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Mort Sahl Quotes, Kenslea, The Hungry i, Twitter

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Mort Sahl Bio

Morton Lyon Sahl is a Canadian-born American stand-up comedian, actor and social satirist. Mort Sahl is considered to be the first modern stand-up comedian since Will Rogers.

Mort Sahl pioneered a style of social satire which pokes fun at political and current event topics using improvised monologues and only a newspaper as a prop.

Sahl spent his early years in Los Angeles and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he made his professional stage debut at the hungry I nightclub in 1953. His popularity grew quickly, and after a year at the club, he traveled the country doing shows at established nightclubs, theaters, and college campuses.

In 1960 he became the first comedian to have a cover story written about him by Time magazine. He appeared on various television shows, played a number of film roles, and performed a one-man show on Broadway.

Television host Steve Allen claimed that Sahl was “the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy.” His social satire performances broke new ground in live entertainment, as a stand-up comic talking about the real world of politics at that time was considered “revolutionary.”

It inspired many later comics to become stage comedians, including Lenny Bruce, Jonathan Winters, George Carlin, and Woody Allen. Allen credits Sahl’s new style of humor with “opening up vistas for people like me.”

Numerous politicians became his fans, with John F. Kennedy asking him to write his jokes for campaign speeches. After Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, however, Sahl became obsessed with the Warren Report’s inaccuracies and conclusions and spoke about it often during his shows.

This alienated much of his audience and led to a decline in his popularity for the remainder of the 1960s. By the 1970s, however, his shows and popularity staged a partial comeback which continues to the present.

Mort Sahl Age

Mort Sahl

Sahl was born on May 11, 1927, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the only child of Jewish parents. His father, Harry Sahl, came from an immigrant family on New York’s Lower East Side and hoped to become a Broadway playwright. As of 2019, Mort Sahl is 92 years old.

His family later relocated to Los Angeles, California where his father, unable to become a Hollywood writer, worked as a clerk and court reporter for the FBI. Sahl notes, “My dad was disappointed in his dreams and he distrusted that world for me.” Sahl went to Belmont High School in Los Angeles where he wrote for the school’s newspaper. Actor Richard Crenna was a classmate.

When the U.S. entered World War II after Pearl Harbor, Sahl, then fourteen, joined the school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He won a medal for marksmanship and an American Legion Americanism award.

Wanting to express his patriotism, Sahl wore his ROTC uniform to school and in public and, when he turned fifteen, he dropped out of high school to join the Army by lying about his age. His mother tracked him down and brought him back home two weeks later after she revealed his true age.

Upon graduating from high school, his father tried to get him into West Point and had received his Congressman’s help. But Sahl had by then already enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was later stationed in Alaska with the 93rd Air Depot Group. In the military, however, he resisted the discipline and authoritarian control it had over his life.

He expressed his nonconformity by growing a beard and refusing to wear a cap as required. He also wrote articles for a small newspaper criticizing the military, which resulted in his being penalized with three months of KP duty.

He was discharged in 1947 and enrolled in Compton College, followed by the University of Southern California. He received a B.S. degree in 1950 with majors in traffic engineering and city management. He continued with the master’s program but dropped out to become an actor and playwright.

Mort Sahl Spouse

Sahl has been married three times. He married Susan J. Babior in 1955; they divorced in 1958. In 1967 he married actress and model China Lee and they divorced in 1991. They had one son, Mort Sahl Jr., who died in 1996, aged 19, from an unknown drug-related reaction.

In 1997 he married Kenslea Ann Motter; they divorced around 2009. He regrets their separation, saying “I’m sorry I divorced Kenslea; I’m still in love with my wife. If you love a woman it’ll make her a better woman.”

In 1976, Sahl wrote an autobiography called Heartland. In June 2007 a number of star comedians including George Carlin and Jonathan Winters gave Sahl an 80th birthday tribute. Sahl does not drink, smoke, use drugs or use swear words, on or off stage.

In 2008, Sahl moved from Los Angeles to Mill Valley, California a suburb of San Francisco, where he became friends with comedian Robin Williams who lived nearby. Sahl works every Thursday night with his take-no-prisoners approach, taking questions from the live audience and from Periscope/Twitter.

Mort Sahl and Kenslea

Mort Sahl met Kenslea 2 weeks after his son Mort Jr. passed away. She was working as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and he was flying home to Los Angeles from Connecticut. The two had a brief conversation and Sahl was immediately smitten with her.

He instructed his manager to send a note to her at Delta Airlines, and she responded several weeks later. Kenslea had been a Political Science major at one of the south’s most prestigious women’s colleges, so she and Mort had plenty in common.

She was raising her daughter alone at the time and was intensely independent. Sahl was finally able to persuade her to marry him in April of 1999. She’s been his inspiration and a pillar of strength.

Mort and Kenslea Sahl never legally separated but established separate residences in mid-2007. Neither will talk about the reason for their split and they remain close friends.

Mort Sahl is working as a visiting professor at Claremont McKenna College. He is not seeing anyone at the moment and mostly keeps company with the Chairman of the English Department. Kenslea Sahl has been spotted at various Los Angeles eateries and clubs with her daughter Maryflynn and friends. She is rumored to be hooking up with New York City entrepreneur Craig Spitzer.

Mort Sahl The Hungry i

The hungry i was a nightclub in San Francisco, originally located in the North Beach neighborhood. It played a major role in the history of stand-up comedy in the US. It was launched by Eric “Big Daddy” Nord, who sold it to Enrico Banducci in 1951. The club moved to Ghirardelli Square in 1967 and operated mostly as a rock music venue until it closed in 1970.

After operating it as a venue for folk singers including Stan Wilson, Banducci began hiring comedians in 1953 with Mort Sahl, encouraging them to express themselves freely. Their success caused queues around the block until Banducci moved the hungry i to the nearby International Hotel (nicknamed “the I-Hotel”) on Jackson Street in 1954.

The hungry i and Banducci were instrumental in the careers of actor/comic Ronnie Schell, comic Bill Cosby, comic Lenny Bruce, and minister Malcolm Boyd. Musically, The Kingston Trio recorded two noted albums at the hungry i, including the first live performance of their version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

Tom Lehrer’s final satirical album That Was the Year That Was (1965) was also recorded there, as well as The Limeliters’ album Our Men in San Francisco (1963).

Jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, folk singer Glenn Yarborough, the Gateway Singers, and comedians Godfrey Cambridge, Professor Irwin Corey, Joan Rivers, and Mort Sahl were also given career boosts from their appearances at the hungry i, as well as Dick Cavett and Woody Allen. The folk-rock group We Five were signed to A&M records after Herb Alpert saw them perform there.

Mort Sahl Heartland

Mort Sahl is the pioneer and still the champion of stand-up contemporary satire. As Woody Allen attests, he is the forerunner of today’s comedians. Heartland evokes reflection and laughter. In Mort Sahl’s humor and in his anger, America becomes his loving and righteous obsession.

He makes us aware that politics is a sometimes serious, sometimes silly, and always dangerous game. Sahl was the first entertainer to argue the illegality of actions by the CIA and FBI, the first to question the official accounts of the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. paid dearly for his belief, yet he never lost his audience or his respect for it.

Sahl’s humor is part of America’s growing up. Laughter convinces that Mort Sahl is one of the most talented writers of comedy alive. And he’s alive! This is the funny and touching story of his leaving and looking for a home.

Mort Sahl Quotes

“Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.”
“My life needs editing. ”

“That feeling of hopelessness only serves your masters.”

“This matter of two sides to every question is bad logic and bad practice: sometimes there are no sides; sometimes there are a hundred.”

“If someone were to ask me for a short cut to sensuality, I would suggest he go shopping for a used 427 Shelby-Cobra. But it is only fair to warn you that of the 300 guys who switched to them in 1966, only two went back to women.”

“You haven’t lived until you’ve died in California”

“A conservative is someone who believes in reform. But not now.”

“We claim we believe in compassion, which is abstract, and when it’s personified we discredit the man”

“We all know that America is the worst country in the world, except for all the others.”

“People tell me there are a lot of guys like me, which doesn’t explain why I’m lonely.”

“I don’t think fascism is dying for.”

“I don’t believe in good people and bad people. I believe in the better parts of people.”

“The beat generation is a coffeehouse full of people expectantly looking at their watches waiting for the beat generation to come on. *1958”

“The bravest thing that men do is love women.”

“Washington couldn’t tell a lie, Nixon couldn’t tell the truth, and Reagan couldn’t tell the difference.”

“Reagan won because he ran against Jimmy Carter. If he ran unopposed he would have lost.”

“The distance between taking social action and having knowledge is as wide as the mouth of the Mississippi.”

“You know what I want you to do? I want you to blow out the candle and curse the darkness.”

“I don’t think crucifixion is the answer. I believe in the resurrection. I like that part of the story.”

“Mort Sahl, while attending a preview of Otto Preminger’s film Exodus, stood up and called out, “Otto, let my people go!”

“I found people looked better when they laughed”

“I took a course at Cal once called Statistical Analysis. And there was a guy in the course who used to make up all of his computations and he never used Sigma. He used his own initials. ‘Cause he was the standard deviation.”

“One reason to keep going is that the country was given to us as a sacred charge. It is, as Stephen Vincent Benet says in ‘the Devil and Daniel Webster,’ not the only place that created free man- but… Read More its a place that demands that we decide what to do without freedom.

You can only punish yourself, That’s the existential view. I don’t think there’s any reward beyond participating, beyond being here. And the antithesis of reward is punishment, and the only punishment that can come is self-inflicted. I remain optimistic. Whether or not the optimism is justified, I don’t know. I want to stay around for the third act.”

“Comedians have to challenge power. Comedians should be dangerous and devastating – and funny. That’s the hardest part.”

Mort Sahl Net Worth

Mort Sahl is a comedian and actor who is considered the first modern stand-up comedian because of his style of talking about current events in a matter of fact way. He was ranked #40 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time. Sahl, therefore, has a Net Worth of $ 20Million.

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