In Praise of Mort Sahl

Freshly minted into his 89th year, the master of stand-up continues to perform regularly in Mill Valley.

MortSahl1960TimeCoverAt the beginning of this month, Mort Sahl turned 88. And at the end of this month, the famed stand-up gave another intimate weekly performance at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, California, where he lives.

These occasions were marked in the media, respectively, by Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Kogan and National Post reporter Tristin Hopper, who traveled from Toronto to northern California to check out a fellow Canadian. Let’s start with Kogan’s rat-a-tat lede:

The greatest living comic in the world is Mort Sahl.

O.K., argue if you like.

Don Rickles is 88 and still doing his distinctive thing.

Bob Newhart is 85 and occasionally performs.

Bill Cosby is 77… Bill Cosby… Anybody?

Hopper, for his part, checked out Sahl at the Throckmorton prior to the comedian’s aforementioned 88th:

A mild stroke has slowed the comedian down and left him with a right eye that occasionally closes on its own. Yet, for the first few minutes, the veteran political humorist insists on standing.

His body may be weakened, but as the audience soon learns, Sahl’s mind remains as sharp as it was in the 1950s.”Netanyahu was here, and he spoke to the Congress, and at the end of it he said ‘I’d like to thank Sheldon Adelson for the use of the hall,’” he said.

The quip about the Israeli prime minister and one of the Republicans’ most prolific donors is the first big laugh of the night.

Bravo Mr. Sahl! Maybe Jerry should jump in one of those fancy cars and head up the California coast for a Mill Valley coffee shop rendezvous. And if you want to be sure to catch Sahl’s next Periscope session, follow him at @mortsahlsays.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Mort Sahl on Possibly Leading Woody Allen Back to Stand-Up
Mort Sahl’s Second Wife Was Never a Fan of Bette Midler
[Pictured: The celebrated August 15, 1960 Time magazine cover by Robert Vickrey.]