Mort Sahl Remembered by Richard Lewis, Laraine Newman and More: ‘Most Influential Standup Comic in History’

·5-min read

Tributes poured in on Tuesday for Mort Sahl, the comedian who rose to fame in the 1950s for his politically edged humor and who served as an inspiration for generations of comics. Sahl, who died Tuesday at age 94, was remembered for his humor, his influence as well as his decency.

“He just invented modern American political satire, is all,” frequent “The Simpsons”voice Harry Shearer wrote. “And while he was best known for stinging wit, he was always an expert joke writer.”

American comedian Richard Lewis offered a personal recollection of the “iconic Mort Sahl” on Twitter, writing, “I’ll miss that red sweater. I loved you pal.”

Laraine Newman, an original cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” shared her own recollection: “One of the many times I’ve bombed onstage was when Mort Sahl was there. Afterwards he said to me ‘they (the audience) just didn’t want to listen.’ Whether he meant it or was just trying to soften the blow I never forgot that and was always so grateful.”

Robert Weide, director and executive producer of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” tweeted that Sahl was “not only the most influential standup comedian in the history of the medium” but “pound for pound, the funniest, most innovative comedian of them all.” Weide wrote and directed a documentary about Sahl titled “Mort Sahl: The Loyal Opposition.”

Journey Gunderson, executive director of the National Comedy Center, wrote in a statement sent to TheWrap, “Mort Sahl revolutionized stand-up comedy as true social commentary and political satire, setting the stage for Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Dick Gregory, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and so many more, and influencing generations of comedians who continue push boundaries and speak truth to power. The National Comedy Center joins the comedy community in marking his passing and celebrating his indelible legacy.”

Canadian comic David Steinberg wrote, “Mort was a hero to all of us ho used current events as raw material. He never backdown from controversy. He was a mentor and a friend I will miss him terribly.”

See more tributes below.

Comedian John Fugelsang quoted Sahl in several tweets.

“So sad to learn of #MorteSahl’s passing,” Canadian-American comedian Maurice Lamarche wrote in a tweet. “He was extremely kind and encouraging to me as a young comic when I first moved to Los Angeles. RIP, Mort, and thank you.”

Stand-up comedian Johnny Taylor Jr. paid tribute in a tweet, writing “Rest in peace to the legendary political comedian Mort Sahl. A commanding presence to the very end.”

Humorist Dan Wilbur tweeted his tribute along with annotated screenshots of an obituary.

MSNBC analyst Fernand Amandi tweeted “#RIP Mort Sahl you warrior for truth.”

Comedy writer Alan Zweibel tweeted, “Everyone in the comedy world, whether they realize it or not, owes a debt of gratitude to Mort Sahl.”

Writer Jason Diamond tied Sahl’s death to the recent events surrounding Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer.”

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