Mal Sharpe

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Mal Sharpe
Malcolm Sharpe

(1936-04-02)April 2, 1936
Died (aged 83)
Occupation(s)Radio host, comedian

Malcolm Sharpe (April 2, 1936 – March 10, 2020) was an American television and radio personality with roots in San Francisco, California.

In the early 1960s, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-born Sharpe[1] collaborated with Jim Coyle to create a series of comic on-the-street interviews for San Francisco radio station KGO. Armed with a tape recorder, Coyle and Sharpe confronted pedestrians with unusual questions or strange behavior.[2] In a 1964 interview with Newsweek magazine, Sharpe explained "We try to pose an almost plausible question, then proceed step by step into absurdity until the interviewee is seething."

After four years of recording short skits for KGO, Coyle and Sharpe recorded a hidden camera television pilot in 1964 called The Imposters with host George Fenneman but it remained unsold and was never aired in full. A 2006 four disc box set of 1960s material titled These 2 Men Are Impostors contains The Imposters pilot in addition to KGO radio recordings and previously unreleased pranks.[3] Along with Coyle, he also recorded two comedy albums of street pranks in 1964 for the Warner Brothers record label. As a solo performer, he later released two albums.[4]

In 1971, Sharpe continued as a solo interviewer with a syndicated TV series titled The Street People. In the 1980s he hosted a series of public television specials titled Mal Sharpe's San Francisco which included a mixture of new material and older clips.[5]

Sharpe was a "trad jazz" fan and said that he moved to San Francisco after seeing a Turk Murphy's Jazz Band album cover. He began playing the trombone at 15, and although he "had not kept it up", a chance request to sit in with a jazz group led to a regular gig at a North Beach, San Francisco nightclub in the late 1950's. In the 1980's he established his own Big Money In Jazz band. They regularly appeared at venues such as the Savoy Tivoli and Enrico’s in San Francisco and the No Name Bar in Sausalito.[6][7][8]

Sharpe resided in Berkeley, California, with his wife. He hosted a jazz show, Back on Basin Street,[9] from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. Sunday Pacific Time on KCSM at the College of San Mateo in California. The final Back on Basin Street was aired on Sunday, March 25, 2012.[10] He died on March 10, 2020, of complications from heart surgery at the age of 83.[11]


  1. ^ "Mal Sharpe, 'The Man on the Street' radio gag man, dies at 83".
  2. ^ Krigbaum, Ben Trefny, Ashleyanne. "A conversation with legendary prankster Mal Sharpe". Retrieved 2019-08-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "The Official Coyle & Sharpe Website". Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  4. ^ "Mal Sharpe discography". Discogs. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  5. ^ Mal Sharpe's San Francisco, archived from the original on 2021-12-22, retrieved 2019-08-14
  6. ^ "Mal Sharpe, Radio Comic and Jazz Man dies at 83". 16 March 2020. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  7. ^ "SHARPE WIT / Jazz trombonist's first job was a joke". 9 March 2001. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  8. ^ "Mal Sharpe's Improvisational Life". Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  9. ^ "Mal Sharpe | Night Beat". Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  10. ^ "KCSM Community Stations | San Mateo, California". Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  11. ^ "Legendary Bay Area Television Personality And Musician Mal Sharpe Dies At Age 83". March 12, 2020.

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