Mort Sahl – Last Man Standing

Mort Sahl’s New Book Just Released!

Available Now on

On December 22, 1953, Mort Sahl took the stage at San Francisco’s hungry i and changed comedy forever. Before him, standup was about everything but hard news and politics. In his wake, a new generation of smart comics emerged―Shelley Berman, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Lenny Bruce, Bob Newhart, Dick Gregory, Woody Allen, and the Smothers Brothers, among others. He opened up jazz-inflected satire to a loose network of clubs, cut the first modern comedy album, and appeared on the cover of Time surrounded by caricatures of some of his frequent targets such as Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Adlai Stevenson, and John F. Kennedy. Through the extraordinary details of Sahl’s life, author James Curtis deftly illustrates why Sahl was dubbed by Steve Allen as “the only real political philosopher we have in modern comedy.”

Sahl came on the scene the same year Eisenhower and Nixon entered the White House, the year Playboy first hit the nation’s newsstands. Clad in an open collar and pullover sweater, he adopted the persona of a graduate student ruminating on current events. “It was like nothing I’d ever seen,” said Woody Allen, “and I’ve never seen anything like it after.” Sahl was billed, variously, as the Nation’s Conscience, America’s Only Working Philosopher, and, most tellingly, the Next President of the United States. Yet he was also a satirist so savage the editors of Time once dubbed him “Will Rogers with fangs.”

Here, for the first time, is the whole story of Mort Sahl, America’s iconoclastic father of modern standup comedy. Written with Sahl’s full cooperation and the participation of many of his friends and contemporaries, it delves deeply into the influences that shaped him, the heady times in which he soared, and the depths to which he fell during the turbulent sixties when he took on the Warren Commission and nearly paid for it with his career

Watch Mort Live Every Thursday Night at 7pm Pacific on Periscope

If you are on Twitter you can get the Periscope app for free and watch Mort every Thursday night.  His show is only broadcast from the Throckmorton Theater in Northern California.  He is amazingly sharp and recalls many funny incidents from his long career in show business that included writing for films, comedy gigs, writing for JFK, and working with Jim Garrison on the Kennedy Assassination, which got him black-balled from Hollywood.

Genevieve Castree at Skylight Book Shop 2013

Canadian Artist, Cartoonist, Writer and Musician Presented Her Book “Susceptible”

SuseptibleGenevieve Castree 1981-2016

Her tragic early death at age 35 in 2016 was shocking to her fans.  She waged a heroic battle against pancreatic cancer.  It seems so unfair that such a talented young woman would be taken away.  The Comics Journal ran a nice article about her life and work, click here to read it.  The video from Skylight shows a shy, young lady, who had a fascinating story of  her growing up in Canada, which she managed to illustrate in a charming cartoon book format.  Click on the box below to watch this wonderful talk by Genevieve.


Comic Titans of Television

Richard Kramer and Peter Mehlman Talk About Writing Comedy for Television

A lively audience packed into Book Soup in Hollywood recently to meet and listen to two of Hollywood’s big names in television comedy. Richard Kramer and Peter Mehlman not only read from their new books, but took turns in a wide-ranging discussion of television, comedy, and writing, engaging the audience in a marathon session that could serve as a self-contained college course on the subjects covered. If you missed the event, no problem, just click on the window below to view the unedited presentation, over 2 hours long. Also, follow the links below to get signed copies of their books and visit their websites.

Click Here to watch directly on youtube.

TheseThingsHappen-cvr-thumbClick Here to buy their books from Book Soup .Please support this great Independent Book Store. The internet discounters do not ever give the authors the love and kindness that they get from Book Soup. These educational and fun events allow you to personally meet up with the great authors of today and interact with them. Plus, get a signed copy as a gift for a friend!


Click Here to go to Richard Kramer’s website.

MANDELA-WAS-LATE-front-coverClick Here to go to Peter Mehlman’s website.

Templar The Graphic Novel

Jordan Mechner at Skylight Books for Reading and Discussion

Jordan_MechnerA hot topic for the last decade or so has been the times and events surrounding the legendary group of knights from the days of the Crusades, called the Knights Templar.  This religious and military order first started as guardians to those going to the Holy Land during the Crusades.  Over the years it evolved into a much larger and more powerful organization.  The Templars spread over Europe, and became the first “bankers”, transferring money, safeguarding gold and silver, and loaning money, something that only Jews and Lombards could do at the time.  Since the Templars were authorized by the Church and the Pope, they operated in many lands and crossed the borders of all European states.  Its members were from the noble families of Europe, men who took a vow of poverty to serve Christ and Christians as Knights of the Temple.

Templar book coverMany fascinating books have come from exploring this era, including “Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, and many others from authors including best-selling author Dan Brown.  Spinning a story based on the real Templars, Jordan Mechner has brought the era to the graphic novel with his two artist co-authors LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland in a 480 page color book.  Here’s the story synopsis:

Martin is one of a handful of Templar Knights to escape when the King of France and the Pope conspire to destroy the noble order. The King aims to frame the Templars for heresy, execute all of them, and make off with their legendary treasure. That’s the plan, anyway, but Martin and several other surviving knights mount a counter-campaign to regain the lost treasure of the Knights Templar.

To watch the video of the Discussion on youtube directly click here.

Or click on the window below to see the video:

For a signed copy of Templar, go to, or better yet, stop by the store in person.

Gilbert Hernandez – “How I Got Started In Comics”

Gilbert Hernandez Discusses the Comics and Artists Who Influenced Him

Love and Rockets Brothers At Skylight Book Shop in Hollywood!


DSC_1035 Gil and Marble bookBeloved cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez (LOVE & ROCKETS) launched his new D+Q graphic novel MARBLE SEASON, at Skylight Bookshop in Hollywood to a packed room of his fans and comic readers. Hernandez presented a fascinating slide show “From Funnybooks to Graphic Novels” featuring the comics of his childhood.  In addition, there was a question and answer session with fans and a book signing. (Some signed copies may still be available at Skylight).  The silver age comics he read as a child not only influenced MARBLE SEASON, but also set the course for Gilbert, as well as his brothers Jaime and Mario, to become the legendary comics creators they are today.

Marble Season is his first graphic novel for Drawn & Quarterly

MARBLE SEASON is the first ever semi-autobiographical novel by acclaimed cartoonist 200px-LoveAndRockets31Gilbert Hernandez of Love & Rockets, and is also his first graphic novel for Drawn & Quarterly. Meet Huey. He’s the middle child of a big family, growing up in a California suburb in the 1960s. He stages Captain America plays in the backyard and treasures his older brother’s comic-book collection almost as much as his approval. Set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics, MARBLE SEASON is a subtle and deft rumination on the redemptive and timeless power of storytelling and world-building in childhood.

“Perhaps no other current creators of comics recognize (or vividly remember) the ways actual kids think, talk, or even stand and walk as accurately as the Hernandez brothers, and no other comics artists so delicately intertwine moments of childhood trauma with the goofy logic that otherwise sustains kids when they begin to sense that they live in an irrational world.”—from the afterword by Corey Creekmur

“Gilbert Hernandez is one of the great craftsmen of modern comics.”—New York Times

Praise for Palomar: “These deeply influential tales, a sort of Archie-comics-meets-Marquez melange of complicated pan-American inter-relationships, are a comix epic.”—Time

Praise for Gilbert Hernandez: “He…[should]…be considered one of the greatest American storytellers. It’s so hard to do funny, tragic, local and epic, and he does all simultaneously, and with great aplomb.”—Junot Diaz, Los Angeles TIMES

Click here to see video on youtube.

Click here to go to Skylight Books to get a signed copy.

Or watch the embedded video below:


Mandela Was Late – Laugh Therapy

Book Review by Five

MANDELA-WAS-LATE-front-coverEver wonder what it would be like to take an exploratory peek into the mind of a former Seinfeld writer, if nothing more, than just for the hell of it? Ever imagine what it would be like to casually traverse the experiential terrain and clustered thought forms inside such a mind? Geez, ever just wish you could curl up with a quick read and LOL repeatedly (which some studies have shown can possibly combat cancer as well as various emotional maladies, i.e. Laugh Therapy)?

Well, scream out Hallelujah because you’re in luck! Feel free to count this as a blessing or, at the very least, a gift from the gods of publishing. Mandela Was Late is former Seinfeld scribe Peter Mehlman’s new book of odd things, wit-filled essays, and multi-colored doodle art… And it’s guaranteed to make you pee your pants should you have a full bladder and be miles away from a restroom and have to go! All joking aside, there are a great number of downright hilarious moments and obliquely satirical insights which jump out at the reader like Big League, spring-loaded, funny business.

Who else do you know marks time by the amount of moving violation tickets received? Believe or not, being pulled over six times is how the former New Yorker encapsulates his twenty two years and roughly 350,000 miles of L.A. living… And each time is a hoot! In another segment, he shares his innermost feelings about being nominated for an Emmy and the ensuing eight weeks leading up to losing to Ellen DeGeneres in front of a worldwide TV audience of 600 million people (… I envision friends at my memorial service saying: “He was never the same after losing that Emmy.”)

Also extremely hilarious is the escapist story called BLANK—about a guy named Eugene Brusca, a man who literally has no opinions on anything, who eventually lands a job as an op-ed columnist for the Los Angeles Times, in which his fourteen column inches of blank space published several times a week leads to a soaring readership and a Pulitzer Prize.

In case you were wondering, the book’s title, Mandela Was Late is a piece that was MANDELA-WAS-LATE-front-cover originally published in Esquire magazine in August,Peter Mehlman 2003. It also serves as the book’s final chapter—An irreverently funny invention which is written from the point of view of Nelson Mandela’s parole officer, a screwball, hare-brained character who is pissed off that the formerly jailed civil rights leader is three minutes late for his final parole meeting. Like I said lots and lots of Big League funny business… So there! Take that, cancer!

Click here to buy “Mandela Was Late” from Book Soup

Click here to see Peter Mehlman video

Where The Funnymen Performed in Old Hollywood



TUESDAY, APRIL 23rd @ 7:30 pm @ the Larry Edmunds Bookshop-STOOGES!

A few years back I attended an evening at Hollywood Heritage w/ a Stoogephile from Philly named Jim Pauley doing a presentation on the film locations of the 3 Stooges. It was fantastic, and I began to bug Jim about why all his research and photos were not a book. Now they are! Behold, “The Three Stooges-Hollywood Film Locations”, a beautiful coffee book to take you to from the Columbia Ranch to the “Stooges steps” and all points in between. If that is not enough to entice you, we’ll have special guest Beverly Warren, who appears in the short, “Three Loan Wolves” which we’ll show and she’ll talk about working w/ the boys and she’ll be signing photos too! Slowly you should turn, step by step, and make your way to Larry Edmunds Bookshop next Tuesday for a night of Stooges.

Jeff, Larry Edmunds Bookshop

Watch “Three Loan Wolves” on youtube, click here.



Peter Mehlman Reads From “Mandela Was Late”

Book Soup Hosts Author Peter Mehlman

Mandela Was Late

MANDELA-WAS-LATE-front-coverFrankly, as a parole officer, you root for your thugs to come late or, better yet, not show at all. They get kicked back in the can where they belong, and you have time for a sandwich. But somehow, I felt different about Nelson Mandela. Maybe I was losing my edge, but he seemed somehow more respectable than most of the ex-cons who pollute my schedule.

This is the opening paragraph from his famous article in Esquire Magazine and the title of his new book of memories of “odd things” in his “odd life”.  (click here to read the entire article at Esquire’s web site.)

I’d rather be a travel agent on the Gaza Strip.”

Mehlman has knocked around the sitcom business for a long time.  For all you wannabes check out his sort of sitcom bio he wrote for Entertainment Weekly.  It’s called “Notes From The Sitcom’s Deathbed.”  It’s a screamer, so funny, yet so full of lessons learned in dealing with the Networks.  It’s good that every once in a while someone like Mehlman comes along to remind us of the kind of savage, kinky, aberrant currs that inhabit the upper echelons of the biz.  This article should be required reading, along with Merle Miller’s “Only You Dick Daring” to anyone who is venturing into the dark abyss called “Hollywood”. Click here to go to EW to read Notes From The Sitcom’s Deathbed.

Odd Thing.  After a hilarious reading from his book, Mehlman asked for questions.  There were none.  A packed house, silence.  Sometimes it’s like that, until one person asks a question and unleashes the tidal wave. I thought, “This guy has a million stories, how can there be no questions?”  But I’m just the video guy, hiding behind the camera and keeping a low profile. Maybe the conspiracy theorists are right, the flouride in our water is actually dumbing us down.  Maybe they dumped a double load in that day down at the water company.  Without stomach-pumping he entire Book Soup audience, we’ll never know.   Or come to think of it, maybe I was in a weird time warp of some kind, re-filming a scene from Mehlman’s film “Blank,” in which another audience had no questions, but applauded wildly for Mehlman’s crack-pot character Eugene Brusca, a man who never had an opinion on anything. Deja vu?  Naw, just another Odd Thing.

Click here to watch Peter Mehlman’s reading at Book Soup, or click the embedded version below.

Click here to go to Peter Mehlman’s web site

Click here to go to The Sager Group web site, Mehlman’s Publishers.

Click here to go to the Book Soup web site to get a copy of the book.

And finally, check out  It’s for sale.

T-Rex Barges Into Skylight Books in Hollywood

T-Rex is Big, He’s Cute, and He’s Trying to Cope With Modern Society

Hugh Murphy and his brother started drawing T-Rex cartoons while doodling on the placemat at a restaurant.  Little did Hugh know what a success Rex would become! When Hugh’s wife started putting the cartoons up on the Tumblr web site, they developed a large following.  This led to the first book of these cartoons, called “T-Rex Trying”, which debuted at Skylight Books Friday February 8, 2013.  If you missed the party, sit back and watch the complete video.  At the end of the presentation is a further slide show of the cartoons, so you are in for plenty of laughs.

Copies of “T-Rex Trying” are available at Skylight Books

Click here to watch the event on youtube:  T-Rex at Skylight

Click on the window below for the embedded version

Contact Skylight for a signed copy of the book “T-Rex Trying”.

Gabrielle Bell at Skylight Books

Alternative Cartoonist and Graphic Novelist Gabrielle Bell reads from 4 of her recent stories at Skylight Books.

Gabrielle Bell was born in Britain but raised in California.  Now living in Brooklyn, NY, she came to Hollywood to promote her new book “The Voyeurs.”  The pretty, lanky, and somewhat shy Ms. Bell presented a slide show of four wonderful, funny stories that have either appeared in her new book or in recent comic collections. When asked about who inspired her, she answered that Joe Frank was a big influence on her.  Most of us who lived in California the last few decades feel the same way: the brilliant Joe Frank touched all of us in his absolutely genius way.  Gabrielle’s charming, thoughtful stories will also touch you. And make you laugh!  Check at Skylight Books, they may still have a few copies of her new book signed, give them a call.  If you missed the event, no problem, Big Fun Video was there to film it for us, just click on the window below!  Thanks Gabrielle for a great fun evening!

Watch full screen on youtube: or click on window below.