THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
A new feature at the L.C. is the induction of worthy albums into the archives,
as chosen by the "National Recording Preservation Board." Among the first inductees: the first recording made (but not released)
by Mort: "Mort Sahl at Sunset."
As the New York Times cogently notes:
"Mort Sahl may not have wanted his comedy album “At Sunset”
to be recorded, but it is now headed for a permanent place in the audio archives of the Library of Congress, along with works
by Tammy Wynette, Captain Beefheart, Al Green, Steely Dan and De La Soul, as well as one of the earliest known recordings
of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
For more on the album, you can check Ron Smith's books, either "Goldmine
Comedy Record Price Guide," or "Comedy on Record." It's an interesting record, however unauthorized, but a serious flaw is
that Fantasy sped it up slightly to fit the entire set onto one vinyl album, so Mort's talking even faster than usual.
The album was recorded at Carmel Auditorium in 1955. Mort's nervous style of quick-sketch
phrasing is intact already, as in his description of an ad man who wore "a charcoal gray suit...a large stick pin that seemed
to go through the body...crewcut, glasses with wrought iron frames..." Another example pf Mort's subtle disdain for the
obvious guffaw joke in favor of subtle satire: "There's a magazine of obscure poetry - called Whither."
One of the more interesting routines on this not-too-political set is the "hold-up
bit" that predates Woody Allen's classic film encounter in a bank:
"They wrote down, THIS IS A HOLD UP. IF YOU ACT NORMAL YOU WON'T GET HURT."
The bank teller wrote a rebuttal to them: "Act normal? Define your terms."