Mort Sahl, legendary American comedian and political satire writer, who skewered US presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Donald Trump, is dead.
He died Tuesday in Mill Valley, California at the age of 94, a friend told AP News.
Sahl’s biting political commentary has earned him legions of fans since the 1950s and has been credited as the inspiration for modern cabaret.
His Cold War material is credited with setting the bar for political comedy.
Born in Montreal, Sahl moved with his family to Los Angeles as a child and started as a comedian at the Beatnik Hungry clubs in San Francisco.
He quickly went on to perform in comedy clubs in the United States. It hosted the first Grammy Awards in 1959 and co-hosted the Academy Awards that same year.
He appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1960, starred in several films, and was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show on NBC.
Known for his signature sweater and loafers – in an era when performers often wore tuxedos – Sahl would take the stage carrying a newspaper with notes for his deed written on it.
He preferred storytelling rather than lounge-style punchlines.
A comic blunderbuss, Sahl prided himself on teasing all sides, often asking at the shows, “Is there anyone here I haven’t offended?”
“A conservative is someone who believes in reforms,” he once said. “But not now.”
He also joked: “Liberals are people who do the right things for the wrong reasons so they can feel good for 10 minutes.”
Sahl ridiculed President John F Kennedy before continuing to write jokes for his campaign. After Kennedy was elected, he again turned to mock him.
After the Democrat’s assassination, Sahl’s career took a dip as he devoted much of his shows to ridicule the official account of Kennedy’s death.
But after the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s, which led to Richard Nixon’s resignation, his career resumed. Sahl’s opposition to the Vietnam War also brought him some new followers in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He continued to perform on his feet until he was 80, even after suffering a stroke. At the age of 80 he began teaching a critical thinking class at Claremont McKenna College in California.
All four of her marriages ended in divorce, and her only child died in 1996. She has no immediate surviving relatives.
- United States
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