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Mal Sharpe (1936–2020), pioneering radio prankster

by Kirk Fox

Mal Sharpe was the pioneering radio comic known for “The Man on the Street” pranks. In the early 1960s, Sharpe teamed with Jim Coyle to go out in the street in San Francisco and prank unsuspecting people with unusual interview questions. After fooling someone with their bizarre inquiries, they would reveal the joke. The pair had a show on radio station KGO. After the duo filmed a TV pilot in 1965, Coyle mysteriously left show business. Sharpe continued to do some radio work and formed a jazz band in which he played trombone.  

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Died: Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Who else died on March 10?)  

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Details of death: Died at the age of 83.     


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What they said about him: “The special thing about Mal, particularly in his work with Coyle, is that it is rare for something that is so profoundly subversive to also be so warm and generous in spirit.” “Jim Coyle brought a deadpan madness, but the reason people bought it was the depth and sincerity of Mal’s voice.”- Jesse Thorn, host of “Bullseye” on NPR 

Full obituary: San Francisco Chronicle  

Related lives: 

Allen Funt and Candid Camera  

Don Imus (1940 – 2019), well known shock jock 

Jack Burns (1933 – 2020), known for comedy duo Burns and Shreiber 

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