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Political Comedian Mort Sahl: Still Laughing

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Political Comedian Mort Sahl: Still Laughing

Political Comedian Mort Sahl: Still Laughing

Political Comedian Mort Sahl: Still Laughing

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/93736024/93736275" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Mort Sahl has skewered presidents from Eisenhower through George W. Bush. Of Bush, Sahl says: "He's the face on the can. But who canned that soup?" Frazer Harrison/Getty Images hide caption

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Mort Sahl has skewered presidents from Eisenhower through George W. Bush. The political comedian broke ground back in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a stand-up who looked to the day's headlines for his routines rather than relying on one-liners.

As the critic Francis Davis wrote in Jazz and Its Discontents: "Sahl was the most innovative comedian to gain access to a mass audience in the comedy-happy fifties ... Lenny Bruce was still doing shtick when Sahl began walking on stage with a newspaper, extemporaneously riffing on the headlines."

Sahl's humor is topical and conversational. He wrote jokes for JFK and appeared on What's My Line? and The Ed Sullivan Show. In addition, he was the first comic to make a live recording, the first to do college concerts and, in 1960, the first to grace the cover of Time magazine.

This interview was originally broadcast Dec. 23, 2003.