Morton Lyon "Mort" Sahl (born May 11, 1927) is a Canadian-born American comedian and actor. He occasionally wrote jokes for speeches delivered by President John F. Kennedy. He was the first comedian to record a live album and the first to perform on college campuses. He was on the cover of Time magazine in 1960 where they called him "the patriarch of a new school of comedians". He was born on May 11, 1927 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Harry Sahl. His father was a court reporter who met his wife when she responded to an advertisement he took out in a poetry magazine. The family moved to Los Angeles, California and Mort joined the ROTC unit at Belmont High School. He was also on the staff of the school's newspaper, the Belmont Sentinel. Actor Richard Crenna was one of his classmates. 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 ("Washington couldn't tell a lie, Nixon couldn't tell the truth, and Reagan can't tell the difference!"). 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." 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 is to appear on stage with a newspaper in hand, casually dressed in a V-neck sweater. 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 The Ed Sullivan Show, which meant Sahl was seldom seen on TV during the next few years.
Morton Lyon Sahl