Mort Sahl was one of America’s best-known satirists during the ’50s and ’60s. His politics offended enough people on both sides that he never really got the breaks other comedians who followed after him would get. He’s quoted as saying “If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you will eventually be accused of treason.” However, I hadn’t thought of Sahl for some time until Mr. C sent me this link to an interview with Sahl at TruthDig. It’s full o’ good quotes:
Mr. Fish: Are you at all frustrated by [Barack] Obama’s recent public displays of toughness, his willingness to bomb Pakistan and Iran, etc.?
Sahl: Obama is a black guy made in the lab by white guys. Again, it’s about [Democratic] virtue, “We’re going to nominate a black man.” Look who they pick—they didn’t exactly pick Paul Robeson or Malcolm X. Or it’s like with Hillary Clinton. She says, “Believe me, I won’t let the war go on!” What reason is there to believe her? She’s running on the entitlement ticket. It isn’t enough that we had [Bill Clinton], now we have to have her? Has everybody forgotten that he went into Kosovo and that he bombed civilians in Yugoslavia? I mean, his presidency wasn’t exactly a high time in America—maybe for the stock market. But getting back to Obama, Bill Bradley just the other day referred to him as a rock star. What kind of an appraisal is that? It’s not even a good parallel—how often do rocks stars have anything to do with music, not the music industry, but music? It’s vaudeville.
And on the current state of satire/standup:
Sahl: I think the artist is only that good. I don’t think it’s a broker’s decision to even try to meet the audience’s needs. A comedian nowadays is there to accommodate the audience’s materialism. They don’t have anything on their minds. [A comedian] will get up there and talk for an hour about women like they’re aliens, and that’s his act. I was in New York and I saw Judy Gold and she was complaining that CNN runs that line of headlines at the bottom of the screen—is that really what’s wrong? I just don’t think there’s any cultural depth perception anymore. Even the guys at “The Daily Show” aren’t making fun of the worst of [political wrongdoing]. Maybe they should just do more of what the real news doesn’t do. Those guys at CBS really ended [the Vietnam War]—Rather, Morley Safer and John Hart—by showing us what was going on. Everyday we hear that a bunch of American soldiers got killed, but we don’t see anything. You will on Al-Jazeera.
It’s good stuff, read it.