I caught up with Mort Sahl as he was on his way to play the lounge in the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach tonight. Jay Leno, who usually works out there on Sundays, will play a benefit next Wednesday. But you can also catch Richard Lewis, Kevin Nealon, Paula Poundstone, Jonathan Winters, George Carlin, Albert Brooks, Shelley Berman, Bill Maher, David Steinberg, and Jack Reilly in a June 28 tribute to Mort at the Wadsworth Theater on May. (He celebrated his 80th birthday.) Woody Allen will tape a message and longtime friend Clint Eastwood may appear or send a humorous message. Sahl wrote a couple of movie scripts for him. The show is being produced by Buddy Morra, Ross Schaefer, Howard Storm and Budd Friedman.
I’ve known Sahl since he starred at the Crescendo night club on the Sunset Strip. Lenny Bruce was appearing in the room below, called the Interlude, and the building was next door to the Mocambo. Sahl had started his career at the Hungry I club in San Francisco. It was 1953, the same year I started at Variety. Sahl, in a sweater with a rolled-up copy of the day’s newspaper tucked under his arm, had audiences laughing heartily at the day’s headliners. “Today,” he says, “You read the news straight and everyone laughs!” He has no dearth of subjects or subject matter. He says, “I go to Starbucks each day to read the New York Times while everyone else there is looking at his laptop!”
He will teach a class this fall at Claremont’s McKenna College. The subject: How to preserve your individuality. Fortunately, Mort Sahl’s individuality is very-well preserved. His observation on today’s movies: “They’re not remaking them the way they used to!”
Added note on the Improv’s Budd Friedman: he will be inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame on June 23. It’s the 10th anniversary of the Walk. Rita Moreno, a 1998 inductee, will co-host this year’s Bronx Ball where Doris Roberts will be honored as another new inductee. I had that pleasure of seeing my name go up on the Bronx’s Walk street sign at 161’st St. and the Grand Concourse on June 26, 2005.
Add honors: the Center Theatre Group’s board president, Richard Ka-gan was honored by the CTG Affiliates at their “Angel’s Night,” at the Century Plaza hotel. The event raised $500,000 for the group’s arts educational programs. An auction included tix to the Tonys, and a walk-on (or is it sing-on?) in “Jersey Boys” bowing at the Ahmanson. Lewis Black performed at the fundraiser.