Liner Notes

The Absurd Imposters; 1963

"To look at them, you'd think them two well-educated, well-read, well-spoken, audacious young men. They are. They are also two young men who've rejected a conventional way of life in order to tape absurd, impromptu conversations with the innocent passer-by on a hidden tape recorder. Or, to put it another way (their way), 'We're just Renaissance Men who like to bug people.'"

The Insane (But Hilarious) Minds Of Coyle & Sharpe; 1964, liner notes by Jim Moore

"Completely unknown when they went on the air in San Francisco in 1963, their popularity ratings zoomed. According to an article about them in NEWSWEEK, the pair received sensational mail from thousands of delighted listeners. In less than nine months, they increased their audience by 2200%, and their phenomenal success was brought to the attention of TV producer David L. Wolper. Wolper quickly signed Coyle &Sharpe on for a new television series, 'The Impostors.'"

On The Loose; 1995, liner notes by Jennifer Sharpe

"'That's where Jim and I spent the night in jail.' My father is pointing to a drab civic building off the freeway. As we drive past it, my father tells the story of how he and Jim had been working that day, hovering the streets of San Francisco with their hidden tape recorder looking to create and record tense situations. Having successfully ensnared a pedestrian into conversation, Coyle & Sharpe were now needling him to lend them his car in the interest of "trusting citizens you've never seen before.'"

Audio Visionaries; 2000, liner notes by Mal Sharpe

"Visionaries? Where did Coyle and I get our ideas? We would meet at nine in the morning at various San Francisco coffee shops, this was around 1963 B.C., before cappuccino. In front of us was an 8X10 manila envelope containing our releases, everyone we interviewed had to sign a release. While sipping black coffee, we would 'premisize.' Often the premises would spring from something in the environment around us. There might be a travel poster on the wall from Africa with a zebra on it and Coyle would blurt out 'Half zebra, half eel.' I would write 'Zeb-Eel' on the envelope.


New Zanies; by Dwight Newton
June 11, 1963, The S.F. Examiner

"But they have only been on radio one week. Time and a modicum of favorable reaction may lead to widespread poularity. Or they may go over the hill too oblivion in a hurry. I wouldn't make any prediction at this stage."

January 13, 1964

"On San Francisco's Market Street last week, two somber-faced public-opinion 'pollsters' approached a young man, thrust a microphone in his face, and after a few minutes of earnest conversation asked: 'Would you be interested in helping future generations to fly?' When the young man said 'yes,' the pollsters asked: 'Well, then, would you let us graft a pair of chicken wings on your forehead?'"

Mal Sharpe, Back On the Streets Again; by Ben Fong-Torres
November 17, 1995

"If you've taken note of a mini-trend in radio and TV advertising--the use of a smart-ass voice, often conducting interviews of real people, coaxing wacky answers by asking wacky questions--you can lay the blame or credit on Mal Sharpe."

Mal On The Street: The Ambush Humor of Mal Sharpe; by Jack Boulware
1995, SF Weekly

"America in the early '60s: People whistling songs from West Side Story. First-class postage costs 4 cents. Jet airliners have made intercontinental travel practical. Alan Shepard Jr. rides a Mercury capsule into the space race. JFK half-heartedly invades Cuba. Cassius Clay is crowned light heavyweight champion of the world. Color TV flickers in the living rooms of the wealthy. Naivete and optimism have not yet given way to conspiracy and protest."

May We Graft Chicken Wings To Your Head In the Interest of Aviation?; by Kenneth Goldsmith
June 1995, Published in LCD

"It's incredible now to hear the gullibility of these people--you think, it just couldn't happen today--people are too cynical and paranoid. But it was a different time in America--the post-Eisenhower-pre-Vietnam-Cold War period. At that time the only really alternative thing that the media was picking up on was the Beats; the hippies were still several years away. Coyle and Sharpe were not hanging on the Beat Scene, rather they lived in a residence house on Russian Hill, which is where they met in 1960, and spent their days doing recorded put-on's that really verged on conceptual performance art."

The Pop Life: Different Pranks In Different Eras; by Neil Strauss
January, 2000, New York Times

"In one recording (part of the Whitney Museum's current 'Sound Works' exhibition), they pretend to be employers and offer a pedestrian a job working in a flame-filled pit designed as an artificial hell. They explain that the chances of dying are 98 percent, four maniacs will attack him, bats will swoop over his head, the pay is $46 a week, and he will be provided with one meal: a bat that he must cook in the flames. "

Coyle & Sharpe © Mal Sharpe