometimes threw peanuts and pennies at him.

Sahl's humor has always been based on current events, especially politics. He broke new ground in the late 1950s and early 1960s by looking to the day's newspaper headlines for many of his monologues rather than relying on one-liners. His trademark was to appear on stage with a newspaper in hand, casually dressed in a pullover sweater. John Whiting, who knew him at the time, tells of riding with him over from Berkeley to the hungry i in his clapped out Jag.

“He stopped on the way and picked up the evening Examiner,” Whiting recalls. “He didn’t even glance at the front page. I was with him the whole time until he went on stage, when he opened it up, scanned it and just took off on a riff. I sat through the whole evening’s routines and they were all different.

“After the last show we drove back to Berkeley. He was so high that he continued monologing as if he were still on stage, We went to an all night burger joint/pool hall on Durant and he continued talking non-stop ‘til about four a.m. He was like some sort of tireless super-intelligence from outer space – as close to genius as anyone I’ve ever known.”

When John F. Kennedy, a personal friend, became President, Sahl began making jokes that were critical of Kennedy's policies. Television host Ed Sullivan refused to let Sahl tell any Kennedy jokes on his popular The Ed Sullivan Show, which meant Sahl was seldom seen on TV during the next few years.

Following Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Sahl's interest in who was behind it was so great that he became a deputized member of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's team to investigate the murder. As a result, Sahl's comedy began to reflect his politics and included readings and commentary on the Warren Commission Report. His earlier anti-Kennedy jokes and his onstage tirades against the Warren Commission, alienated much of his audience. He was effectively blacklisted when his shows were cancelled. Sahl's income dropped to US$19,000 a year. (According to the Inflation Calculator of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $19,000 in 1964 was the equivalent of $134,000 in 2008.) However, the rising tide of counterculture fueled his comeback.

In 1976, Sahl wrote an autobiography called "Heartland". It is a bitter account of his rise in comedy, his obsession with the Kennedy assassination, his decline in show business, and his long time friendship with Hugh Hefner. In 1979 he briefly hosted an afternoon talk show on WRC Radio, in Washington, D.C.

During the 1980s, Sahl made many jokes critical of his old friend, Ronald Reagan. Sahl and his wife were invited to the White House by Nancy Reagan, where President Reagan roasted him at a White House tribute in front of many other top comedians. Sahl said to television interviewer Charlie Rose of the Reagans, "They are very, very forgiving."

In the 1988 presidential election, Sahl was the most prominent supporter of unsuccessful candidate Alexander Haig.[2]

Personal life

Sahl was married to Playboy Playmate China Lee from 1967 until their divorce in 1991. They had one son, Mort Sahl Jr., who died March 27, 1996 at the age of 19.

Recognition

Mort is listed #40 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest standup comedians of all time.

Sahl, who is Jewish, received the Fifth Annual Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor (2003) from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Woody Allen has said, "I adored Mort Sahl," and added he would not have become a comedian himself if not for Sahl's example, which proved a comedian could succeed with off-hand intellectual material. He compared Sahl's influence on comedy to the effect Charlie Parker had on jazz.[3] "I still find Mort Sahl funny," Allen said in 2008. "I was with him the other day, in California, and he’s 81 and he’s teaching at Claremont [McKenna] College. And he said they have a course out there that they offered him to teach, on the Holocaust, and he didn’t take it. He said, 'I wanted to see first how history judges the event.'"[4]

Work

Advertisements

Discography

  • At Sunset (1955)
  • The Future Lies Ahead (1958)
  • 1960 or Look Forward in Anger (1960)
  • At the Hungry i (1960)
  • The Next President (1960)
  • A Way of Life (1960)
  • Great Moments of Comedy with Mort Sahl
  • The New Frontier (1961)
  • On Relationships (1961)
  • Anyway... Onward (1967)
  • Sing a Song of Watergate (1973)
  • Mort Sahl's America (1997)

Filmography

  • Looking for Lenny (2008)
  • Sabrina (1995)
  • Nothing Lasts Forever (1984) .... Uncle Mort
  • Inside the Third Reich (1982) (TV) .... Werner Finck
  • Don't Make Waves (1967) .... Sam Lingonberry
  • Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding (1967) .... Dan Ruskin
  • Johnny Cool (1963) .... Ben Morrow
  • All the Young Men (1960) .... Cpl. Crane
  • In Love and War (1958) .... Danny Krieger

Quotations

About his ideology: "I'm not a liberal, I'm a radical!"

About liberals and conservatives: "Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen."

About politics and evolution: "There were four million people in the American Colonies and we had Jefferson and Franklin. Now we have over 200 million and the two top guys are Clinton and Dole. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong!"

About George W. Bush: "He's the face on the can. But who canned that soup?"

About Richard M. Nixon: "Would you buy a used car from this man?"

About Wernher von Braun: "He aimed for the stars and often hit London."

About cosmetic surgery: "There's so much Botox around now that you can't tell when a Jewish girl is angry!"

About comedy: "It has changed. It isn't funny anymore!"

On the House Committee on Un-American Activities: "Every time the Russians throw an American in jail, the Committee throws an American in jail to get even."

To Otto Preminger about his film Exodus: "Otto — let my people go" (reputed — referring to its 220 minute length)

Asked his motto: "If you can't join them, beat them."

"If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you will eventually be accused of treason." — From the recording Mort Sahl at the hungry i

Sahl once told a story about flying with JFK on Air Force One. When they encountered some turbulence, JFK commented to Sahl that if the plane went down, everyone aboard would probably be killed, adding that, "Your name would be in very small print!"

References

  1. ^ http://www.filmreference.com/film/44/Mort-Sahl.html
  2. ^ Ken Silverstein (September/October 1999). "Still in Control". Mother Jones. http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1999/09/haig.html. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  3. ^ Woody Allen on Woody Allen rev. ed. (New York: Grove, 2004) 30-1.
  4. ^ "In Conversation: Woody Allen". 2008. http://nymag.com/anniversary/40th/50661/index2.html. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Mort Sahl (born 11 May 1927) is a Montreal-born stand-up comedian. After serving in the Air Force Sahl graduated from the University of Southern California where he had majored in city management and traffic engineering[1]. Sahl is a comedian and political satirist.

Contents

Attributed

Politics

  • Remember that no matter how selfish, how cruel, how unfeeling you have been today, every time you take a breath, you make a flower happy.
  • About his ideology, "I'm not a Liberal, I'm a Radical!"
  • About Liberals and Conservatives, "Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen."
  • About Politics & Evolution, "There were four million people in the American Colonies and we had Jefferson and Franklin. Now we have over 200 million and the two top guys are Clinton and Dole. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong!"
  • About George W. Bush, "He's the face on the can. But who canned that soup?"
  • About Cosmetic Sugery, "There's so much Botox around now that you can't tell when a Jewish girl is angry!"
  • Washington couldn't tell a lie, Nixon couldn't tell the truth, and Reagan couldn't tell the difference. (1987)[2][3]
  • Reagan won because he ran against Jimmy Carter. If he ran unopposed he would have lost.[2]
  • A conservative is someone who believes in reform. But not now.[2][4]
  • Nixon's the kind of guy that if you were drowning 50 feet off shore, he'd throw you a 30 foot rope. Then Kissinger would go on TV the next night and say that the President had met you more than half-way. (1973)[3]

Relationships

  • In the forties, to get a girl you had to be a GI or a jock. In the fifties, to get a girl you had to be Jewish. In the sixties, to get a girl you had to be black. In the seventies, to get a girl you've got to be a girl. [5]
  • The bravest thing that men do is love women.[2]
  • People tell me there are a lot of guys like me, which doesn't explain why I'm lonely.[2][4]
  • We would have broken up except for the children. Who were the children? Well, she and I were.[4]

Miscellaneous

  • About Comedy, "It has changed. It isn't funny anymore!"
  • To Otto Preminger about his film Exodus, "Otto - let my people go" (reputed - referring to its 220 minute length)
  • Asked his motto: "If you can't join them, beat them."
  • You haven't lived until you've died in California.[2]
  • I found people looked better when they laughed.[2]

Sources

  • Lewontin, Richard (2000). The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment. Cambridge (MA). Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00159-1
  1. Mort Sahl IMDB Biography
  2. a b c d e f g ThinkExist.com - Mort Sahl's quotes
  3. a b Quotations Collected by Donald Gudehus: Mort Sahl
  4. a b c Creative Quotations from Mort Sahl
  5. the last word - The Sexes

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message