Introducing Coyle and Sharpe


The Warbler, 1963,  “man on the street” interview

Coyle and Sharpe was the name of American comic duo Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe who appeared on television and radio during the early sixties, exhibiting their mastery of the “man on the street” interview, with humorous results.

Coyle and Sharpe began their comedy team in 1958 in a boarding house. In their official website Jim Coyle is described as a “benign conman who talked his way into 119 jobs by the time he was 25”. Mal Sharpe. At the time of their meeting, Mal Sharpe had just graduated college and was interested in the burgeoning scene that was happening in in the San Francisco area in that time.

In 1964, they were hired by radio station KGO in San Francisco to pull pranks, or as they jokingly referred to them, “Terrorizations”. The radio show was called “Coyle and Sharpe On The Loose”. Shortly after these broadcasts aired, they released two records: “The Absurd Imposters[1] and “The Insane Minds Of Coyle And Sharpe[2], which were released on the Warner Records.

The whereabouts of Jim Coyle are unkown, but in their website, a supposition is offered that he left the act to pursue a career in “tunneling” and that he died in 1993 burrowing under the city of Barcelona.

Mal Sharpe continued to do the “Man on the Street” interviews. In the year 2000, Sharpe hosted a centennial exhibit at the Whitney Museum, called “The American Century“. Coyle and Sharpe were featured in the Soundworks Exhibit for this presentation.

They have one record that re-presented their seminal comedy material in 2000 from Thirsty Ear, entitled Coyle And Sharpe-Audio Visionaries[3].

  • The Best of LCD: The Art and Writing of WFMU
  • RE/Search #11: Pranks!. RE/Search Publications, 1986.

4 thoughts on “Introducing Coyle and Sharpe

  1. Paul Rumsey

    Here are transcripts of “Animal Rights Activists”, Transporting Captured People” and “Pharmacist”.

    Reading these you can see how similar they are to the work of Chris Morris in “Blue Jam”, – they are in the form of documentary interviews that slide into a surreal, often grotesque and disturbing world, and moral questions are asked – would you make music with drugged animals? – or help transport starved slaves terrorised by ravens? – and what do you do if someone intends to perform surgery on a friend after reading a medical book for two days and experimenting on a cat and dog?
    In these sketches everything is under attack, the body, the mind and moral codes.

  2. jahsonic

    Ah yes … “Blue Jam” to which you pointed me about a year ago, one of thediscoveries earlier this year thanks to yourself (I consider you a almost co-author of this blog).

    Let me give that to my other readers:

    Television and radio are the last frontiers that deserve documenting in the way that I have been doing for film, literature and visual culture.

    A couple of hi-lites of the recent disoveries are included on British television

    o The Trap (television documentary series) by Adam Curtis
    o Blue Jam Chris Morris, Sex for Houses episode
    o The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive by Stephen Fry

    I love television. I always have, I just watch it on Youtube now.

Comments are closed.