The best thing about presidential elections is the humor that they invoke. At this time, we at the ARChive feel a need to remind folks of one of the pioneers of political humor: Mort Sahl.
Mort Sahl was one of the first, if not the first, to incorporate political satire into his stand-up act. People like Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory and George Carlin all followed the path that he cut. There were other political comedians before Sahl, of course—Will Rogers being the most obvious, but he worked with the printed word, movies and on radio, not stand-up comedy in clubs. Here is a taste of Mort Sahl’s humor as presented on a TV show in 1967, as he explains the difference between liberals and conservatives.
In the ARChive window at the moment is the cover of Sahl’s The Next President LP. No, he was not running for president, but instead he pokes fun at the two candidates who were running in 1960: Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. On the album, he is a bipartisan fun poker. His humor isn’t harsh and actually seems rather tame according to today’s political humorists, so it seems like a breath of fresh air.
Which leads to the question, “Where is Mort Sahl now that we really need him?” Well, he is alive and well and appears every Thursday night at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California. The appearances are streamed over the interwebs and are archived on Periscope. In this era of taco trucks and emails, it is good to note that Mort Sahl is still very bipartisan.