Sahl, Mort

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SAHL, MORT (Lyon, Morton Sahl ; 1927– ), U.S. comedian and satirist. Born in Montreal, Canada, Sahl worked in experimental theaters, but his success in a San Francisco nightclub in 1953 led to engagements in nightclubs throughout the U.S., and on radio and television. He excelled in monologue, directing his satire mostly at political figures, appealing to young, liberal, well-educated audiences. He prided himself in speaking his truth and "offending everyone." Once close to the Kennedys, he fell out of favor with the family when he made the new president the target of his wit. With Lenny *Bruce, he represented a new kind of stand-up comic, deflating icons and attacking sacred cows. In 1966 he opened his own nightclub in Los Angeles.

He appeared in the Broadway revue The Next President (1958) and in Mort Sahl on Broadway (1987) and Comedy Tonight (1994). On screen, he appeared in the films In Love and War (1958), All The Young Men (1960), Johnny Cool (1963), Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding (1967), Don't Make Waves (1967), the documentary Lenny Bruce without Tears (1972), Nothing Lasts Forever (1984), and the tv documentaries The Great Stand-ups (1984), Jonathan Winters: On the Ledge (1987), Sam Peckinpah: Man of Iron (1992), and Inside the Playboy Mansion (2002). He was the subject of the tv documentary Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition (1989). Sahl was #40 in the film Comedy Central Presents: 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time (2004). His book Heartland was published in 1976.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]