April 1, 2012

Mort Sahl - Iconoclast of 1950's politics.

Political humor of the 1950's - you don't really hear much about it these days. The forum for political humor has changed a lot over the decades. But in 1959 Political humor and social satire, like most social movements of the day, were considered outside the mainstream and relegated to the domain of nightclubs, college campuses and the occasional appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

But that's not to say the message was buried, and comedians like Mort Sahl rose to prominence during a time when questioning where our society was heading was just getting started. It was also a time when FM was slowly coming into its own and that proved to be a great launching pad for a lot of consciousness raising, politically as well as culturally.

I ran across this broadcast, originally aired over a local Los Angeles FM station (KRHM which became known as KMET and later The Wave) who happened to have a recording of a Mort Sahl appearance at L.A. State College in September of 1959. As far as I know, it's never been available commercially and it's classic Mort Sahl.

You may need to Google many of the names he mentions, like Claire Booth Luce, but you'll get a taste of what the political climate was like from a non-mainstream perspective. And that could be instructive or ironic, since a lot of the issues Sahl talks about are issues we're still dealing with some 50+ years later.

And further evidence some things just don't change, and may never change.

Here is a performance by Mort Sahl, as recorded at L.A. State College and broadcast by Les Claypool over KRHM-FM in Los Angeles on September 30, 1959.

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