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A conversation with legendary prankster Mal Sharpe

Part of this year’s SF Sketchfest includes a tribute to a local comedy team that pioneered improvisational comedy right here on the streets of San Francisco.

In the 1960’s, Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe staged pranks on unsuspecting citizens and tourists. Using hidden microphones, they recorded these absurd and often surreal encounters, which were broadcast on their radio show, “Coyle and Sharpe On The Loose”.

While Jim Coyle passed away over 20 years ago, Mal Sharpe has continued on in the entertainment business, playing trombone and hosting a jazz show onKCSM. Today, he’s talking comedy, sharing his favorite “Man on the Street” moments with our own Ben Trefny.

MAL SHARPE: "It was very free and easy. Every once in a while, someone would call the cops on us, and we'd have to run and get on the streetcar. There was always a little element of danger in what we were doing, and it was just fun."

Listen on the audio player above for the full interview. 

The tribute to Coyle and Sharpe, hosted by Bullseye’s Jesse Thorn, is happening this Sunday afternoon at San Francisco’s Eureka Theater. You can find out more information about attending at the SFSketchfestwebsite.

Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.