Mort Sahl – Last Man Standing

Mort Sahl’s New Book Just Released!

Available Now on amazon.com

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.

Comedy Writers Laugh-In at Tonight’s Event

Barnes & Noble Burbank – Thursday Nov 5th – 7:00pm

Classic TV Preservation Society Presents

Great Moments in Television Comedy

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Herbie J Pilato moderates tonight’s event with several of the greatest television comedy writers, including:

Sam Bobrick
Sam Bobrick

Sam Bobrick, award winning playwright who from the late 1950s to the 1990s wrote for scores of television shows.  Click here to go to his website for a list of his shows and his biography.  He says about his shows:

” Most of them were on the air before many of you were born. I think some of them were on the air before I was born.”

He’s written and co-written over thirty-five plays, many of them performed throughout the world, including: Murder At The Howard Johnson’sWeekend Comedy, Getting Sara Married, and Hamlet II (Better Than The Original). Twenty four of them have been published by Samuel French.

Born in Chicago in 1932 he joined the Air Force after his first year in college following a futile attempt at accounting. It was in the Service that he commenced a writing career as the editor and sole contributor to “The Tribe Scribe” – a bi-monthly politically incorrect base newspaper which, while very popular with the troops, was not held in the highest esteem by the military bureaucracy. After three years, nine months and twenty eight days in the Air Force he was honorably discharged and attended and graduated from the University of Illinois.

He soon made his way to New York where after several years of living on hot dogs and jelly donuts he landed his first big job as a writer for the legendary Captain Kangaroo children’s program. His TV writing career is long and varied, and includes The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, and The Smother’s Brothers Comedy Hour.

It was while doing The Kraft Music Hall in New York that he became involved with theatre, co-writing his first play NORMAN, IS THAT YOU? which has been produced throughout the world.

A prolific talent, he has also composed songs which have been recorded by Elvis Presley, Brian Ferry, and Los Lobos. He also co-wrote all the songs for the two MAD Magazine albums, MAD Twists Rock ‘N’ Roll and Fink Along With MAD – both of which have become collector’s items.

Recently – he and his son Joey wrote and released a hilarious but wickedly rude CD called Totally Twisted Country sung by the great country and western group The Cow Pies.

He is married and lovingly-devoted to playwright Julie Stein with whom he co-wrote several plays (including THE OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURES OF SHELDON & MRS. LEVINE and LENNY’S BACK (a one man show about the legendary comedian Lenny Bruce).

Besides his son he has two fantastic daughters Lori and Steffy, two wonderful son-in-laws, Caleb and Geoff, one magnificent daughter-in-law, Linda and two outstanding grand-children, Ariel and Joshua.

Ed Scharlach
Ed Scharlach

Ed Scharlach, another multi-talented writer who wrote for both television comedies and more serious stuff, like Mike Hammer.  Click here for a list of his extensive television writing credits.

He has written and produced more than 300 episodes of TV comedy, including: segments for classic shows such as “The Odd Couple,” “Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy,” and “Love American Style.” He also penned pristine episodes of acclaimed variety shows like “The Dean Martin Show” and shows for Steve Martin, Bette Midler, and Jay Leno.

He is also worked for several TV hour mystery dramas include writing/producing for “Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer” and writing for sci-fi classics such as “Quantum Leap.”

Scooby-DooHis writing/producing also include such acclaimed animated series as “Duckman,” “The Wild Thornberrys”, “Pinky and the Brain,” the pilot for the cult favorite, “Invader Zim, as well as producing the TV series revival of the famed “Scooby-Doo” franchise.

His work as been heralded in TV Guide’s “101 Best Written TV Series,” as well as in TV Guide’s “100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.” He is an Emmy, Annie, and Writer’s Guild Award nominee and the winner of a Cable ACE award.

He also happens to be one of the kindest and most beloved human beings in the entertainment industry.

Arnie Kogen
Arnie Kogen

Arnie Kogen, another major comedy writer and producer joins the group tonight.  Mr. Kogen has written for many of the major stand-up comedians, including Don Adams, Soupy Sales, Jackie Gleason and Johnny Carson.  Not only did he write for many television shows, but he wrote for years for our favorite Mad Magazine.  Click Here for a list of his credits, and Click Here for the list of Mad Magazine pieces.

He’s written and/or produced for The Carol Burnett Show, The Tonight Show, Newhart, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Empty Nest, Mad TV, The Dean Martin Show, Sinbad, Donnie & Marie, The Jackson Five, Evening At The Improv, The Bob Newhart Show, Tim Conway, Candid Camera, The Golden Globes and The Academy Awards.

Has also written comedy material for Phyllis Diller, Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, Shelley Berman, Debbie Reynolds, Connie Stevens, Totie Fields, Jackie Vernon, Diana Ross, Flip Wilson, Ann Margret, Sammy Davis, Morty Gunty, Mal Z Lawrence and Freddie Roman.

Mad MagFor over five decades he has been one of the leading contributors to Mad Magazine.

He has won three Emmy Awards (seven nominations) and one Writers Guild Award (three nominations)

He has been planning on writing a novel but doesn’t have enough material. He feels he has a “leaflet” in him.

Periscope fans:  We will broadcast live stream from time to time during the show.  Click on L.A on the map and find ottofocus44 between 7:30 and 9pm.

 

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.



What Are You Laughing At?

Dan O’Shannon hits the turf at Skylight Books in Hollywood and gives an excellent slide show that goes deeply into the mechanics of humor.  What is funny?  Why is a joke or bit funny one time and not another?  What makes the comedic event?  A television writer on many of the greatest comedy shows like Cheers, Dan knows humor and his new book is a  very detailed study of humor and comedy, not a collection of jokes.  This is serious study for anyone who wants to approach the subject of writing for movies, television, or even for stand-up acts.  Check out the event:

Skylight Books still has some signed copies of the book, click here:  Buy Book